By St. Alphonsus Liguori
St. Theodora, a native of Alexandria, was descended from noble and opulent Christian parents; she was born towards the close of the third century, and at the early age of sixteen years was distinguished for her beauty. Desirous of having Jesus Christ alone for her spouse, she made a vow of perpetual virginity, and her many admirable virtues made her a model of perfection to the other Christian virgins of her acquaintance. No sooner were the edicts of Diocletian against the Christians published in Egypt, than our saint was inflamed with the holy desire of sacrificing her life for Jesus Christ, and by prayer commenced to prepare herself for the great struggle, and to make frequent offerings of herself to God.
She was amongst the first of those who were arrested, and being presented to the judge Proculus, who was much struck with her beauty, was asked whether she was a slave or a free woman; the saint replied that she was a Christian, having been freed by Christ from the slavery of the devil, and that she was also born of what the world called free parents. The tyrant, having discovered that she was of noble birth, inquired why she had not married. St. Theodora replied that she had abstained from marriage that she might live alone to Jesus Christ her Saviour. “But dost thou not know,” continued the judge, “that it hath been commanded by the emperor that each one shall sacrifice to the gods, or else be condemned to the most infamous punishments?” “And thou also knowest very well,” rejoined the saint, “that God is careful of those who serve him, and defends them from contamination.” Proculus continued to persuade her to sacrifice to the gods, threatening that otherwise the imperial edicts should be enforced. The saint answered as before, adding that she was consecrated to Jesus Christ, and would not abandon him though she were torn to pieces. “I am no longer my own,” said she, “but His: He will defend me.”