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Empress Theodora


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#1 Hrisi Perri

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 03:07 PM

Hello,
I'm not sure I am posting this in the right forum; however, I am working on a research paper on Empress Theodora. Specifically on why she was canonized in the church. Does anyone know where I can find that information?

Thank you

#2 Owen

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 05:39 PM

Theodora caught the eye of Justinian, who eventually married her. She was allegedly responsible for stiffening his backbone when the Nike Sedition threatened to topple the government. If she made it in as a Saint, it's probably because she was Justinian's wife; she was, in fact, a Monophysite.

#3 Theodora E.

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 05:39 PM

Which Empress Theodora? There are two sainted Empress Theodoras.

1. Wife of the Emperor Justinian

2. Wife of the Emperor Theophilus, the last iconoclast emperor, who died in 842. This Empress Theodora (a secret venerator of icons while her husband was alive) was responsible for the return of the icons to the churches after the second portion of the iconoclast period (815-842). This return of the icons to the churches happened on the first Sunday of Great Lent in 843, and has been celebrated every first Sunday of Great Lent since, as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, also called the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

This second Theodora is my patron saint, which is how I know so much about her. :)

#4 Hrisi Perri

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 07:01 PM

Thanks for the quick responses.
Sorry I was not specific as to which Theodora- it is in fact Theodora, wife of Justinian.
The research paper is for my grad school class and since it needs to be about 20 pages long, I am trying to find where or when our church canonized her.

#5 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 02:05 PM

I would be surprised to learn that the Theodora who was Justinian's wife was ever canonized. I have never seen her honored as a saint, and her reputation does not give us reason to wonder why.

#6 Eric Peterson

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 04:18 PM

The Most Pious Empress Righteous Theodora is commemorated on the Orthodox Church calendar along with her husband the Most Pious Emperor Righteous Justinian on November 14.

http://www.oca.org/f...SID=4&M=11&D=14

As to when their names were added to the calendar, that may be difficult to ascertain without having access to ancient documents. The same would be true for other saints.

#7 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 06:10 PM

Thanks, Eric. I am indeed surprised.

#8 Kosta

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 09:32 PM

The best place to research, was the effect her life had on normal everyday women especially amongst the lower social classes. Her veneration would originate from these women. While black and white theological history seems to portray her as someone quite unlikely to ever be glorified a saint, the common man especially the common woman she would be a lofty role model, she was vastly different from St Mary of Egypt yet so similar in their early days.

Theodora was a great influence in the code of Justinian, especially pertaining to newly enacted laws outlawing rape against slaves and other lower social classe women. Theodora was of lowly origins herself and there were a double standard in law between the rape of peasant women (law did not recognize it) and that of the nobility. Her influence changed the life of many women of "humble' origins even before he actually married her in Justinian's law. BBefore Justinian a noble man could not marry a prostitute, so Justinian changed the law so he could (wiki quoting Procopius):
Book 5, title 4, chapter 23. "Deeming it the proper subject of imperial benevolence to investigate and at all times foster the advantages of our subjects, we think that the errors also of women, through which, on account of the frailty of their sex, they may choose a mode of life unworthy of their honor, should be corrected by proper restraint, so that they may not be deprived of the hope of a better condition, but may look forward to that and thus more easily avoid an inconsiderate and dishonorable alliance. For we believe that we can thus imitate, as much as it possible for us to do, the benevolence and great clemency of God to the human race, who contescends always to pardon the daily sins of men, to receive our rependance and to lend us back to a better condition: if we fail to do this in the case of those subjected to our sway, we shall be unworthy of forgiveness."[9]

"Thus since it would be unjust that slaves should be able to receive their freedom by imperial indulgence and be restored to their natural rights so as to live, upon bestowal of imperial beneficence of that kind, as if they had never been slaves and had always been free born, but that women, who have been on the stage, but who have changed their mind and have abandoned a dishonorable profession, should have no hope of imperial beneficence which might lead them back to the condition in which they might have lived if they had not sinned, we grant them by this beneficent imperial sanction the right that, if they abandon their dishonorable conduct, and embrace a better and honorable mode of life, they may supplicate our majesty, and they will unhesitatingly be granted asn imperial rescript permitting to enter into a legal marriage."[9]
"Persons who marry them need not fear that such alliance will be invalid under the provisions of our former laws, but may be confident that such matrimony shall be as valid as if their wives had not previously lived any dishonorable life, whether the husbands possess a title or are otherwise forbidden to marry women that have been on the stage, provided that such alliance must be proven by marriage documents, and not otherwise."[9]
"Such women shall be entirely cleansed of all stain as if they had been returned to their natal condition. No dishonor shall adhere to them, and we want no difference to exist between them and those who have not sinned in a similar matter".[9]

Procopius (who was a contemporary) sums up the attitudes of the faithful towards Theodora alittle after her death, his final sentences from the below quote gives us incite as to how she became a saint:

Instead, he preferred to make his own what had been common to all men, alike, careless of all her revealed history, took in wedlock a woman who was not only guilty of every other contamination but boasted of her many abortions." ... "However, not a single member of even the Senate, seeing this disgrace befalling the State, dared to complain or forbid the event; but all of them bowed down before her as if she were a goddess. Nor was there a priest who showed any resentment, but all hastened to greet her as Highness. And the populace who had seen her before on the stage, directly raised its hands to proclaim itself her slave in fact and in name. Nor did any soldier grumble at being ordered to risk the perils of war for the benefit of Theodora, nor was there any man on earth who ventured to oppose her. Confronted with this disgrace, they all yielded, I suppose, to necessity, for it was as if Fate were giving proof of its power to control mortal affairs as malignantly as it pleases, showing that its decrees need not always be according to reason or human propriety. Thus does Destiny sometimes raise mortals suddenly to lofty heights in defiance of reason, in challenge to all out cries of injustice; but admits no obstacle, urging on his favorites to the appointed goal without let or hindrance. But as this is the will of God, so let it befall and be written."[8]

Here is an excerpt from a book called biography of the byzantine emperess Theodora by Jone Lewis, "Through her relationship with her husband, who seems to have treated her as his intellectual partner, Theodora had a real effect on the political decisions of the empire. Justinian writes, for instance, that he consulted Theodora when he promulgated a constitution which included reforms meant to end corruption by public officials. She is credited with influencing many other reforms, including some which expanded the rights of women in divorce and property ownership, forbid exposure of unwanted infants, gave mothers some guardianship rights over their children, and forbid the killing of a wife who committed adultery. She closed brothels and created convents where the ex-prostitutes could support themselves"




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