Commemorated on February 17
Holy Hieromartyr Theodore of Atchara belongs to the glorious
multitude of Atcharan faithful who were martyred at the hands of the
Saint Theodore was born in the late 18th century. At
that time the Ottoman invaders had nearly completed the forced
Islamization of the Atcharan region. They had already annihilated those
who resisted the conversion and were beginning to evict those who, in
spite of their apparent acceptance of Islam, continued to “arouse
suspicions.” Some abandoned their native region and fled to foreign
Saint Theodore was born to a family that had been forced
into exile. From his childhood he watched his fellow countrymen, who had
been forcibly converted to Islam, secretly retain their Christian way
of life. It is unclear how the saint’s family settled in Trebizond
(modern Trabzon). It is known, however, that Saint Theodore managed to
free himself from Islam, receive Christianity, and find refuge at a
Georgian monastery in Smyrna (now Izmir). There he was tonsured a monk
and later raised to the rank of proigoumenos (deputy abbot). It is also known that Saint Theodore converted his nephew to Christianity during that time.
1822 Saint Theodore set out on a pilgrimage to Mt. Athos. But at the
same time the Ottomans were attempting to crush the Greek independence
movement, and the Holy Mountain was surrounded by Ottoman soldiers. They
captured the faithful pilgrim and killed him. Then they tossed the holy
martyr’s body into the sea.
The Holy Synod of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church canonized Holy Martyr Theodore on October 17, 2002.
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