Saint Theodora the holy empress was from Paphlagonia, and she was the daughter of Marinus, the commander of a military regiment. She then became the wife of the Roman Emperor Theophilos the iconoclast (829-842), but did not share the heresy of her husband. During this time, Saint Theodora adorned the royal diadem with her virtue and piety; and privately venerated icons, despite his displeasure. After Theophilos died, she governed the empire wisely for fifteen years, since their son Michael was too young.
Saint Theodora convened a synod, at which the iconoclasts were anathematized, and the veneration of the icons were reinstated. Saint Theodore established the annual celebration of this event, the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on the first Sunday of the Great Fast. Saint Theodora did much for the Holy Orthodox Church, and fostered a firm devotion in her son, the future emperor, Michael.
When Michael became of age, in 857 Saint Theodora retired, and became a nun in the monastery of Saint Euphrosyne for eight years. She lived a life of ascetic struggle, and read Orthodox books that nourished her soul. Saint Theodora copied the four Gospels in her own hand, and they still exist to this day.
Saint Theodora reposed in peace in 867.
Saint Theodora’s incorrupt and miracle-working relics were given to the people of Kerkyra (Corfu) by the Turks in 1456. They remain in the church of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Cave, in the capital city of the island, and it is a place of pious pilgrimage by the Orthodox people to this very day.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
As a right worthy namesake of gifts bestowed of God, and a divinely-wrought image of holy wisdom and faith, thou didst make the Church to shine with godly piety; for thou didst demonstrate to all that the Saints in every age have shown honour to the icons, O Theodora, thou righteous and fair adornment of the Orthodox.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
We sing thy praises as the gem and fairness of the Church, and as a diadem and pattern of Christian queens, O all-lauded and divinely-crowned Theodora; for in bringing back the icons to their rightful place, thou didst cast usurping heresy out of the Church. Hence, we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Sovereign most ven’rable.