St. Thekla, Protomartyr and Equal to the Apostles
Commemorated on September 24
Thekla was born in Iconium (modern Konya, Turkey) to wealthy parents. After having heard St. Paul speak when she was eighteen years of age, she decided she must follow Christ and abandon her plans to marry. Her mother and her fiancé were opposed to this decision, and their accusations to the governor landed St. Paul in prison. St. Thekla slipped away from her house to visit St. Paul, having bribed the guards with her gold jewelry to gain entrance.
At his trial, St. Paul was banished from the city, and Thekla refused to change her mind against the threats from her mother and the governor. She was firm in her conviction to devote herself to Jesus Christ the Bridegroom. Her mother, enraged, persuaded the judge to sentence Thekla to burn to death. Emboldened by her love for Christ, she made the sign of the Cross over the flames and was surrounded by a light, untouched by the flames. Rain, and hail extinguished the fire, and, with thunder, helped to drive away those who wished to put her to death.
She sought out St. Paul and his companions, including St. Barnabas, who were hiding in a cave near the city, and proceeded to spread the Gospel of Christ with them in Antioch. Throughout her life, she performed many miraculous feats and suffered many tortures to give glory to God. Having retired to a desolate region of Isaurian Seleucia with the blessing of St. Paul, Thekla continued to preach God's word.
When St. Thekla had reached the age of 90, pagans appeared with the purpose of killing her. St. Thekla called on Christ, and a large rock split open, covering her. Thereafter, she offered up her soul to the Lord.
Troparion (Tone 4) –
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.
Kontakion (Tone 8) -
O glorious Thekla, virginity was your splendor,
The crown of martyrdom your adornment and the faith you trust!
You turned a burning fire into refreshing dew,
And with your prayers appeased pagan fury, O First Woman Martyr!