Feast of St Thecla the Protomartyr & Equal to the Apostles and St Silouan the Athonite
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 [. . .]
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. 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; nor would she depart from the window, till with exceeding joy she was subdued to the doctrines of faith. 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.
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?”
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. 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. 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.:
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.”
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?”
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. 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. [. . .]
Calling to Paul, the governor said, “Who art thou? What dost thou teach? They seem to lay gross crimes to thy charge.”
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. 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. 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. So that if I only teach those things which I have received by revelation from God, where is my crime?”
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.
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; 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. 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.
—Acts of Paul and Thecla