St. Thecla The Martyr

In this episode of “Walking The Way with The Saints”, we focus on St. Thecla, , a companion of St. Paul and evangelist of the early church, whom we remember on September 24 according to the Syriac Orthodox Liturgical calendar. Bryant Wong presents us with his research into her life and how her story inspires us to depend on God for our protection at all times.

St. Thecla felt inspired, when St. Paul preached in Iconia in AD 45. When her parents found out what their daughter was doing, they were unhappy. Her father was the governor of Iconia and gave orders to drive away St. Paul and to burn his daughter. They arranged a fire to burn St. Thecla. Many people gathered there to see this. St. Thecla came forward and said, “O, God of St. Paul, accept Thy maiden’s soul for I wish to embrace you.” When she said this, a sky became cloudy and thunder and lightning came with a sudden downpour. The fire was extinguished. Those gathered there became afraid and ran home.

Video prepared by Bryant Wong

St. Thecla stayed with her neighbor, Onivoros, and the family prayed for her. When her father threw St. Thecla to the wild animals, the animals sat at her feet like sheep. The crowd wondered at this sight and praised God. 

When St. Thecla was then tied to the horns of a bull, fire came down and Rome was burnt and the bull attacked those assembled to see the torture. When St. Thecla was tortured by standing in a room full of serpents, the serpents left the room. Lastly, when the governor ordered her to be beheaded, St. Thecla escaped to Antioch. 

Fresco of Paul and Thecla from 6th century. Discovered in 1906 in the Cave of St. Thecla and St. Paul on the northern slope of Bülbül Dag, above the ruins of ancient Ephesus. They both have the same height and are therefore iconographically of equal importance. They both have their right hands raised in teaching gesture and are therefore iconographically of equal authority.

The governor and the people of Antioch went quickly to meet St. Thecla. The governor asked Thecla about her journey. St. Thecla said, “I am the maid of God who created everything. I believe in Jesus Christ and his Holy Cross.” St. Thecla repeated the speech of St. Paul that she heard in Iconia. After hearing the speech, the governor believed in Jesus Christ. When she reached Al-Kalamoun, a few farmers were sowing wheat. St. Thecla raised her eyes to heaven and prayed that the wheat may be ready to reap. In a short while, the wheat field was ready for harvesting. 

When St. Thecla reached Malula, she was so tired that she could not climb up the hill. She knelt and prayed, “God, you saved me from wild animals, the blazing fire, and the torture of my father. You helped me to travel a long distance and to reach this place safely.” At this time, the rock on which was standing on split in two and she landed safely in the opening. A stream started flowing beneath her feet. This rock is still located at Malula. She spent the rest of her life in this den in prayer, and worshipped God. She used to pray for the sick and they were healed. She lived in the den eating green leaves and drinking water until her death.

May the prayers and blessing of St. Thecla be with us all and glory be to God forever, Amen!

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