Theodore the Branded

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Saints Theophanes and Theodore (right)

The Holy Martyr Theodore the Branded, the older brother of St. Theophanes the Confessor and Hymnographer, was a monk at the Monastery of St. Savas in Jerusalem who, with his brother, was a firm defender of the veneration of images during the iconoclastic period of the ninth century. His feast day is December 27.


The son of Jonah the Presbyter and the brother of Theophanes the Confessor, Theodore was born about the year 775 in Kerak, Moab, present day Jordan. He grew up in Jerusalem as a pious youth and entered the Great Lavra of St. Savas in Jerusalem. There he was tonsured a monk. At the Lavra, he became known for his intelligence and fidelity to the rule on the monastery.

In time Theodore was ordained a priest. When the second period of iconoclasm began with the ascension of emperor Leo V the Armenian in 813 to the imperial throne, Theodore, who was a strong defender of the veneration of images, was sent by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, as his emissary, to the emperor to persuade him not to interfere in ecclesiastical matters. But, Leo had Theodore scourged and sent, with his brother Theophanes, into exile to an island in the Black Sea. They were allowed to return to the Lavra of St. Savas after Leo's assassination in 820.

When the iconoclast emperor Theophilus ascended the imperial throne in 829, the persecutions of the iconodules returned and Theodore and Theophanes were again subjected to torture and banished. Called by the iconoclasts to Constantinople in 831 to discuss reconciliation and accepting iconoclasm, Theodore and his brother refused. They were then turned over to their tormenters who subjected the brothers to a special torture of having, over the period of two days, a 12-line iambic verse cut into their foreheads. They were then tortured again before being exiled to a prison in Apamea in Bithynia.

In prison, Theodore died a martyr about 841, having suffered severe privations while a prisoner.


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