The following life of St Theodora is taken from the book "Marriage as a Path to Holiness, Lives of Married Saints" by David and Mary Ford.
Saint Theodora was born to eminent and pious parents, who raised her in Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey), the capital city of the Empire. On June 5, 830, this very intelligent and beautiful woman married Theophilus, one year after he had become the Byzantine Emperor. Together they had seven children - five daughters and two sons.
But their married life was strained by Theophilus' hostility towards the holy icons of the Church, and his brutal persecution of the iconodules - those who continued to venerate them. Theodora defied her husband on this issue, and continued her devotion to the holy images. She also was able to secure the release from prison of one of the most eminent iconographers of that era - Saint Lazarus (we celebrate his memory on Nov. 30).
When Emperor Theophilus died in 842, St Theodora took control of the throne on behalf of their son, Michael, who was too young to rule on his own. She took this opportunity to have an iconodule, Methodius, appointed as Patriarch of Constantinople, and to call a council of the Church in March of 843, which solemnly reinstituted the veneration of the holy icons. She insisted that the council agree not to condemn her recently deceased husband, for she avowed that he had repented of his iconoclasm on his deathbed.
In celebration of the restoration of the icons, St Theodora led a huge procession with icons in the streets of Constantinople, on Sunday, March 11, 843. This was the first Sunday of Great Lent in that year. Ever since, the Church has celebrated the restoration of the icons on the first Sunday of Lent, in a service known as the Triumph of Orthodoxy.
Fifteen years later, after St Theodora's son Michael had taken the throne for himself, he exiled her and his four sisters to the Gastrion Monastery. She accepted this graciously, and worked ever more diligently for her salvation.
St Theodora died peacefully on Feb. 24, 867. Later, her relics were found to be incorrupt.
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