Saint Theodora of Alexandria

Died 491 AD

Feast Day: September 11

Saint Theodora was a penitent and Desert Mother. According to legend, Theodora was a woman who lived in Alexandria in Egypt at the end of the 5th century. She was married to a nobleman and lived in high esteem as a pious woman. Through a jealous man who had been rejected by her and who had engaged a clairvoyant, she was deceived and tempted into adultery. She felt bitter regret and immediately decided to do penance. She left her home when her husband was absent, dressed in men's clothes and cut her hair, entered a monastery in Thebaid and called herself Theodorus. Here she lived for a long time in all simplicity and obedience.

Theodora thus began his life as a monk and soon became an example of abstinence, penance and holiness for all his brothers. After an overnight stay at an inn by the innkeeper's daughter was charged with fornication. The daughter turned out to be pregnant and designated Theodorus as the father. The innkeeper took the child to the monastery and Theodora's abbot and confreres were so shocked and angry with her that they put her outside the monastery walls. She refused to reveal her true identity and lived in a shack for seven years, raising the child as her own. Here she was much tormented by the devil, but she always managed to resist it with her pure heart and deep faith.

After seven years she was allowed to return to the monastery and after two years she died after she had spoken to her former son that he should be a pious man and love God above all else. It was only after her death that the brothers discovered that she was a woman and thus unfairly accused and treated. In this way she had paid off the debt that someone else had deserved. An angel appeared to her husband, who had her buried and then entered the monastery. Her former son later became the abbot's successor. Theodora is especially venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church and counted among the Desert Mothers.

Canonization: stage venerable
A venerable, also called hosios, is an Orthodox saint who came closer to God through monastic life. They are the holiest among the monks who have tried through prayer, fasting and their works to be like Jesus Christ. Others also try to be like Christ, but monasticism intensifies this pursuit and leads to this venerable title. Theodora is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Episcopal Church.