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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Theodotus of Ancyra, Saint

Fourth-century martyr

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Theodotus of Ancyra, Saint, martyr. On May 18 the Roman Martyrology says: "At Ancyra, in Galatia, the martyr Saint Theodotus and the saintly virgins Thecusa, his aunt, Alexandra, Claudia, Faina, Euphrasia, Matrona, and Julitta", etc. They are mentioned in all the menologies, and Theodotus has a special feast on June 7 (Nilles, "Kal. man.", I, 162, and II, 583). He is patron of innkeepers. Emblems: torches and the sword. According to the Acts (Acts SS., May, IV, 147) Theodotus was a married man who kept an inn at Ancyra, the capital of Galatia. He is described as a man very zealous in the performance of his Christian duties, endowed with many virtues, especially charity towards his neighbor. He brought sinners to repentance and strengthened many in their faith during the persecution which Theoctenus, the governor of the province, was carrying on, about 303, in accordance with the edict of Diocletian. The name of a certain Victor is mentioned as one who grew weak in his profession of Christianity and received much encouragement from Theodotus. The governor ordered that all provisions exposed for sale should first be offered to the idols. Theodotus laid in stores of goods and his house became a refuge for the Christians, a hospital for the sick, and a place for Divine worship. At Malos, about five miles from Ancyra, he sought out the body of the martyr, Valens, and gave it Christian burial. Returning to Ancyra he found the Christians in great trouble. The seven virgins mentioned above had been called before the judges and made a valiant profession of their faith; they were then sent to a house of debauchery, but preserved their purity. Then they were obliged to suffer cruel torments and were cast into the sea with stones attached to their bodies. Theodotus succeeded in rescuing the bodies and honorably burying them. In consequence he was arrested, and after many sufferings was killed by the sword; his body was miraculously brought to Malos and there entombed by the priest Fronto. A chapel was built over the grave, and the saint was held in great veneration. The legend is told by Nilus who claims to have been an eye-witness to a great part of what he describes. Ruinart (page 372) places it among his "Acta sincera et selecta". Pio Franchi produced a critical edition of the Acts in "Studi e Testi" (Rome, 1901). He considered them trustworthy, but later changed his opinion. Delehaye (Anal. Boll., XXII, 320, and XXIII, 478) says: "The kernel of the legend is a tale narrated by Herodotus, while the existence of the hero of the narrative is not vouched for by any historic document."

FRANCIS MERSHMAN


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