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E02052: The Greek Martyrdom of *Theodoros the Recruit (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), of the 4th c. or later, recounts the martyrdom by fire of the young soldier at Amaseia/Amasea of Pontus (northern Asia Minor); it also mentions *Kleonikos (martyr of Pontus, S01153) as a companion of Theodoros. Finally, it recounts the burial of the saint by Eusebia, and his festival on 8 June, 9 November, or 22 February (variant versions). Written in Pontus.

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posted on 2016-11-28, 00:00 authored by erizos
Martyrdom of Theodoros the Recruit (BHG 1761, 1762, 1762c, 1762d)


§ 1. Under Maximian and Maximinus, a persecution of Christians breaks out. Theodoros is recruited together with several others in the East, to join the legion of the Marmaritae, which has its base at Amaseia of Helenopontus, under the command of the praepositus Vringas. Theodoros kills a dragon plaguing a road in a forested place, near the town of Euchaita.

§ 2. Theodoros is brought before Vringas, in order to sacrifice, but refuses. He confesses his faith. Both Vringas and the ducenarius Poseidonios ask him to show respect for the gods and the emperors, despite his Christian faith. They give him a few days to reconsider.

§ 3.Theodoros encourages other arrested Christians from the city not to yield. While they are kept in gaol, he sets fire to the temple of the Mother of the Gods. The logistes (curator) Kronides arrests him and brings him to the judge Pouplios Stratōn, who consults with Vringas to discover if the soldier has acted on the latter's commands.

§ 4. Straton interrogates Theodoros, and demands that he sacrifices, which he refuses to. The martyr is locked in gaol, to be starved to death.

§ 5. During the night, Theodoros has a vision of Christ encouraging him, and warning him not to eat or drink of anything the persecutors will give him. Angels appear singing with him, terrifying his guards. Soldiers surround the prison, but Theodoros is found alone with the door locked.

§ 6. He is summoned by the judge who attempts to allure him with promises of high office and archpriesthood. Theodoros declines the offer, and the judge orders that he be tortured, which the martyr endures with bravery.

§ 7. The judge condemns Theodoros to be burned alive. Firewood is gathered from the baths and workshops of the town. Theodoros takes off his clothes and asks that he be not nailed to the wood. They bind him.

§ 8. The martyr offers a prayer of thanksgiving, and prays for the other recruits that have been arrested together with him. Addressing Kleonikos, he says that he will be waiting for him in the eternal life. The fire is lit, but it forms an arch, surrounding Theodoros’ body without burning it. His soul is seen received in heaven like a lightning bolt.

§ 9. A certain Eusebia requests the body of the martyr and buries it in a coffin/sarcophagus (glōssokomos) at her home.

§ 10. The martyr died on 8 June, under Maximian and Maximinus.

BHG 1762, 1762c, and 1762d mention that Eusebia buried Theodoros at Euchaita, where his feast is still held. Some manuscripts place the feast on 9 November, others on 22 February.

Text: Delehaye 1909, 127-135. Summary: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480 Kleonikos, martyr in Pontus, ob. early 4th c. : S01153

Saint Name in Source

Θεόδωρος Κλεόνικος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Amasea Euchaita

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Amasea Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Euchaita Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - sarcophagus/coffin

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle with animals and plants Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miracle at martyrdom and death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The text of this martyrdom account is preserved in 32 manuscripts, dating from the 9th to 15th centuries, on which see: (accessed 03/02/2017)


This text represents the main surviving version of the martyrdom account of one of the most popular martyrs of inner Anatolia. The legend of Theodoros/Theodore of Amaseia and Euchaita was known already in the late 4th century, and is first attested in an encomium delivered at the saint’s shrine by Gregory of Nyssa (E01747). Gregory recounts the story of the saint, following roughly the account of our text, with certain differences. This suggests that both our martyrdom account and Gregory's sermon are based on a 4th c. hagiographic model. An early version of our text was probably known to Chrysippos of Jerusalem, who composed an encomium on Theodoros in the 470s ($04625). An element mentioned by Chrysippos, but not Gregory of Nyssa, is the story about the collection of the relics by the noble lady Eusebia. Two elements of our text seem to be secondary interpolations: the miracle of the dragon in § 1, and the description of the saint’s martyrdom in §§ 7 and 8. The latter is entirely borrowed from the Martyrdom of Polycarp of Smyrna (E00035). These elements may have been added in the 6th century or later. The martyrdom of Theodoros seems to have been linked to the hagiographies of other martyrs from the region of Amaseia, as suggested by his last words addressing a certain Kleonikos in § 8. The story of *Kleonikos (S01153) and his companions *Eutropios (S01152) and *Basiliskos (S00388), is recounted by another martyrdom account (E02055). All these martyrs were venerated at shrines in villages surrounding Amaseia, and were linked by the same legends. It is possible that their hagiographies were initially gathered in a continuous local martyrological corpus.


Text: Delehaye, H., Les légendes grecques des saints militaires. (Paris: Picard, 1909), 127-135. Translation and commentary: Haldon, J., A Tale of Two Saints: The Martyrdoms and Miracles of Saints Theodore 'the Recruit' and 'the General', (Translated Texts for Byzantinists 2; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016). Further Reading: Leemans, J., "Hagiography and Historical-Critical Analysis: The Earliest Layer of the Dossier of Theodore the Recruit (BHG 1760 and 1761)," in: J. Leemans (ed.) Martyrdom and Persecution in Late Antique Christianity: Festschrift Boudewijn Dehandschutter (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium; Leuven: Peeters, 2010), 333-351. Walter, C., "Theodore, Archetype of the Warrior Saint," Revue des Études Byzantines 57 (1999), 163–210. Walter, C., The Warrior Saints in Byzantine Art and Tradition (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003).

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