May 18: Saints Theodotus and Thecusa

Today the Church commemorates Saints Theodotus and Thecusa, along with other unnamed Christians who were martyred with them. Their city was Ancyra (in modern Turkey), and we believe they died in the year 304, when the persecution of Christians was particularly fierce. Some say that the Roman emperor Diocletian wasn’t particularly opposed to Christians at the start of his reign, but by this point, he’d come to see them as a danger to the safety of the empire. Not believing in the Roman gods was seen as an act of treason.

That’s about all we know about today’s saints for certain. But a lovely story–of dubious reliability–expands on these details.  According to that tradition, Theodotus was an innkeeper who risked his life to bury other Christian martyrs before being arrested and tortured to try to make him give up his faith. Thecusa was a young Christian woman who had also been imprisoned. During an annual feast for the goddess Athena, women who were about to consecrate themselves to the goddess publicly disrobed and bathed in a fountain, in sight of everyone. The governor ordered Thecusa to join them. When she (of course) refused, she was executed.

Holy Martyrs, show me how to behave like a true follower of Christ.

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