By Sarah Levesque (Rated PG)
St. Theodore of Sykeon was born to a prostitute named Mary who owned an inn. His father was a man named Cosmas, formerly an acrobat but at that time a messenger of the Emperor Justinian (reigned 527-566). Mary was given a vision of a star, coming down from Heaven and entering her womb. Cosmas interpreted Mary’s vision to mean the newly conceived child was to be a holy man of God. She was given the same interpretation by a local holy man and the local bishop.
As Theodore grew up, his mother and her attendants gave up their lives of prostitution and became respectable citizens, living on the proceeds of the restaurant, which gained a new cook named Stephen, who, in addition to making splendid meals, became the spiritual father of those in the inn, including Theodore. The boy began to follow the strict practices of Stephen, despite his mother’s concern that he wasn’t eating enough. Instead of coming home for lunch, Theodore would hide at the shrine of St. George, who appeared to him and talked with him. He began to go to the shrine in the night, led by the saint, who admonished his mother and those of her women who tried to stop him.
From the time he was a young teen, Theodore was given to extreme mortifications and ate almost nothing. He also learned all the psalms, and sang them regularly. After being ordained a priest at eighteen, earlier than typically allowed, he continued his practices of extreme mortification and psalm-singing, and also was given the ability to expel demons and heal people. Eventually, he was ordained Bishop of Anastasiopolis, and his power over demons and maladies grew, as did his fame. After a decade, Theodore resigned his office so he could focus on his faith and his followers, and in 613, Theodore died.
May we, like Theodore, count our worldly sufferings as nothing or as sacrifices to be made to help others, and be unmoved by power, willing to give it up whenever God calls.