St. Theodora of Vasta.
the village of Vasta in the Peloponnese, there is a
miraculous site that defies human logic. The lush green
mountain gully with a river flowing through it is
visited by many pilgrims, as well as by those curious
to see how seventeen trees can grow from the thin roof
of a small chapel. It all goes back to the life of a
brave young girl who lived in the Byzantine Empire.
During the tenth century, when St. Theodora was born,
there was a law in the Byzantine Empire that required
every family to send at least one male to fight as a
soldier, or pay a tax. Because St. Theodora’s family
had no male children and was very poor, her father would
have had to serve. St. Theodora loved her father, did not
want her family to be deprived of his protection, and so
she conceived the idea of offering herself instead.
Dressed as a boy, she enlisted in the army as
Not only was Theodore successful in keeping her secret in
the ranks, she became a courageous soldier, respected for
her honor and valor. However, she also drew the admiration
of a young lady who fell in love with
“Theodore” and told everyone that she was
pregnant by him. Soldiers in those days were held to high
standards, and Theodore was commanded either to marry the
girl, or be condemned to death. Theodora did nothing to
show her innocence, although this would obviously have
been a very easy thing to do; she did not wish to reveal
her secret, and bring a possible penalty upon her father.
St. Theodora had deep faith in God, and before her
execution she prayed, “Let my body become a church,
my blood a river, and my hair, the forest.”
histories show that there was an ancient monastery on
the current site of the church over St.
Theodora’s grave. The three-by-two meters
church dates back to sometime between the eleventh
and twelfth centuries. The forested site is lush and
green, with a clear river flowing under the church.
Seventeen large trees—up to thirty meters
tall—grow from the roof, but there are no roots
to be seen, no cracks in the wall, and no damage to
the roof. It may also be noted that when fires raged
through the Peloponnese in 2007, scorching 370,000
acres of land and destroying ancient forests, Vasta
remained untouched. The entire site with its
miraculous church and river has the feeling of a
living, breathing, incorrupt relic.
Inside the church in Vasta.
Scientific research was conducted to
probe the origin of the uncanny growth, but no
explanation could be found other than the power of God,
which can overthrow the order of nature. The area is
subject to strong winds, and as one geologist said, the
weight and leverage of only one tree would have
ordinarily been enough to bring the church down long
ago, but there are seventeen of them!
May we all remember how God honored St. Theodora when she
forsook the easy justification of her own honor in the
eyes of men. St. Theodora pray to God for us!
24 сентября 2013 г.