Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 3 - Theodosia of Tyre, Martyr, Young Woman, Minister to the Martyrs

Theodosia knew that it was dangerous to visit Christians who had already been caught up in the vengeful net of the Empire. For over five years, they had been rounding up Christians in Caesarea and putting them to the sword when they refused to deny their faith. Those who did deny their faith were set free but lost their faith in a moment of dreadful liberty. But, Theodosia felt it was necessary to visit those whom the State would soon put to death because they were her brothers and sisters and they were suffering. As a Christian she felt called to offer them consolation and what little comfort she could afford and muster--it was an obligation she felt extended from their common calling to take up a cross and follow after their Lord who had given up his life for others. Plus, she was impressed with their confidence and it gave her hope to see the faith of the martyrs as they approached their deaths. It did not make life easy to watch them die but it did strengthen her trust in the resurrection that awaited not only the martyrs but her.

As she turned to leave them she must have known she was being watched--visitors to Christians were often secret Christians themselves and so it proved profitable to look for signs of faith if one was looking to capture more Christians. She turned and asked the martyrs to remember her when they stood in the presence of the almighty God they loved and followed. They must have said something especially convicting or powerful because she was moved to tears and bowed before them to show the respect she had for them, their faith, and Jesus--the object of their devotion. As she bowed to them the soldiers swarmed forward and seized her. They accused her of being Christian--a charge she could not and would not deny. At the command of the governor they raked her body with iron claws and beat her savagely. She still refused to deny her faith even when she lay bleeding in her cell and her parents begged her to renounce the faith that would spend what remained of her life on those who didn't seem to care. She was further beaten and abused the next day and given one last chance to change her mind and sacrifice to the idols of Rome.

Theodosia didn't hesitate in laughing and saying, "You don't get it? You've given me the gift of being with the martyrs!" In his rage the governor ordered her to be further tortured and eventually decapitated. She joined the martyrs that had inspired her and became an example of the faith that had sustained her. Though she had looked to the martyrs as exemplary Christians she found that it wasn't very hard to become one when the world was all too eager to punish those who trusted in a Crucified and Risen Lord. The story goes on to say that she appeared to her mother and father in a vision that night in sparkling robes and accompanied by beautiful angels. She said to them, "Look. This is what you tried to get me to deny." Their faith was kindled by their daughter's posthumous rebuke and they were only the first of many to take heart and courage from the death of Theodosia.

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