Augustine Sokolovski

On November 7 (20), the Church celebrates the memory of the martyr Theodotus of Ancyra. The saint was a righteous believing Orthodox layman. He suffered for Christ during the Great Persecution of Diocletian.

This saint should be distinguished from another saint, Theodotus of Ancyra (+446), who was a famous theologian and bishop of Ancyra a century and a half later. This is important to remember because the identities of both saints are sometimes mistakenly identified in written works.

According to life, Theodotus was the owner of an inn. He helped Christians. Once in the city, seven Christian virgins suffered for their faith. Having learned about this, Theodotus did not leave them without burial.

Following a pagan denunciation, he was captured for professing Christianity. For refusing to make a sacrifice to the Gods, he was beaten for a long time and disfigured beyond recognition. His body, already dead, was tied by the pagans to his own donkey, in the hope that it would go astray and Theodotus himself would be left without burial. But the animal brought its owner home, where the holy relics were received by a Christian priest.

In his reverent attitude towards the burial of the dead, Theodotus repeated the feat of the righteous Tobit, who during the Babylonian captivity buried his murdered brothers, for which he was expelled and lost all his property (Tob. 1:18-20).

He also became like the righteous Joseph of Arimathea, who, according to the Gospel, asked Pilate for “the body of Jesus” and laid it in his new tomb (Matt. 27:58-60).

Not a single commandment will pass from the Law of God until heaven and earth pass away,” says the Lord in His Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matt. 3:17). The life of Theodotus is an example of how fulfilling one single commandment brings a martyr's crown.

Ancyra is the capital of the ancient historical region of Galatia, located in the center of Asia Minor. Nowadays it is the capital of Turkey, Ankara. Nowadays, in this metropolis of more than five million people, hardly anyone remembers Saint Theodotus. Every city is established by the prayer of the righteous (cf. Gen. 18:21). When we travel, Christians need to find out which saints labored in this or that place.

The saints intercede for those who remember them, become their true friends, and expect to meet them in Heaven (cf. Matt. 26:29). This seemingly all-too-human truth is biblically true. After all, Jesus Himself told the Apostles that He was going to prepare mansions for His friends in the Kingdom of the Father (cf. John 14:2).