St Theodora the Iconodule
This month’s synchroblog has been planned to coincide with International Women’s Day, which is on 8 March. There is interesting information on the history of International Women’s day here, which says, inter alia:
International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies….
On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen’s Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity.
The suggestion was that we should post something about Christian women, or women of the Bible in a synchroblog to mark the day, and I discovered that Bloggers Unite is also planning to mark the day.
This year International Women’s Day falls on a Sunday, which happens to be the First Sunday of Lent, which in the Orthodox Church is celebrated as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and commemorates the victory of the iconodules over the iconoclasts. So one of the women who surely deserves mention on this day is St Theodora the Iconodule, though she has her own feast day on 11 February. The web site of the Orthodox Church of America has a brief hagiography:
Holy Empress Theodora was the wife of the Byzantine emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast (829-842), but she did not share in the heresy of her husband and secretly venerated the holy icons. After the death of her husband, St Theodora governed the realm because her son Michael was a minor.
She convened a Council, at which the Iconoclasts were anathematized, and the veneration of icons was reinstated. St Theodora established the annual celebration of this event, the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on the first Sunday of the Great Fast. St Theodora did much for Holy Church and fostered a firm devotion to Orthodoxy in her son Michael.
When Michael came of age, she was retired from governing and spent eight years in the monastery of St Euphrosyne, where she devoted herself to ascetic struggles, and reading books that nourished her soul.
While her retirement to a monastery seems to have been forced rather than voluntary, and due to a palace intrigue, St Theodora’s influence on the Orthodox Church has been immense. She upheld the teaching of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Second Council of Nicaea, AD 787), and the celebration of the Triumph of Orthodoxy on the first Sunday of Lent, which she started, has been continued ever since.
While many males, not only at court, but in the monasteries, fell into iconoclasm, it was women who persisted in venerating the holy ikons.
This post is part of a synchroblog, in which several others will be posting articles on Christian women in history or women of the Bible to mark International Women’s Day. Links to the other posts in the synchroblog.
- Julie Clawson on the God who sees
- Steve Hayes on St. Theodora the Iconodule
- Sonja Andrews on Aunt Jemima
- Sensuous Wife on a single mom in the Bible
- Minnowspeaks on celebrating women
- Michelle Van Loon on the persistant widow
- Lyn Hallewell on women who walked with God
- Heather on the strength of biblical women
- Shawna Atteberry on the Daughter of Mary Magdalene
- Christine Sine on women who impacted her life
- Susan Barnes on Tamar, Ruth, and Mary
- Kathy Escobar on standing up for nameless and voiceless women
- Ellen Haroutunian on out from under the veil
- Liz Dyer on Mary and Martha
- Bethany Stedman on Shiphrah and Puah
- Dan Brennan on Mary Magdalene
- Jessica Schafer on Bathsheba
- Eugene Cho on Lydia
- Laura sorts through what she knows about women in the Bible
- Miz Melly preached on the woman at the well
- AJ Schwanz on women’s work
- Pam Hogeweide on teenage girls changing the world
- Teresa on the women Paul didn’t hate
- Helen on Esther
- Happy on Abigail
- Mark Baker-Wright on telling stories
- Robin M. on Eve
- Alan Knox is thankful for the women who served God
- Lainie Petersen on the unnamed concubine
- Mike Clawson on cultural norms in the early church
- Krista on serving God
- Bob Carlton on Barbie as Icon
- Jan Edmiston preached on the unnamed concubine
- Deb on her namesake – Deborah
- Makeesha on empowering women
- Kate on Esther
- Doreen Mannion on Deborah
- Patrick Oden on Rahab
- Scot McKnight on Junia
- Jonathan Stegall on Eve
- InHo Kim on Sarah
- Mimi Haddad on deception
- Beth on Esther