Venerable Theodore Graptus, “the branded,” Confessor

Saint Theodore the Confessor, and his brother Theophanes (October 11) were born in Jerusalem of Christian parents. From early childhood Theodore shunned childish amusements and loved to attend church services. With his younger brother Theophanes (October 11), he was sent to the Lavra of Saint Sava to be educated by a pious priest. Both brothers became monks, and Saint Theodore was ordained to the holy priesthood.

The iconoclast emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820) expelled and replaced the pious ruler Michael I Rhangabe (811-813). In the beginning, Leo concealed his heretical views, but later declared himself an iconoclast. The Patriarch of Jerusalem sent the two brothers to Constantinople to defend the holy icons. Theodore refuted Leo’s arguments, proving the falseness of his beliefs. Leo ordered that both brothers be beaten mercilessly, and then had them sent into exile, forbidding anyone to help them in any way.

Under the subsequent emperors, Michael II (820-829), and particularly under the iconoclast Theophilus (829-842), both brothers returned from exile. Again they were urged to accept iconoclasm, but they bravely endured all the tortures. They were sent into exile once more, but later returned. This time they were subjected to fierce torture, and finally, their faces were branded with the verses of a poem which mocked the holy confessors. Therefore, the brothers were called “the Branded.”

The city prefect asked Saint Theodore to take communion with the iconoclasts just once, promising him freedom if he did. But the holy martyr replied, “Your proposal is the same as saying: ‘Let me cut off your head once, and then you may go wherever you wish.’”

After torture the holy brothers were banished to Apamea in Bithynia, where Saint Theodore died around the year 840. Saint Theophanes survived until the end of the iconoclast heresy, and died as Bishop of Nicea. Saint Theophanes was author of many writings in defense of Orthodoxy. The relics of Saint Theodore were transferred to Chalcedon, where they worked many healings.