ST. THEODORUS GRAPT, C.
THIS saint was of the country of the Moabites; but
his parents, who were rich and virtuous, went and settled at
Jerusalem, in order to procure him the advantages of a holy
education. He was placed by them, when he was very young, in the
monastery of Sabas, and by his progress in learning the extraordinary
purity of his manners, and the habitual mortification of his senses,
attained in a short time to an eminent degree of virtue, and acquired
a high reputation in the world. The patriarch of Jerusalem obliged
him to receive priestly orders, and when Leo the Armenian waged a
cruel war against holy images, sent the saint to that emperor to
exhort him not to disturb the peace of the church. The tyrant,
instead of relenting, caused St. Theodorus to be scourged, and
banished him, with his brother Theophanes, a monk of the same
monastery and his companion, into an island in the mouth of the
Euxine sea, where they suffered much by hunger and cold But they had
not stayed long there before the emperor died, in 822, when they
returned to Constantinople, and St. Theodorus published some writings
in defence of the truth. Michael the Stutterer, who succeeded in the
imperial throne, and is thought either to have had no religion, or to
have leaned most to that of the Manichees, or Paulicians, was for
steering a middle course between the Catholics and the Iconoclasts.
He cast St. Theodorus into prison, and afterwards sent him into
exile. His son and successor Theophilus, a violent Iconoclast, and
barbarous persecutor, who ascended the throne in 829, caused the two
brothers to be whipped; then banished them into the island of
Aphusia. Two years after, they were brought back to Constantinople,
buffeted in presence of the emperor till they fell down quite stunned
at his feet, then stripped and publicly scourged. When they had lain
some days in prison, and still persisted in their refusal to
communicate with the Iconoclasts, the emperor commanded twelve Iambic
verses, composed for that purpose by an Iconoclast courtier, to be
inscribed on their foreheads. The sense of the verses was as follows:
“These men have appeared at Jerusalem as vessels of iniquity,
full of superstitious error, and were driven thence for their crimes.
and having fled to Constantinople they forsook not their impiety.
Wherefore they have been again banished from thence, and are
stigmatized on their faces.” Though the wounds which they had
received by their stripes were yet much inflamed, and very painful,
they were laid upon benches, while the letters which composed those
verses were cut or pricked upon their faces. The operation, was long
and tedious, and interrupted by the coming on of the night; and the
confessors were sent back to prison, their faces being still bloody.
They were soon after banished to Apamea in Syria, where St. Theodorus
died of his sufferings. From the inscription cut in his forehead he
is surnamed Grapt, which signifies in Greek, marked or
engraved. Theophilus died about the same time, and the empress
Theodora, a zealous Catholic, becoming regent for her son Michael,
St. Methodius was made patriarch, and restored holy images in 842.
Theophanes was then honoured for his glorious confession of the
faith, and constituted bishop of Nice, that he might more effectually
concur in overthrowing a heresy, over which he had already triumphed.
St. Theodorus Grapt is named in the Roman Martyrology with his
brother Theophanes on this day. The Greeks honor the former on the
27th of December, and St. Theophanes, whom, on account of sacred
hymns which he composed, they style the poet, on the 11th of
October. See the authentic life of St. Theodorus Grapt in
Metaphrastes, Baronius, and Fleury,1. 47, &c. The twelve iambic
verses, which were written on their foreheads, with a red-hot steel
pencil, are recited in the Greek Synaxary on this day.