1st Saturday of Great Lent
St Theodore the Recruit
Commemorated on March 12
Today we remember the miracle of St Theodore and the boiled wheat. Fifty years after the death of St Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the Christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the marketplaces with the blood offered to idols. St Theodore appeared in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius, ordering him to inform all the Christians that no one should buy anything at the marketplaces, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey (kolyva).
In memory of this occurrence, the Orthodox Church annually celebrates the holy Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit on the first Saturday of Great Lent. On Friday evening, at the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts following the prayer at the ambo, the Canon to the holy Great Martyr Theodore, composed by St John of Damascus, is sung. After this, kolyva is blessed and distributed to the faithful. The celebration of the Great Martyr Theodore on the first Saturday of Great Lent was set by the Patriarch Nectarius of Constantinople (381-397).
The Troparion to St Theodore is quite similar to the Troparion for the Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths (December 17, Sunday Before Nativity). The Kontakion to St Theodore, who suffered martyrdom by fire, reminds us that he also had faith as his breastplate (see I Thessalonians 5:8).
Saint Theodore is also commemorated on February 17.