Saint Thecla the Protomartyr and Equal to the Apostles

Feast Day: September 24th


The Life of Saint Thecla: But after she heard the preaching of the Holy Apostle Paul about the Saviour, Saint Thecla with all her heart came to love the Lord Jesus Christ…

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Prayers

Apolytikion: You were enlightened by the words of Paul, O Bride of God, Thekla, and your faith was confirmed by Peter, O Chosen One of God. You became the first sufferer and Martyr among women, by entering into the flames as into a place of gladness. For when you accepted the Cross of Christ, the demonic powers were frightened away. O all-praised one, intercede before Christ God that our Souls may be saved.

Apolytikion: Inspired by the divine teacher’s words, you were inflamed with love for your Creator. You disdained all Earthly pleasures, and endured wild beasts and fire. O glorious Thekla, companion of Paul, entreat your Divine Bridegroom, to grant us His Great Mercy.

Kontakion: You shone out with the beauty of virginity, you were adorned with a Crown of Martyrdom, you were entrusted with the work of an Apostle, glorious virgin; and you changed the fire’s flame to dew, while by Prayer you tamed the raging of the bull as victorious first champion.

Ikos: The brilliance of an honoured feast brightly outshines the sun; for blazing with beams of light it is mirrored in the eyes of the faithful; therefore as we dance with the Angels, let us all shout aloud to God our Saviour, as we cry to Him: You have multiplied your mercies, O Saviour, by giving a perfect gift to Your people: the victorious first champion.

Verses: He saved you, Thekla, when He rent the rock, He at Whose passion once the rocks were rent. ‘Twas on the twenty fourth day that a rock enfolded great Thekla.

Ode: Is there any who would not marvel, Protomartyr, at your indomitable courage? For having tamed the passions, wild beasts of the mind, you did not quail before the impotent assaults of wild beasts, but remained in their midst unharmed.

Ode: Even the sheer untrodden rock was rent by God’s command for the God-bearing Martyr, sealed as God’s bride by the bath of rebirth; and like a bridal chamber for the fugitive it received her in its arms.

Ode: Doctor the bruises of my Soul, First Champion; crown the world with peace, giving victories to our faithful, sovereign against hostile barbarians and peace to the Churches by your supplications.

Ode: The stadium of the contest lies before us today. Peoples, let us dance and let us observe the wondrous deeds that are accomplished there; for a spotless lamb, the fair virgin and bride of God Thekla is brought out for slaughter for the sake of Christ our God who was slaughtered; and so by the faith of the Trinity she destroyed the godlessness of tyrants and, as she dances with the Angels, she intercedes with the Saviour that our Souls may be saved.

Ode: Brave champion Thekla, with Christ as your Bridegroom in Heaven, you despised your earthly suitor; for wisely you did not yield to a mother’s flatteries, but followed Paul, taking on your shoulders the standard of the Cross. The fire did not harm you; you changed the savagery of the wild beasts to tameness; you slew seals by the descent into Christ that is Holy Baptism. But, as you were distinguished by noble contests, do not cease to intercede continually with the Lord for those who in faith celebrate your ever-honoured memory.

Ode: You dedicated yourself to the All-Powerful Will; strengthened as Christ’s champion and abandoning Earthly love, you were declared the lamp of eternal life; you are a blessed bridal chamber, in which flocks of women, having found the entrance to eternal life take their rest. With them, Apostle Thekla, intercede for our Souls.

Ode: Lovers of Martyrs, strike up the dance, for the season of contests is upon us, and the yearly memorial of the Protomartyr, which urges all to give Glory to God: for Thekla, the first of Martyrs among women, has accomplished her contest, is the first to be declared the victor and she intercedes with boldness for our Souls.

Ode: Protomartyr of Christ, it was not only the races of mankind that marvelled but wild beasts too were astonished. For you the flames were not reckoned as flames, fair virgin Thekla, because of your Bridegroom Christ, for you were glad as you suffered for Him and were parted from the world that you might gain the blessedness of Heaven as you intercede with boldness for our Souls.


When she was eighteen years old, Saint Thekla was sitting in the neighbourhood and heard through the door of a house Saint Paul preaching about Christ. She longingly listened to his words and came to love Christ and decided to dedicate her life to Him. She therefore told her parents and fiancee about this and called off her marriage to which they strongly disagreed, and for this reason Saint Paul was locked in prison.

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During the night, Saint Thecla secretly left her home and bribed the prison guards to let her see Saint Paul by giving them her own gold ornaments. Saint Thecla spent three days and nights sitting at the feet of the Holy Apostle Paul in his prison cell, listening to him speak about Christ and the Christian way of life.

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After much searching, her parents found Saint Thekla and brought her home by force, and tried to persuade her to continue with the marriage. However, because of her great love for her Heavenly Bridegroom Christ, Saint Thekla did not change her mind and therefore her mother organised for her to be sentenced to death by fire. Saint Thekla made the Sign of the Cross over herself and stepped into the flames where she saw Christ appear to her and bless her, and she remained unharmed.

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Saint Thekla left the city and found Saint Paul once again, he and his companions were hiding in a cave near the city, Praying for Christ to strengthen Saint Thekla in her persecutions. Overcome with joy, Saint Thekla joined them in preaching the Gospel in Antioch.

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Saint Thekla experienced further temptations and persecutions for being a Christian and for wishing to remain a virgin for Christ. Two times she was sentenced to death by lions, which instead lay down meekly at her feet. She was later tied to two bulls to be dragged behind them, however the rope broke, and the people who saw how much God was protecting Saint Thekla all exclaimed “Great is the God of the Christians!”

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Upon being set free, Saint Thekla remained in the region of Isaurian Seleucia where many were converted to Christianity through her preaching and miracles she wrought by her Prayers. Many women joined Saint Thekla in her Holy way of life, wishing to imitate her Holy zeal and asceticism.

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When she was 90 years old, Saint Thekla was chased by pagan sorcerers who wanted to defile the Holy virgin. This is because they envied the miracles she would perform through the Grace of God to countless people free of charge; healing physical illnesses and releasing many from demonic possession. Saint Thekla cried out to Christ to help her, and she heard a Divine Voice telling her to enter the rock which had just split open. Saint Thekla hid in here, and it was here that the bride of Christ gave up her Soul into the hands of her most beloved Bridegroom.

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Throughout her life, she was constantly facing temptations for the destruction of her Soul, however Saint Thekla was kept by the power of God and her love for Him. It is for this reason that even though she experienced a peaceful repose, Saint Thekla received the Crown of Martyrdom because her entire life was one of Martyrdom for her great love of Christ. Saint Thekla therefore has the Blessed titles of the First Woman Martyr, Great Ascetic, Wonderworker, and Equal to the Apostles.

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Saint Thekla is known today as a powerful intercessor for Ascetics, and she is called upon in Prayer during the Monastic Tonsure of a woman.

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