Saints of the Day – Theodore Tiro

19th century engraving of Saint Theodore Stratelates by R Stang; swiped from WellCome ImagesArticle

(also known as Theodore the Recruit)

Died 306. Theodore was a young man newly enlisted (tiro means recruit) in the Roman army when severe regulations were published continuing under the new rulers of the empire the persecutions that had been started by Diocletian. His legion was wintering at Amasea in Pontus on the Black Sea when orders came that everyone should join in pagan worship. The recruit refused to do so. Though his life was seriously at risk, Theodore made no attempt to conceal his faith in Christianity.

The tribune of the legion and the governor of Pontus summoned the soldier before them, asking why he proclaimed belief in Jesus Christ when the Roman authorities threatened anyone who did so with death. “Jesus Christ is my one God,” replied Theodore. “Since you dislike my words so much, why not cut out my tongue. There is no limb that I am not ready to sacrifice when God demands it.”

Both the tribune and the governor had no desire to put their new recruit to death. They sent him back to his quarters, resolved to try to convert him to paganism later. Theodore, believing that the time had now come for a public demonstration of his hatred for the pagan idols, went to the center of nearby Euchaïta, where a temple to Cybele, the mother-goddess, had been erected and set fire to it.

Even now the governor and the tribune were disposed to be lenient. They bribed the young soldier with the promise that he would be made a priest of Cybele, if only he would recant and deny Jesus. Theodore pointed out that the pagan priests were the most reprehensible of all, since they misled the rest.

At this the authorities sentenced Theodore to be whipped. He made no cry of pain as his skin was lashed. He spent a further time in jail awaiting sentence, which was that he should be burned alive in the place where he incinerated the temple. On February 17, 306, the young recruit was thrown into a furnace and perished. A good Christian woman name Eusebia buried the ashes.

The story is untrustworthy, and its later forms so contradictory and complicated by incredible embroideries that another Saint Theodore Stratelates, ‘the General,’ was invented to account for them. There is good evidence that there was a martyred Theodore in Pontus; he was venerated from the fourth century and his burial place at Euchaïta was an important religious center.

He became the third of the highly venerated ‘soldier-saints’ of the East, with Saint George and Saint Demetrius. A contest with a dragon (metaphoric for evil) seems to have been attributed to Theodore before it was to George (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney).

Saint Theodore is represented as a young warrior with a lance. Pictured may be (1) Saint Acacius (in Byzantine art); (2) Theodore setting fire to the temple with a torch; (3) Christ appearing to him in prison; (4) a crown of thorns; (5) a funeral pyre; or (6) a dragon or crocodile at his feet (Roeder). Click here to see an anonymous Byzantine mosaic or a Russian icon of Saints Theodore Stratelites and Theodore the Tyro.

He is greatly venerated in the Eastern Church as the patron of soldiers. He is invoked against storm (Roeder).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 August 2020. Web. 29 November 2020. <>