Martyr Theodotus of Ancyra, who suffered under Decius

The Holy Martyr Theodotus and the Holy Seven Virgins, Tecusa, Phaine, Claudia, Matrona, Julia, Alexandra and Euphrasia lived during the second half of the third century in the city of Ancyra, Galatia, and died as martyrs for Christ at the beginning of the fourth century. St Theodotus was an innkeeper and was married.

Theoteknos, prefect of Ancyra, issued a proclamation informing Christians that they were obliged to offer sacrifice to idols, and if they refused, they would be tortured and killed. Pagans would deliver Christians over to torture, and then divide up their property.

Theodotus was not afraid to bury the remains of holy martyrs, either carrying them off secretly or ransoming them from the soldiers. When the Christian churches at Ancyra were destroyed and closed, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in his inn. Knowing that martyrdom awaited him, St Theodotus predicted to the priest Phrontonos that soon they would bring him the relics of martyrs, at a place chosen by both of them. In surety of his words, St Theodotus gave the priest his ring.

At this time, seven holy virgins died for Christ. The eldest, St Tecusa, was the aunt of St Theodotus. The holy virgins Tecusa, Phaine, Claudia, Matrona, Julia, Alexandra and Euphrasia had dedicated themselves to God from their youth, living in constant prayer, fasting, temperance and good deeds. All of them had attained to an advanced age.

Brought to trial as Christians, the holy virgins bravely confessed their faith in Christ before Theoteknos and were given over to torture, yet remained steadfast. The prefect then gave them to shameless youths for defilement. The holy virgins prayed intensely, asking help from God. St Tecusa fell down at the feet of a youth, and pushing back her veil she showed him her grey hair. The young men were startled, and ran off weeping. The prefect then ordered that the saints take part in offering sacrifice to the idols, but again the holy virgins refused. For this they were sentenced to death. A heavy stone was tied to the legs of each, and all seven of the holy virgins were drowned in a lake.

On the following night St Tecusa appeared in a dream to St Theodotus, asking him to take her body and give it Christian burial. St Theodotus, taking with him his friend Polychronius and several other Christians, went to the lake. It was dark, and a torch illumined their way. The holy martyr Sosander appeared in front of the guard who was posted by the pagans at the shore of the lake. The frightened guard ran off in terror.

The Christians found the bodies of the holy martyrs and carried them to church, where they were buried. Learning that the bodies of the holy martyrs had been stolen, the prefect flew into a rage and gave orders to arrest all Christians and torture them. Polychronius also was seized. Unable to endure the torture, he accused St Theodotus of stealing the bodies. St Theodotus was prepared to die for Christ. Speaking with other Christians, he bequeathed his body to the priest Phrontonos, to whom he had given his ring.

The account of the life and martyrdom of St Theodotus and the suffering of the holy virgins was compiled by Nilus, a contemporary and companion of St Theodotus. Nilus lived in the city of Ancyra during the persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian, and witnessed the saint’s death.

St Theodotus is also commemorated on June 7.