This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 2 -- Saint Theophilus the Confessor

Beloved Son, Nearly Martyred in the Iconoclasm of Leo the Isaurian

The one in the middle
Apart from an interesting geographic note, there are two anecdotes about Saint Theophilus that I think are worth reflecting on.  I am a little pressed this morning, so I am making this brief.

Geographic Note:  Theophilus was born in Tiberioupolis, which is now called Strumica.  This is part of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Obviously, for most of the twentieth century, it was within the borders of Yugoslavia, but prior to 1919, it was part of Bulgaria.  Thus, Theophilus is sometimes called the Bulgarian, even if Bulgaria didn't exist in the eighth century (his era). 

Beloved Son: Theophilus' parents did not like the fact that their son became a monk any better than any other parents ever did.  They, however, came up with a better solution.  When they finally tracked him down, they met with the igumen (hegumen, abbot) of the monastery he had joined years earlier.  They asked if Theophilus and several brothers could be reassigned to a new monastery they were founding close to their home.  If you know the Church won't give you back your kid, perhaps they will send him close to home, right?

The igumen led the brothers in prayer for guidance on the proposal.  After three days of prayer, they heard a divine voice giving its assent.  The monastery was endowed, the brothers transferred, and the parents relieved. 

If Abgar gets an icon, why can't I?
Nearly Martyred:  Leo the Isaurian became emperor and took a strict approach to the Second Commandment.  He was big on wrecking all religious icons, but also on wrecking those who defended such icons.  Theophilus was among the defenders, and for this view he was tied up, perp-walked, and publicly flogged.  Hypatius, the imperial official judging Theophilus' case, tried to reason with the stubborn iconodule.  Theophilus also tried to reason with Hypatius, noting that Moses raised a golden serpent to heal the Israelites, that the Ark of the Covenant was adorned with cherubim, and that King Abgar of Edessa was given an icon by Jesus himself.  Hypatius was persuaded, ordered a cessation of flogging, and wrote to Leo for permission to release Theophilus.  Leo trusted his administrator who released his prisoner.  Theophilus dragged his battered self back to the monastery, where he promptly gave up the ghost. 


  1. Hello, I stumbled upon your blog post and I found it very interesting. I just wanted to correct a small misunderstanding. Bulgaria existed during the VIII century- the date of official recognition of the state is 681. Actually, if Bulgaria didn't help the Eastern Roman Empire in their battle with the Arabs (the siege of Constantinople) which was during the time of St. Theophilus, the European history, the continent and the religion would be VERY different. :)

    1. I am always grateful for corrections. God bless Bulgaria!