Science of the Saints, 18-IV-2019 (5 Apr.), The Holy Martyrs Theodulus and Agathopodes and their Companions

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The Holy Martyrs Agathopodes the Deacon and Theodulus the Reader lived in Thessalonika during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284‑305) and were among the church clergy: the holy Deacon Agathopodes was very old, and Saint Theodulus very young.

Both distinguished themselves by righteous life and piety. One tine Saint Theodulus saw in his sleep a vision, in which an unknown person in radiant garb placed in his hand some object. When he awoke, he then saw in his hand a beautiful ring with the image of the Cross and he realised, that this was a sign of his future martyrdom. By the power of the Cross imaged on the ring the saint healed many of the sick and turned pagans to faith in Christ the Saviour.

When the emperor Diocletian issued an edict (303) of a persecution against Christians, many attempted to hide themselves from pursuit, but Saints Agathopodes and Theodulus undauntedly continued to proclaim the Gospel preaching.

The Thessalonika governor Faustinus, having learned of this, gave orders to bring them to him for trial. Seeing the youth and excellence of Saint Theodulus, Faustinus attempted by flattery to persuade him to renounce Christianity and return to the decreed offering of sacrifice. To this the Martyr Theodulus answered that he long since had renounced the error and that he pitied Faustinus, who by his offer of paganism was condemned himself to eternal death. The governor offered the martyr a choice: the fortune of life or immediate death. The saint answered that certainly he would choose life, but as life eternal, and that temporal death he feared not.

When Faustinus lost hope to persuade the Martyr Theodulus, he began to talk with Saint Agathopodes. The governor attempted to deceive him and said, that Saint Theodulus had already agreed to offer sacrifice to the gods. But the Martyr Agathopodes did not believe this. He was convinced, that Saint Theodulus was prepared to offer his life for his True God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not having any success, Faustinus commanded to remove the martyrs to prison. The holy martyrs prayed fervently and boldly preached the Word of God to the imprisoned, such that many were converted to Christianity. The head of the prison Eutinios reported about this to the governor.

Faustinus again summoned them to trial and again he urged them to renounce Christ. Before the eyes of Saint Theodulus they brought forth to offer sacrifice those, who earlier were Christians, but betrayed the faith. “Ye have conquered the weak, but strong warriors of Christ ye in no way wilt see to conquer, even if ye do invent yet greater torments!” exclaimed Saint Theodulus. The governor commanded the martyr to produce the Christian books. “Here, my body is given for torture,” answered the martyr, “do with it what thou wish; torture me in a very fierce manner, but nonetheless I shalt not hand over the Holy Books for mockery by the impious!”

Faustinus gave orders to bring Saint Theodulus to the place of execution, where an executioner readied a sword in order to cut off his head. The martyr bravely and with joy cried out: “Glory to Thee, O God, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, Who deigned to suffer for us. Here by His grace I go unto Thee, and with joy I do die for Thee!” Then Faustinus halted the execution and again locked up the martyrs in prison. There the holy martyrs prayed fervently and both saw the same dream. They were sailing in a ship, which during the time of storm was suffering shipwreck. The waves cast them up upon shore, arrayed in white radiant raiment. The saints told each other about the vision, and they gave thanks to God for their impending martyr’s end.

In the morning, when the martyrs were again brought to Faustinus, they declared to him: “We are Christians and for the Name of Christ we are prepared to undergo whatever the suffering.” Faustinus gave orders to cast them into the sea. The waves carried Saint Agathopodes to the rocks, and he loudly exclaimed: “This shalt be for us a second Baptism, which will wash away our sins, and we shalt come unto Christ with purity.” After him Saint Theodulus was also cast into the sea (+303).

The sea cast on shore the bodies of the saints in radiant garb, without the ropes and weight-stones. Christians took their holy bodies and gave them reverent burial.

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