SAINT THEODORA (feast day: 11 Tut)

The life of Saint illustrates a theme dear to the Byzantine hagiographers: the woman monk wearing men’s clothing and living in a monastery of men (Patlagean, pp. 602, 612). Saint Theodora, who lived during the reign of Emperor Zeno (474-491), was courted by a man other than her husband and yielded to him. Then, filled with remorse, she cut off her hair, put on men’s clothing, took the name Theodore, and allowed herself to be taken for a servant. She entered a monastery of men, where she received the angelic habit.

Accused of having sinned with a woman, she was from the monastery with the child of whom she was accused of being the father. She remained in the desert with her supposed son for seven years. Edified by her conduct, the abbot readmitted her to the monastery, where she died shortly afterward. Her sex then became known, and her patience and sanctity were revealed.

is commemorated in the SYNAXARION on 11 Tut. This notice appears to be borrowed from the Greek Synaxarion.

The Life preserved in Greek has been published by K. Wessely. Several Arabic manuscripts contain an unpublished Life that appears to be of Syrian origin.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Patlagean, E. “L’ de la femme déguisée en moine et l’évoluvtion de la sainteté feminine à Byzance.” Studi medievali 17 (1976):597-623.
  • Wessely, K. Die vita s. Theodorae, fünfzehnter Jahresbericht des K. 1889. Staatgymnasiums in Hernals. Vienna, 1889.