Saints of the Day – Theodore (Theodoret) of Antioch


Died 362. An apostate named Julian, uncle of Emperor Julian the Apostate, was appointed governor of the province of which Antioch was the capital. He was a greedy man. Upon learning about the gold and silver treasure of the Church, he determined to have it for himself and, therefore, published an edict banishing the Christian clergy of the city. Theodore, a priest who had zealously destroyed idols during the reign of Constantine and who had built many churches and oratories over the relics of martyrs, was the custodian of the sacred vessels of the Catholics (as opposed to the Arians). He refused to abandon his flock and continued to assemble the faithful for Mass. For this reason, Julian had Theodore apprehended and bound.

Theodore was charged with the destruction of idols and raising of Christian shrines, to which the saint confessed. Then Theodore charged the governor with having abandoned the true God after having known Him. Thereupon Theodore was beaten and tortured as Julian mocked him and Theodore continued to exhort Julian to return to the love of Jesus.

Julian next ordered that Theodore should be racked. When the blood was streaming abundantly from Theodore’s wounds, Julian said, “I perceive you do not sufficiently feel your torments.” The saint replied, “I do not feel them, because God is with me.” When Julian set the saint aflame, Theodore raised his eyes to heaven and prayed that God would glorify His name throughout all ages.

At those words, the executioners fell on their faces to the ground. Julian himself was afraid but he ordered them to bring their torches nearer. They excused themselves saying that they saw four angels clothed in white with Theodore. Julian ordered that they be immediately drowned. Theodore encouraged his former tormentors, then turned to Julian to preach the kerygma, which enraged the governor. He threatened to kill Theodore instantly, to which the saint responded that this was his desire and issued a prophesy against Julian. At that Julian ordered Theodore beheaded.

The governor then seized the treasure of the Church with the approbation of his nephew. He took with him his chief treasurer, Felix, and his private treasurer, Elpidius. They profaned the sacred vessels in an outrageous manner but their impieties did not go unpunished for long.

The next day he presented the emperor with an inventory of the booty and the news of Theodore’s death. The emperor was displeased that any Christian should be put to death merely because of his religion and complained that this would give the Galileans reason to write against him and make a martyr of Theodore.

The governor was confounded by such a response and was seized with fear. For forty days the governor Julian languished with a disgusting affliction of his gastrointestinal system that could not be relieved by the best physicians. Finally, he pressed his wife to go and pray for him at the church and to seek the prayers of the Christians. He begged the emperor to restore to the Christians the churches that he had taken from them, but the emperor refused saying that his uncle had betrayed the gods. While the governor suffered indescribable torments, Theodore rested in the hands of God (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 August 2020. Web. 27 November 2020. <>