ST. THEODORUS OF HERACLEA, M.
AMONG those holy martyrs whom the Greeks honor
with the title of Megalomartyrs, (i. e. great martyrs,) as St.
George, St. Pantaleon. &c., four are distinguished by them above
the rest as principal patrons, namely, St. Theodorus of Heraclea,
surnamed Stratilates, (i. e. general of the army,) St.
Theodorus of Amasea, surnamed Tyro, St. Procopius, and St. Demetrius.
The first was general of the forces of Licinius, and governor of the
country of the Mariandyni, who occupied part of Bithynia, Pontus, and
Paphlagonia. whose capital at that time was Heraclea of Pontus,
though originally a city of Greeks, being founded by a colony from
Megara. This was the place of our saint’s residence, and here
he glorified God by martyrdom, being beheaded for his faith by an
order of the emperor Licinius, the 7th of February, on a Saturday, in
319, as the Greek Menæa and Menologies all agree: for the Greek
Acts of his martyrdom, under the name of Augarus, are of no
authority. It appears from a Novella of the emperor Manuel Comnenus,
and from Balsamon’s Scholia on the Nomocanon of Photius,1 that
the Greeks kept as semi-festivals, that is, as holydays till noon,
both the 7th of February, which was the day of his martyrdom, and
that of the translation of his relics, the 8th of June, when they
were conveyed soon after his death, according to his own appointment,
to Euchaia, or Euchaitæ, where was the burial-place of his
ancestors, a day’s journey from Amasea, the capital of all
Pontus. This town became so famous for his shrine, that the name of
Theodoropolis was given it; and out of devotion to this saint,
pilgrims resorted thither from all parts of the east, as appears from
the Spiritual Meadow,2 Zonaras,3 and Cedrenus.4 The two latter
historians relate, that the emperor John I., surnamed Zemisces, about
the year 970, ascribed a great victory which he gained over the
Saracens, to the patronage of this martyr: and in thanksgiving
rebuilt in a stately manner the church where his relics were
deposited at Euchaitæ.* The republic of Venice has a singular
veneration for the memory of St. Theodorus of Heraclea, who, as
Bernard Justiniani proves,5 was titular patron of the church of St.
Mark in that city, before the body of that evangelist was translated
into it from another part of the city. A famous statue of this St.
Theodorus is placed upon one of the two fine pillars which stand in
the square of St. Mark. The relics of this glorious martyr are
honored in the magnificent church of St. Saviour at Venice, whither
they were brought by Mark Dandolo in 1260, from Constantinople; James
Dandolo having sent them to that capital from Mesembria, an
archiepiscopal maritime town in Romania, or the coast of Thrace, when
in 1256 he scoured the Euxine sea with a fleet of galleys of the
republic, as the Venetian historians inform us.6 See archbishop
Falconius, Not. in Tabulis Cappon. and Jos. Assemani in Calend. Univ.
on the 8th and 17th of February, and the 8th of June;† also
Lubin. Not. in Martyr. Rom. p. 283, and the Greek Synaxary.