Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Theodorus of Heraclea, Martyr

[painting of Saint Theodore]Article

Among those holy martyrs whom the Greeks honour with the title of Megalomartyrs (i. e. great martyrs) as Saint George, Saint Pantaleon, etc. four are distinguished by them above the rest as principal patrons, namely: Saint Theodorus of Heraclea, surnamed Stratilates, (i. e. general of the army) Saint Theodorus of Amasea, surnamed Tyro, Saint Procopius, and Saint Demetrius. The first was general of the forces of Licinius, and governor of the country of the Mariandyni, who occupied part of Bythynia, Pontus, and Paphlagonia, whose capital at that time was Heraclea of Pontus, though originally a city of Greeks, being founded by a colony from Megara. This was the place of our saint’s residence, and here he glorified God by martyrdom, being beheaded for his faith by an order of the emperor Licinius, the 7th of February, on a Saturday, in 319, as the Greek Menæa and Menologies all agree: for the Greek Acts of his martyrdom, under the name of Augarus, are of no authority. It appears from a Novella of the emperor Manuel Comnenus, and from Balsamon’s Scholia on the Nomocanon of Photius, that the Greeks kept as semi-festivals, that is, as holydays till noon, both the 7th of February, which was the day of his martyrdom, and that of the translation of his relics, the 8th of June, when they were conveyed soon after his death, according to his own appointment, to Euchaia, or Euchaitæ, where was the burial place of his ancestors, a day’s journey from Amasea, the capital of all Pontus. This town became so famous for his shrine, that the name of Theodoropolis was given it; and out of devotion to this saint, pilgrims resorted thither from all parts of the east, as appears from the Spiritual Meadow, Zonaras and Cedrenus. The two latter historians relate, that the emperor John I surnamed Zemisces, about the year 970, ascribed a great victory which he gained over the Saracens, to the patronage of this martyr: and in thanksgiving rebuilt in a stately manner the church where his relics were deposited at Euchaitæ. The republic of Venice has a singular veneration for the memory of Saint Theodorus of Heraclea, who as Bernard Justiniani proves was titular patron of the church of Saint Mark in that city, before the body of that evangelist was translated into it from another part of the city. A famous statue of this Saint Theodorus is placed upon one of the two fine pillars which stand in the square of Saint Mark. The relics of this glorious martyr are honoured in the magnificent church of Saint Saviour at Venice, whither they were brought by Mark Dandolo in 1260, from Constantinople; James Dandolo having sent them to that capital from Mesembria, an archiepiscopal maritime town in Romania, or the coast of Thrace, when in 1256 he scoured the Euxine sea with a fleet of gallies of the republic, as the Venetian historians inform us. See archbishop Falconius, Not. in Tabulis Cappon. and Jos. Assemani in Calend. Univ. on the 8th and 17th of February, and the 8th of June; also Lubin, Not. in Martyr.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Theodorus of Heraclea, Martyr”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 8 February 2013. Web. 18 September 2014. <>