Commemorated on February 8th
Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Commander & The Holy Prophet Zechariah
The holy Martyr Theodore was from Euchaita of Galatia and dwelt in Heraclea of Pontus. He was a renowned commander in the military, and the report came to the Emperor Licinios that he was a Christian and abominated the idols. Licinios therefore sent certain men to him from Nicomedia, to honour him and ask him to appear before him. Through them, however, St Theodore sent back a message that it was necessary, for various reasons that Licinios come to Heraclea. Licinios, seeing in this a hope of turning St Theodore away from Christ, did as was asked of him.
When the Emperor came to Heraclea, St Theodore met him with honour, and the Emperor in turn gave Theodore his hand, believing that through him he would be able to draw the Christians to the worship of his idols. Seated upon his throne in the midst of the people, he publicly bade Theodore offer sacrifice to the gods. However, Theodore asked that the Emperor entrust him with the most venerable of his gods, those of gold and silver, that he might take them home and himself attend upon them that evening, promising that the following day he would honour them in public. The Emperor, filled with joy at these tidings, gave command that Theodore's request be fulfilled.
When the Saint had taken the idols home, he broke them in pieces and distributed the gold and silver to the poor by night. The next day a centurion named Maxentios told Licinios that he had seen a pauper pass by carrying the head of Artemis. St Theodore, far from repenting of this, confessed Christ boldly. Licinios, in an uncontrollable fury, had the Saint put to many torments, then crucified. While upon the cross, the holy Martyr was further tormented: his privy parts were cut off, he was shot with arrows, his eyes were put out, and he was left on the cross to die. The next day Licinios sent men to take his corpse and cast it into the sea; but they found the Saint alive and whole. Through this, many believed in Christ. Seeing his own men turning to Christ, and the city in an uproar, Licinios had Theodore beheaded, about the year 320 AD. The Saint's holy relics were returned to his ancestral home on June 8, which is also a feast of the Great Martyr Theodore.
The Prophet Zachariah was the son of Barachias, and a contemporary of the Prophet Aggeus (commemorated December 16). In the days of the Babylonian captivity, he prophesied, as it says in the book of Ezra, "to the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem" (Ezra 5:1); he aided Zorobabel in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the book of Ezra he is called "Zachariah the son of Addo (or Iddo)", but in his own prophetic book he is called more fully "Zachariah, the son of Barachias, the son of Addo the Prophet" (Zach 1:1). When the captivity returned from Babylon, he came to dwell in Jerusalem in his old age. His book of prophecy is divided into 14 chapters and has the 11th place among the books of the minor Prophets; his name means "Yah is renowned". Sozomen reports that under the Emperor Honorios, Zachariah's holy relics were found in Eleutheropolis of Palestine. The Prophet appeared in a dream to a certain Calemeros, telling him where he would find his tomb, and his body was found to be incorrupt.
Dismissal Hymn of the Martyr (Fourth Tone)
You were raised up
In truth enlisted with the King of the Heavens, you become for Him a noble commander, O trophy bearer, and Great Martyr Theodore. With the weaponry of faith, you armed yourself wisely and utterly destroyed all the hordes of the demons, as a triumphant athlete of the Lord; wherefore we ever do faithfully call you blest.
Dismissal Hymn of the Prophet (Second Tone)
As we celebrate the memory of Your Prophet Zachariah, O Lord, through him we beseech You to save our souls.
Kontakion of the Martyr (Second Tone)
You sought the heights
In courage of soul, and furnished with the arms of faith, you took in hand the word of God as though a spear and put your foe to flight, you great boast of Martyrs, O Theodore; now together with them, O Saint, cease not to entreat Christ God for all of us.
Kontakion of the Prophet (Fourth Tone)
On this day You have appeared
As a brightly shining lamp that was illumined with the Spirit's fiery beams, O Zachariah most renowned, you prefigured with clarity the Saviour's great and untold condescension toward us.