When I first learned about the story of Paul and Thecla I was instantly intrigued because this was a story I had never heard before certainly not in my Sunday school. It of course demanded some research and opened up another look into the early days of Christianity. I have to admit I was not a big fan of Paul. Basically with the death of Jesus he simply took of over the religion the religion even though he had never met Jesus. Not only had they never met but he was a Pharisee and a sworn enemy of Christians. He took it in a direction that seemed totally at odds with Jesus’ teachings. Where Jesus seemed anxious to keep it under the traditions of his people Paul was anxious to expand it. Paul also invented the concept of Jesus sacrificing himself as the sacrificial Passover Lamb to take away the sins of mankind from the original sin of Eve with the fruit in the garden. Whereas the Jewish tradition followed the path of merely an expulsion Paul added new layers. The story of Paul and Techla added new dimensions to this controversial man.
A couple of weeks ago I was kidding Pastor Evelyn Macway at Trinity Presbyterian asking her when she was going to speak on some of the theories about women as stated by Paul and Timothy. She allowed that it might be awhile before she did that. Why? Well Paul had his opinion on how women should behave in church which reflected his own time but is rather outdated today. It reminded me when I was at a Reform Temple in Riverside with a woman Rabbi where in the orthodox synagogues women are kept behind a screen and not allowed to mix with the men and the comment by one of the men was, “Well in some synagogues we would have to seal the rabbi in a bottle.”
What did Paul say? Well in Corinthians we read his letter to them as “”As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?” (1 Cor. 14:33b-36 NIV).
Of course this is only followed in a few conservative churches and the general view in theological circles is that this was actually written by Paul’s companion Timothy. One of Timothy’s quotes is “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” Was Paul a sexist who offended all his women followers? No. In fact one of his noted followers was a young woman named Thecla. Her story is recorded in a 2nd century book called “Acts of Paul and Thecla”. It was Thecla who supposedly gave us the description that has come down to us of Paul. She said that she saw him approaching and he was short, bald and had bandy legs. Not a promising first sight. Thecla’s room overlooked where Paul was preaching and she would sit in her room at the window and listen. At the time Paul was preaching that in order to please God women must be chaste. This philosophy concerned her mother and of course her fiancé Thamyris. Thecla and Paul were so involved with each other that some called her an apostle and a role model for women especially in the Eastern Church. Her fiancé was so incensed that he tried to have her and Paul punished with her being burned at the stake. She was saved from this fate when a storm blew up and quenched the fire. After surviving this she and Paul traveled to Antioch and while there a nobleman tried to take her by force but after she struck him she was sentenced to be devoured by wild beasts and saved only when the female animals protected her.
Thecla is acknowledged to be one of the earliest Virgin Martyrs and honored by both the Catholic and Orthodox churches where with the Catholic Church her feast day is on September 23 and by the Orthodox September 24th. So obviously when we look into the early traditions there is more to Paul then just telling women to be silent and keep their heads covered. Something in his preaching must have appealed to Thecla leading her to abandon what had been his life and follow him. Maybe with this in mind Evie can preach a sermon on Paul’s views on women. Paul’s views were certainly not Jesus’ but then Paul only met him in a vision so there probably wasn’t much time for them to exchange philosophies.
So what is this “Acts of Paul and Thecla?” Was it forged? Well here is the translation of the book which even if it was a forgery certainly is a part of the early literature of the church.
ACTS OF PAUL AND THECLA
THE LIFE OF THE HOLY MARTYR THECLA OF ICONIUM, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES
Translated by Jeremiah Jones, (1693 – 1724)
[NOTE IN THE 1820 EDITION EDITED BY WILLIAM HONE]
Tertullian says that this piece was forged by a Presbyter of Asia, who being convicted, “confessed that he did it out of respect of Paul,” and Pope Gelasius, in his Decree against apocryphal books, inserted it among them. Notwithstanding this, a large part of the history was credited, and looked upon as genuine among the primitive Christians. Cyprian, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Austin [Augustine], Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, and Severus Sulpitius, who all lived within the fourth century, mention Thecla, or refer to her history. Basil of Seleucia wrote her acts, sufferings, and victories, in verse; and Euagrius Scholasticus, an ecclesiastical historian, about 590, relates that “after the Emperor Zeno had abdicated his empire, and Basilik had taken possession of it, he had a vision of the holy and excellent martyr Thecla, who promised him the restoration of his empire; for which, when it was brought about, he erected and dedicated a most noble and sumptuous temple to this famous martyr Thecla, at Seleucia, a city of Isauria, and bestowed upon it very noble endowments, which (says the author) are preserved even to this day.” (Hist. Eccl., IIb. 3, cap. 8)
Cardinal Baronius, Locrinus, Archbishop Wake, and others, and also the learned Grabe, who edited the Septuagint, and revived the Acts of Paul and Thecla, consider them as having been written in the Apostolic age; as containing nothing superstitious, or disagreeing from the opinions and belief of those times; and, in short, as genuine and authentic history. Again, it is said, that this is not the original book of the early Christians; but however that may be, it is published from the Greek MS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, which Dr. Mills copied and transmitted to Dr. Grabe.
[NOTE FOR THE ST. PACHOMIUS LIBRARY EDITION]
The skepticism mentioned in the previous sentence has been partly occasioned by the rather extreme praise of celibacy found in “The Acts of Paul and Thecla”, language often associated with certain Gnostic groups. It is certainly possible that the present form of the text reflects the preferences or even the insertions of Gnostic editors; it is also possible that Orthodox editors toned down a text which was even more extreme. The only passages which explicitly condemn marriage (the Encratite heresy) are 2:16 and 4:2, and it will be noted that the speaker is not Paul himself but his accuser attributing this view to the Apostle.
In any case, the tradition of the Church is that the life of St. Thecla followed the course described in her acts, whether or not every word attributed to St. Paul was accurately recorded. The physical description of Paul in 1:7 is very famous, and in agreement with iconographic tradition.
THE ACTS OF PAUL AND THECLA
1:1 When Paul went up to Iconium, after his flight from Antioch, Demas and Hermogenes became his companions, who were then full of hypocrisy.
1:2 But Paul looking only at the goodness of God, did them no harm, but loved them greatly.
1:3 Accordingly he endeavored to make agreeable to them all the oracles and doctrines of Christ, and the design of the Gospel of God’s well-beloved Son, instructing them in the knowledge of Christ, as it was revealed to him.
1:4 And a certain man named Onesiphorus, hearing that Paul was come to Iconium, went out speedily to meet him, together with his wife Lectra, and his sons Simmia and Xeno, to invite him to their house.
1:5 For Titus had given them a description of Paul’s personage, they as yet not knowing him in person, but only being acquainted with his character.
1:6 They went in the king’s highway to Lystra, and stood there waiting for him, comparing all who passed by, with that description which Titus had given them.
1:7 At length they saw a man coming (namely Paul), of a low stature, bald (or shaved) on the head, crooked thighs, handsome legs, hollow-eyed; had a crooked nose; full of grace; for sometimes he appeared as a man, sometimes he had the countenance of an angel. And Paul saw Onesiphorus, and was glad.
1:8 And Onesiphorus said: Hail, thou servant of the blessed God. Paul replied, The grace of God be with thee and thy family.
1:9 But Demas and Hermogenes were moved with envy, and, under a show of great religion, Demas said, And are not we also servants of the blessed God? Why didst thou not salute us?
1:10 Onesiphorus replied, Because I have not perceived in you the fruits of righteousness; nevertheless, if ye are of that sort, ye shall be welcome to my house also.
1:11 Then Paul went into the house of Onesiphorus, and here was great joy among the family on that account: and they employed themselves in prayer, breaking of bread, and hearing Paul preach the word of God concerning the temperance and the resurrection, in the following manner:
1:12 Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
1:13 Blessed are they who keep their flesh undefiled (or pure); for they shall be the temple of God.
1:14 Blessed are the temperate (or chaste); for God will reveal himself to them.
1:15 Blessed are they who abandon their secular enjoyments; for they shall be accepted of God.
1:16 Blessed are they who have wives, as though they had them not; for they shall be made angels of God.
1:17 Blessed are they who tremble at the word of God; for they shall be comforted.
1:18 Blessed are they who keep their baptism pure; for they shall find peace with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
1:19 Blessed are they who pursue the wisdom (or doctrine) of Jesus Christ; for they shall be called the sons of the Most High.
1:20 Blessed are they who observe the instructions of Jesus Christ; for they shall dwell in eternal light.
1:21 Blessed are they, who for the love of Christ abandon the glories of the world; for they shall judge angels, and be placed at the right hand of Christ, and shall not suffer the bitterness of the last judgment.
1:22 Blessed are the bodies and souls of virgins; for they are acceptable to God, and shall not lose the reward of their virginity; for the word of their (heavenly) Father shall prove effectual to their salvation in the day of his Son, and they shall enjoy rest for evermore.
2:1 While Paul was preaching this sermon in the church which was in the house of Onesiphorus, a certain virgin, named Thecla (whose mother’s name was Theoclia, and who was betrothed to a man named Thamyris) sat at a certain window in her house.
2:2 From whence, by the advantage of a window in the house where Paul was, she both night and day heard Paul’s sermons concerning God, concerning charity, concerning faith in Christ, and concerning prayer;
2:3 Nor would she depart from the window, till with exceeding joy she was subdued to the doctrines of faith.
2:4 At length, when she saw many women and virgins going in to Paul, she earnestly desired that she might be thought worthy to appear in his presence, and hear the word of Christ; for she had not yet seen Paul’s person, but only heard his sermons, and that alone.
2:5 But when she would not be prevailed upon to depart from the window, her mother sent to Thamyris, who came with the greatest pleasure, as hoping now to marry her. Accordingly he said to Theoclia, Where is my Thecla?
2:6 Theoclia replied, Thamyris, I have something very strange to tell you; for Thecla, for the space of three days, will not move from the window not so much as to eat or drink, but is so intent on hearing the artful and delusive discourses of a certain foreigner, that I perfectly admire, Thamyris, that a young woman of her known modesty, will suffer herself to be so prevailed upon.
2:7 For that man has disturbed the whole city of Iconium, and even your Thecla, among others. All the women and young men flock to him to receive his doctrine; who, besides all the rest, tells them that there is but one God, who alone is to be worshipped, and that we ought to live in chastity.
2:8 Notwithstanding this, my daughter Thecla, like a spider’s web fastened to the window, is captivated by the discourses of Paul, and attends upon them with prodigious eagerness, and vast delight; and thus, by attending on what he says, the young woman is seduced. Now then do you go, and speak to her, for she is betrothed to you.
2:9 Accordingly Thamyris went, and having saluted her, and taking care not to surprise her, he said, Thecla, my spouse, why sittest thou in this melancholy posture? What strange impressions are made upon thee? Turn to Thamyris, and blush.
2:10 Her mother also spake to her after the same manner, and said, Child, why dost thou sit so melancholy, and, like one astonished, makest no reply?
2:11 Then they wept exceedingly: Thamyris, that he had lost his spouse; Theoclia, that she had lost her daughter; and the maids, that they had lost their mistress; and there was an universal mourning in the family.
2:12 But all these things made no impression upon Thecla, so as to incline her so much as to turn to them, and take notice of them; for she still regarded the discourses of Paul.
2:13 Then Thamyris ran forth into the street to observe who they were who went into Paul, and came out from him; and he saw two men engaged in a very warm dispute, and said to them;
2:14 Sirs, what business have you here? and who is that man within, belonging to you, who deludes the minds of men, both young men and virgins, persuading them, that they ought not to marry, but continue as they are?
2:15 I promise to give you a considerable sum, if you will give me a just account of him; for I am the chief person of this city.
2:16 Demas and Hermogenes replied, We cannot so exactly tell who he is; but this we know, that he deprives young men of their (intended) wives, and virgins of their (intended) husbands, by teaching, There can be no future resurrection, unless ye continue in chastity, and do not defile your flesh.
3:1 Then said Thamyris, Come along with me to my house, and refresh yourselves. So they went to a very splendid entertainment, where there was wine in abundance, and very rich provision.
3:2 They were brought to a table richly spread, and made to drink plentifully by Thamyris, on account of the love he had for Thecla and his desire to marry her.
3:3 Then Thamyris said, I desire ye would inform me what the doctrines of this Paul are, that I may understand them; for I am under no small concern about Thecla, seeing she so delights in that stranger’s discourses, that I am in danger of losing my intended wife.
3:4 Then Demas and Hermogenes answered both together, and said, Let him be brought before the governor Castillius, as one who endeavors to persuade the people into the new religion of the Christians, and he, according to the order of Caesar, will put him to death, by which means you will obtain your wife;
3:5 While we at the same time will teach her, that the resurrection which he speaks of is already come, and consists in our having children; and that we then arose again, when we came to the knowledge of God.
3:6 Thamyris having this account from them, was filled with hot resentment:
3:7 And rising early in the morning he went to the house of Onesiphorus, attended by the magistrates, the jailer, and a great multitude of people with staves, and said to Paul;
3:8 Thou hast perverted the city of Iconium, and among the rest, Thecla, who is betrothed to me, so that now she will not marry me. Thou shalt therefore go with us to the governor Castillius.
3:9 And all the multitude cried out, Away with this imposter (magician), for he has perverted the minds of our wives, and all the people hearken to him.
4:1 Then Thamyris standing before the governor’s judgment-seat, spake with a loud voice in the following manner.
4:2 O governor, I know not whence this man cometh; but he is one who teaches that matrimony is unlawful. Command him therefore to declare before you for what reason he publishes such doctrines.
4:3 While he was saying thus, Demas and Hermogenes (whispered to Thamyris, and) said; Say that he is a Christian, and he will presently be put to death.
4:4 But the governor was more deliberate, and calling to Paul, he said, Who art thou? What dost thou teach? They seem to lay gross crimes to thy charge.
4:5 Paul then spake with a loud voice, saying, As I am now called to give an account, O governor, of my doctrines, I desire your audience.
4:6 That God, who is a God of vengeance, and who stands in need of nothing but the salvation of his creatures, has sent me to reclaim them from their wickedness and corruptions, from all (sinful) pleasures, and from death; and to persuade them to sin no more.
4:7 On this account, God sent his Son Jesus Christ, whom I preach, and in whom I instruct men to place their hopes as that person who only had such compassion on the deluded world, that it might not, O governor, be condemned, but have faith, the fear of God, the knowledge of religion, and the love of truth.
4:8 So that if I only teach those things which I have received by revelation from God, where is my crime?
4:9 When the governor heard this, he ordered Paul to be bound, and to be put in prison, till he should be more at leisure to hear him more fully.
4:10 But in the night, THecla taking off her earrings, gave them to the turnkey of the prison, who then opened the doors to her, and let her in;
4:11 And when she made a present of a silver looking-glass to the jailer, was allowed to go into the room where Paul was; then she sat down at his feet, and heard from him the great things of God.
4:12 And as she perceived Paul not to be afraid of suffering, but that by divine assistance he behaved himself with courage, her faith so far increased that she kissed his chains.
5:1 At length Thecla was missed, and sought for by the family and by Thamyris in every street, as though she had been lost, but one of the porter’s fellow-servants told them, that she had gone out in the night-time.
5:2 Then they examined the porter, and he told them, that she was gone to the prison to the strange man.
5:3 They went therefore according to his direction, and there found her; and when they came out, they got a mob together, and went and told the governor all that happened.
5:4 Upon which he ordered Paul to be brought before his judgment seat.
5:5 Thecla in the meantime lay wallowing on the ground in the prison, in that same place where Paul had sat to teach her; upon which the governor also ordered her to be brought before his judgment-seat; which summons she received with joy, and went.
5:6 When Paul was brought thither, the mob with more vehemence cried out, He is a magician, let him die.
5:7 Nevertheless the governor attended with pleasure upon Paul’s discourses of the holy works of Christ; and, after a council called, he summoned Thecla, and said to her, Why do you not, according to the law of the Iconians, marry Thamyris?
5:8 She stood still, with her eyes fixed upon Paul; and finding she made no reply, Theoclia, her mother, cried out, saying, Let the unjust creature be burnt; let her be burnt in the midst of the theatre, for refusing Thamyris, that all women may learn from her to avoid such practices.
5:9 Then the governor was exceedingly concerned, and ordered Paul to be whipt out of the city, and Thecla to be burnt.
5:10 So the governor arose, and went immediately into the theatre; and all the people went forth to see the dismal sight.
5:11 But Thecla, just as a lamb in the wilderness looks every way to see his shepherd, looked around for Paul;
5:12 And as she was looking upon the multitude, she saw the Lord Jesus in the likeness of Paul, and said to herself, Paul is come to see me in my distressed circumstances. And she fixed her eyes upon him; but he instantly ascended up to heaven, while she looked on him.
5:13 The young men and women brought wood and straw for the burning of Thecla; who, being brought naked to the stake, extorted tears from the governor, with surprise beholding the greatness of her beauty.
5:14 And when they had placed the wood in order, the people commanded her to go upon it; which she did, first making the sign of the cross.
5:15 Then the people set fire to the pile; though the flame was exceeding large, it did not touch her, for God took compassion on her, and caused a great eruption from the earth beneath, and a cloud from above to pour down great quantities of rain and hail;
5:16 Insomuch that by the rupture of the earth, very many were in great danger, and some were killed, the fire was extinguished, and Thecla was preserved.
6:1 In the meantime Paul, together with Onesiphorus, his wife and children, was keeping a fast in a certain cave, which was in the road from Iconium to Daphne.
6:2 And when they had fasted for several days, the children said to Paul, Father, we are hungry, and have not wherewithal to buy bread; for Onesiphorus had left all his substance to follow Paul with his family.
6:3 Then Paul, taking off his coat, said to the boy, Go, child, and buy bread, and bring it hither.
6:4 But while the boy was buying the bread, he saw his neighbor Thecla and was surprised, and said to her, Thecla, where are you going?
6:5 She replied, I am in pursuit of Paul, having been delivered from the flames.
6:6 The boy then said, I will bring you to him, for he is under great concern on your account, and has been in prayer and fasting these six days.
6:7 When Thecla came to the cave, she found Paul upon his knees praying and saying, O holy Father, O Lord Jesus Christ, grant that the fire may not touch Thecla; but be her helper, for she is thy servant.
6:8 Thecla then standing behind him, cried out in the following words: O sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the Father of thy beloved and holy Son, I praise thee that thou hast preserved me from the fire, to see Paul again.
6:9 Paul then arose, and when he saw her, said, O God, who searches the heart, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, I praise thee that thou has answered my prayer.
6:10 And there prevailed among them in the cave an entire affection to each other; Paul, Onesiphorus and all that were with them being filled with joy.
6:11 They had five loaves, some herbs and water, and they solaced each other in reflections upon the holy works of Christ.
6:12 Then said Thecla to Paul, If you be pleased with it, I will follow you withersoever you go.
6:13 He replied to her, Persons are now much given to fornication, and you being handsome, I am afraid lest you should meet with greater temptation than the former, and should not withstand, but be overcome by it.
6:14 Thecla replied, Grant me only the seal of Christ, and no temptation shall affect me.
6:15 Paul answered, Thecla, wait with patience, and you shall receive the gift of Christ.
7:1 Then Paul sent back Onesiphorus and his family to their own home, and taking Thecla along with him, went for Antioch;
7:2 And as soon as they came into the city, a certain Syrian, named Alexander, a magistrate, in the city, who had done many considerable services for the city during his magistracy, saw Thecla and fell in love with her, and endeavored by many rich presents to engage Paul in his interest.
7:3 But Paul told him, I know not the woman of whom you speak, nor does she belong to me.
7:4 But he being a person of great power in Antioch, seized her in the street and kissed her; which Thecla would not bear, but looking about for Paul, cried out in a distressed loud tone, Force me not, who am a stranger; force me not, who am a servant of God; I am one of the principal persons of Iconium, and was obliged to leave that city because I would not be married to Thamyris.
7:5 Then she laid hold on Alexander, tore his coat, and took his crown off his head, and made him appear ridiculous before all the people.
7:6 But Alexander, partly as he loved her, and partly being ashamed of what had been done, led her to the governor, and upon her confession of what she had done, he condemned her to be thrown among the beasts.
8:1 Which when the people saw, they said: The judgments passed in this city are unjust. But Thecla desired the favor of the governor, that her chastity might not be attacked, but preserved till she should be cast to the beasts.
8:2 The governor then inquired, Who would entertain her; upon whom a certain very rich widow, named Trifina, whose daughter was lately dead, desired that she might have the keeping of her; and she began to treat her in her house as her own daughter.
8:3 At length a day came, when the beasts were to be brought forth to be seen; and Thecla was brought to the amphitheater, and put into a den in which was an exceeding fierce she-lion, in the presence of a multitude of spectators.
8:4 Trifina, without any surprise, accompanied Thecla, and the she-lion licked the feet of Thecla. The title written which denotes her crime was: Sacrilege. Then the woman cried out, O God, the judgments of this city are unrighteous.
8:5 After the beasts had been shewn, Trifina took Thecla home with her, and they went to bed; and behold, the daughter of Trifina, who was dead, appeared to her mother, and said; Mother, let the young woman, Thecla, be reputed by you as your daughter in my stead; and desire her that she should pray for me, that I may be translated to a state of happiness.
8:6 Upon which Trifina, with a mournful air, said, My daughter Falconilla has appeared to me, and ordered me to receive you in her room; wherefore I desire, Thecla, that you would pray for my daughter, that she may be translated into a state of happiness, and to life eternal.
8:7 When Thecla heard this, she immediately prayed to the Lord, and said: O Lord God of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ, thou Son of the Most High, grant that her daughter Falconilla may live forever. Trifina hearing this groaned again, and said: O unrighteous judgments! O unreasonable wickedness! that such a creature should (again) be cast to the beasts!
8:8 On the morrow, at break of day, Alexander came to Trifina’s house, and said: The governor and the people are waiting; bring the criminal forth.
8:9 But Trifina ran in so violently upon him, that he was affrighted, and ran away. Trifina was one of the royal family; and she thus expressed her sorrow, and said; Alas! I have trouble in my house on two accounts, and there is no one who will relieve me, either under the loss of my daughter, or my being able to save Thecla. But now, O Lord God, be thou the helper of Thecla thy servant.
8:10 While she was thus engaged, the governor sent one of his own officers to bring Thecla. Trifina took her by the hand, and, going with her, said: I went with Falconilla to her grave, and now must go with Thecla to the beasts.
8:11 When Thecla heard this, she weeping prayed, and said: O Lord God, whom I have made my confidence and refuge, reward Trifina for her compassion to me, and preserving my chastity.
8:12 Upon this there was a great noise in the amphitheater; the beasts roared, and the people cried out, Bring in the criminal.
8:13 But the woman cried out, and said: Let the whole city suffer for such crimes; and order all of us, O governor, to the same punishment. O unjust judgment! O cruel sight!
8:14 Others said, Let the whole city be destroyed for this vile action. Kill us all, O governor. O cruel sight! O unrighteous judgment.
9:1 Then Thecla was taken out of the hand of Trifina, stripped naked, had a girdle put on, and thrown into the place appointed for fighting with the beasts: and the lions and the bears were let loose upon her.
9:2 But a she-lion, which was of all the most fierce, ran to Thecla, and fell down at her feet. Upon which the multitude of women shouted aloud.
9:3 Then a she-bear ran fiercely towards her; but the she-lion met the bear, and tore it to pieces.
9:4 Again, a he-lion, who had been wont to devour men, and which belonged to Alexander, ran towards her; but the she-lion encountered the he-lion, and they killed each other.
9:5 Then the women were under a greater concern, because the she-lion, which had helped Thecla, was dead.
9:6 Afterwards they brought out many other wild beasts; but Thecla stood with her hands stretched towards heaven, and prayed; and when she had done praying, she turned about, and saw a pit of water, and said, Now it is a proper time for me to be baptized.
9:7 Accordingly she threw herself into the water, and said, In thy name, O my Lord Jesus Christ, I am this last day baptized. The women and the people seeing this, cried out, and said, Do not throw yourself into the water. And the governor himself cried out, to think that the fish (sea-calves) were like to devour so much beauty.
9:8 Notwithstanding all this, Thecla threw herself into the water, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9:9 But the fish (sea-calves,) when they saw the lighting and fire, were killed, and swam dead upon the surface of the water, and a cloud of fire surrounded Thecla, so that as the beasts could not come near her, so the people could not see her nakedness.
9:10 Yet they turned other wild beasts upon her; upon which they made a very mournful outcry; and some of them scattered spikenard, others cassia, other amomus [a sort of spikenard, or the herb of Jerusalem, or ladies-rose], others ointment; so that the quantity of ointment was large, in proportion to the number of people; and upon this all the beasts lay as though they had been fast asleep, and did not touch Thecla.
9:11 Whereupon Alexander said to the Governor, I have some very terrible bulls; let us bind her to them. To which the governor, with concern, replied, You may do what you think fit.
9:12 Then they put a cord round Thecla’s waist, which bound also her feet, and with it tied her to the bulls, to whose privy-parts they applied red-hot irons, that so they being the more tormented, might more violently drag Thecla about, till they had killed her.
9:13 The bulls accordingly tore about, making a most hideous noise, but the flame which was about Thecla, burnt off the cords which were fastened to the members of the bulls, and she stood in the middle of the stage, as unconcerned as if she had not been bound.
9:14 But in the meantime Trifina, who sat upon one of the benches, fainted away and died; upon which the whole city was under a very great concern.
9:15 And Alexander himself was afraid, and desired the governor, saying: I entreat you, take compassion on me and the city, and release this woman, who has fought with the beasts; lest, both you and I, and the whole city be destroyed:
9:16 For if Caesar should have any account of what has passed now, he will certainly immediately destroy the city, because Trifina, a person of royal extract, and a relation of his, is dead upon her seat.
9:17 Upon this the governor called Thecla from among the beasts to him, and said to her, Who art thou? And what are thy circumstances, that not one of the beasts will touch thee?
9:18 Thecla replied to him; I am a servant of the living God; and as to my state, I am a believer on Jesus Christ his Son, in whom God is well pleased; and for that reason none of the beasts could touch me.
9:19 He alone is the way to eternal salvation, and the foundation of eternal life. He is a refuge to those who are in distress; a support to the afflicted, hope and defense to those who are hopeless; and, in a word, all those who do not believe on him, shall not live, but suffer eternal death.
9:20 When the governor heard these things, he ordered her clothes to be brought, and said to her put on your clothes.
9:21 Thecla replied: May that God who clothed me when I was naked among the beasts, in the day of judgment clothe your soul with the robe of salvation. Then she took her clothes, and put them on; and the governor immediately published an order in these words; I release to you Thecla the servant of God.
9:22 Upon which the women cried out together with a loud voice and with one accord gave praise unto God, and said: There is but one God, who is the God of Thecla; the one God who hath delivered Thecla.
9:23 So loud were their voices that the whole city seemed to be shaken; and Trifina herself heard the glad tidings, and arose again, and ran with the multitude to meet Thecla; and embracing her, said: Now I believe there shall be a resurrection of the dead; now I am persuaded that my daughter is alive. Come therefore home with me, my daughter Thecla, and I will make over all that I have to you.
9:24 So Thecla went with Trifina, and was entertained there a few days, teaching her the word of the Lord, whereby many young women were converted; and there was great joy in the family of Trifina.
9:25 But Thecla longed to see Paul, and inquired and sent everywhere to find him; and when at length she was informed that he was at Myra, in Lycia, she took with her many young men and women; and putting on a girdle, and dressing herself in the habit of a man, she went to him in Myra in Lycia, and there found Paul preaching the word of God; and she stood by him among the throng.
10:1 But it was no small surprise to Paul when he saw her and the people with her; for he imagined some fresh trial was coming upon them;
10:2 Which when Thecla perceived, she said to him: I have been baptized, O Paul; for he who assists you in preaching has assisted me to baptize.
10:3 Then Paul took her, and led her to the house of Hermes; and Thecla related to Paul all that had befallen her in Antioch, insomuch that Paul exceedingly wondered, and all who heard were confirmed in the faith, and prayed for Trifina’s happiness.
10:4 Then Thecla arose, and said to Paul, I am going to Iconium. Paul replied to her: Go, and teach the word of the Lord.
10:5 But Trifina had sent large sums of money to Paul, and also clothing by the hands of Thecla, for the relief of the poor.
10:6 So Thecla went to Iconium. And when she came to the house of Onesiphorus, she fell down upon the floor where Paul had sat and preached, and mixing her tears with her prayers, she praised and glorified God in the following words:
10:7 O Lord the God of this house, in which I was first enlightened by thee; O Jesus, son of the living God, who wast my helper before the governor, my helper in the fire, and my helper among the beasts; thou alone art God forever and ever. Amen.
10:8 Thecla now (on her return) found Thamyris dead, but her mother living. So calling her mother, she said to her: Theoclia, my mother, is it possible for you to be brought to a belief, that there is but one Lord God, who dwells in the heavens? If you desire great riches, God will give them to you by me; if you want your daughter again, here I am.
10:9 These and many other things she represented to her mother, [endeavoring] to persuade her [to her opinion]. But her mother Theoclia gave no credit to the things which were said by the martyr Thecla.
10:10 So that Thecla perceiving she discoursed to no purpose, signing her whole body with the sign [of the cross], left the house and went to Daphine; and when she came there, she went to the cave, where she had found Paul with Onesiphorus, and fell down on the ground; and wept before God.
10:11 When she departed thence, she went to Seleucia, and enlightened many in the knowledge of Christ.
10:12 And a bright cloud conducted her in her journey.
10:13 And after she had arrived at Seleucia she went to a place out of the city, about the distance of a furlong, being afraid of the inhabitants, because they were worshippers of idols.
10:14 And she was led [by the cloud] into a mountain called Calamon, or Rodeon. There she abode many years, and underwent a great many grievous temptations of the devil, which she bore in a becoming manner, by the assistance which she had from Christ.
10:15 At length, certain gentlewomen hearing of the virgin Thecla, went to her, and were instructed by her in the oracles of God, and many of them abandoned this world, and led a monastic life with her.
10:16 Hereby a good report was spread everywhere of Thecla, and she wrought several [miraculous] cures, so that all the city and adjacent countries brought their sick to that mountain, and before they came as far as the door of the cave, they were instantly cured of whatsoever distemper they had.
10:17 The unclean spirits were cast out, making a noise; all received their sick made whole, and glorified God, who had bestowed such power on the virgin Thecla;
10:18 Insomuch that the physicians of Seleucia were now of no more account, and lost all the profit of their trade, because no one regarded them; upon which they were filled with envy, and began to contrive what methods to take with this servant of Christ.
11:1 The devil then suggested bad advice to their minds; and being on a certain day met together to consult, they reasoned among each other thus: The virgin is a priestess of the great goddess Diana, and whatsoever she requests from her, is granted, because she is a virgin, and so is beloved by all the gods.
11:2 Now then let us procure some rakish fellows, and after we have made them sufficiently drunk, and given them a good sum of money, let us order them to go and debauch this virgin, promising them, if they do it, a larger reward.
11:3 (For they thus concluded among themselves, that if they be able to debauch her, the gods will no more regard her, nor Diana cure the sick for her.)
11:4 They proceeded according to this resolution, and the fellows went to the mountain, and as fierce as lions to the cave, knocking at the door.
11:5 The holy martyr Thecla, relying upon the God in whom she believed, opened the door, although she was before apprised of their design, and said to them, Young men, what is your business?
11:6 They replied, Is there anyone within, whose name is Thecla? She answered What would you have with her? They said, We have a mind to lie with her.
11:7 The blessed Thecla answered: Though I am a mean old woman, I am the servant of my Lord Jesus Christ; and though you have a vile design against me, ye shall not be able to accomplish it. They replied: It is impossible but we must be able to do with you what we have a mind.
11:8 And while they were saying this, they laid hold on her by main force, and would have ravished her. Then she with the (greatest) mildness said to them: Young men have patience, and see the glory of the Lord.
11:9 And while they held her, she looked up to heaven and said; O God most reverend to whom none can be likened; who makest thyself glorious over thine enemies; who didst deliver me from the fire, and didst not give me up to Thamyris, didst not give me up to Alexander; who deliveredst me from the wild beasts; who didst preserve me in the deep waters; who hast everywhere been my helper, and hast glorified thy name in me;
11:10 Now also deliver me from the hands of these wicked and unreasonable men, nor suffer them to debauch my chastity which I have hitherto preserved for thy honor; for I love thee and long for thee, and worship thee, O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.
11:11 Then came a voice from heaven, saying, Fear not, Thecla, my faithful servant, for I am with thee. Look and see the place which is opened for thee: there thy eternal abode shall be; there thou shalt receive the beatific vision.
11:12 The blessed Thecla observing, saw the rock opened to as large a degree as that a man might enter in; she did as she was commanded, bravely fled from the vile crew, and went into the rock, which instantly so closed, that there was not any crack visible where it had opened.
11:13 The men stood perfectly astonished at so prodigious a miracle, and had no power to detain the servant of God; but only, catching hold of her veil, or hood, they tore off a piece of it;
11:14 And even that was by the permission of God, for the confirmation of their faith who should come to see this venerable place, and to convey blessings to those in succeeding ages, who should believe on our Lord Jesus Christ from a pure heart.
11:15 Thus suffered that first martyr and apostle of God, and virgin, Thecla; who came from Iconium at eighteen years of age; afterwards, partly in journeys and travels, and partly in a monastic life in the cave, she lived seventy-two years; so that she was ninety years old when the Lord translated her.
11:16 Thus ends her life.
11:17 The day which is kept sacred to her memory is the twenty-fourth of September, to the glory of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, now and for evermore. Amen.