• Theodosios the Coenobiarch
  • Commemoration of the Slain Children of Bethlehem

Theodosios the Coenobiarch

Theodosios the Coenobiarch lived during the reign of Leo the Great in 450 through the reign of Anastasios Dikoros in 491. He came from a village in Cappadocia called Mogarisou and was the son of pious and faithful parents. His father was called Proaeresios and his mother Eulogia. He became a monk, first going to Jerusalem then to Antioch where he met St. Symeon the Stylite from whom he learnt how much he was going to grow in virtue and that he was to become the shepherd of many lambs. Then he settled near a hermit called Longinus. Theodosius ate only once each week ,and for thirty whole years he never ate a morsel of bread.

So, after he had practised every kind of virtue, Theodosios found that he could work miracles. Together with another brother, Theodosios was the only one who could see his disciple Basil who after his death would stand in Church together with the brothers to sing. Theodosios also lit without fire the extinguished coals at that place where he was to build his monastery. He cured a woman from bleeding, and he made the barns fill up after he had blessed a single grain of wheat. He rescued a boy who had fallen into a well by transporting himself into the well; he cured a woman of miscarriages; he sent away a cloud of locusts by reproving them; and he freed the earth, which was suffering from drought and barrenness, bringing down rain through his prayer. Theodosios foretold the devastating earthquake which was to strike the city of Antioch and also saved many people from a storm at sea by appearing to them when they were in danger.

Commemoration of the Slain Children of Bethlehem

On this day, in the second year of the Advent of Christ, the children of Bethlehem were martyred.

King Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also." When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son" (Matthew 2:7-15; Hosea 11:1).

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men (Matthew 7:16). Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more" (Matthew 7:16-18; Jeremiah 31:15). Bethlehem refers to Rachel, and the children were killed close by her tomb, not far from Bethlehem (Genesis 48:7).

St. John the Evangelist wrote in the Book of Revelation, "I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed" (Revelation 6:9-11).

St. John also wrote, "They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes " (Revelation 14:3, 4) and He wipes every tear from their eyes.

Blessed are they, and blessed are the wombs that carried them.

Glory be to God forever. Amen.