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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

February 7

St. Theodorus of Heraclea, Martyr

AMONG those holy martyrs whom the Greeks honour with the title of Megalomartyrs (i. e. great martyrs) as St. George, St. Pantaleon, &c. four are distinguished by them above the rest as principal patrons, namely: St. Theodorus of Heraclea, surnamed Stratilates, (i. e. general of the army) St. Theodorus of Amasea, surnamed Tyro, St. Procopius, and St. 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, 1 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, 2 Zonaras 3 and Cedrenus. 4 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. 5 The republic of Venice has a singular veneration for the memory of St. Theodorus of Heraclea, who as Bernard Justiniani proves 6 was titular patron of the church of St. 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 St. Theodorus is placed upon one of the two fine pillars which stand in the square of St. Mark. The relics of this glorious martyr are honoured in the magnificent church of St. 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. 7 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; 8 also Lubin, Not. in Martyr. Rom. p. 283. and the Greek Synaxary.  1
Note 1. Tit. 7. c. 1. Thomassin, l. 1. c. 7. n. 3. [back]
Note 2. Prat. Spir. c. 180. [back]
Note 3. Zonar. 3. parte Annal. [back]
Note 4. Ced in Joanne Zemisce Imp. [back]
Note 5. See Baronius in his notes on the Martyrology (ad 9 Nov.) who justly censures those who confound this saint with St. Theodorus Tyro, as Fabricius has since done. (t. 9. Bibl. Græcæ, p. 147.) Yet himself falsely places Tyro’s shrine at Euchaitæ, and ascribes to him these pilgrimages and miracles which certainly belong to St. Theodoras Stratilates, or of Heraclea. [back]
Note 6. De Rebus Venetis, l. 6. [back]
Note 7. Sansovin, l. 13. Hist. &c. [back]
Note 8. The modern Greeks have transferred his feast from the 7th to the 8th of February. [back]