The Holy Martyr Theodotus and the holy martyrs seven virgins – Tekusa, Faina, Claudia, Matrona, Julia, Alexandra and Euphrasia – lived in the 2nd half of the III century in the city of Ancyra, Galatian region, and died martyred for Christ at the beginning of the IV century. Saint Theodotus was a "tavern keeper", had his own hotel, was married. Even then he reached a high spiritual perfection: he observed purity and chastity, cultivated abstinence in himself, conquered the flesh to the spirit, practicing fasting and prayer. Through his conversations, he led Jews and Gentiles to the Christian faith, and sinners to repentance and correction. Saint Theodotus received the gift of healing from the Lord and healed the sick by laying hands on them.
During the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305) against Christians, the ruler Theotekn, known for his cruelty, was appointed to the city of Ancyra. Many Christians fled the city, leaving their homes and possessions. Theoteknus informed all Christians that they were obliged to sacrifice to idols, and if they refused, they would be put to torment and death. Pagans brought Christians to torment, and their property was plundered.
There was a famine in the country. During these harsh days, Saint Theodotus gave shelter to Christians left homeless in his hotel, fed them, hid those who were persecuted, and from his reserves gave to the ruined churches everything necessary for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. He fearlessly penetrated prisons, helping innocent convicts, persuading them to be faithful to Christ the Savior to the end. Theodotus was not afraid to bury the remains of the holy martyrs, secretly carrying them away or buying them for money from the soldiers. When the Christian churches in Ancyra were ruined and closed, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in his hotel. Realizing that he, too, was going to be a martyr's feat, Saint Theodotus, in conversation with the priest Fronton, predicted that he would soon be delivered the martyr's relics to the place chosen by both of them. In confirmation of these words, Saint Theodotus gave his ring to the priest.
At that time, seven holy virgins died for Christ, of whom the eldest, Saint Tekusa, was the aunt of Saint Theodotus. The Holy virgins – Tecusa, Faina, Claudia, Matrona, Julia, Alexandra and Euphrasia devoted themselves to God from a young age, lived in constant prayers, fasting, abstinence, good deeds and all reached old age. Brought to trial as Christians, the holy virgins courageously confessed their faith in Christ before Theoteknos and were subjected to torture, but remained unshaken. Then the ruler betrayed them to shameless youths for desecration. The holy virgins prayed fervently, asking God for help. Saint Tekusa fell at the feet of the young men, taking off her head veil, showed them her gray head. The young men came to their senses, cried themselves and walked away. Then the ruler ordered the saints to take part in the celebration of the "washing of idols", as the pagan priestesses did, but the holy virgins again refused. For this they were sentenced to death. Each had a heavy stone tied around her neck, and all seven holy virgins were drowned in the lake. The next night, Saint Tekusa appeared in a dream to Saint Theodotus, asking him to get their bodies and bury them in a Christian way. Saint Theodotus, taking with him his friend Polychronius and other Christians, headed for the lake. It was dark, and a burning lamp pointed the way. Meanwhile, the holy Martyr Sosander appeared before the guards placed by the pagans on the shore of the lake. The terrified guards took to flight. The wind drove the water to the other side of the lake. Christians approached the bodies of the holy martyrs and took them to the church, where they were buried. Upon learning about the abduction of the bodies of the holy martyrs, the ruler became enraged and ordered to seize indiscriminately all Christians and put them to torment. Polychrony was also captured. Unable to withstand the tortures, he pointed to Saint Theodotus as the culprit of the abduction of the bodies. Saint Theodotus began to prepare for death for Christ; having offered up fervent prayers together with all Christians, he bequeathed to give his body to the priest Fronton, to whom he had previously given his ring. The saint appeared before the court. He was shown various instruments of torment and at the same time promised great honors and wealth if he renounced Christ. Saint Theodotus glorified the Lord Jesus Christ, confessed his faith in Him. In a rage, the pagans betrayed the saint to prolonged tortures, but the power of God supported the holy martyr. He survived and was taken to prison. The next morning, the ruler again ordered to torture the saint, but soon realized that it was impossible to shake his courage. Then he ordered the head of the martyr to be cut off. The execution took place, but the storm that arose prevented the soldiers from burning the body of the martyr. The soldiers, sitting in the tent, remained to guard the body. At this time, the priest Fronton was passing by a nearby road, leading a donkey with a load of wine from his vineyard. Near the place where the body of Saint Theodotus lay, the donkey suddenly fell. The soldiers helped to lift him up and told the Pediment that they were guarding the body of the executed Christian Theodotus. The priest realized that the Lord providentially brought him here. He placed the holy remains on a donkey and brought them to the place indicated by Saint Theodotus for his burial, and honorably buried them. Subsequently, he erected a church on this site. Saint Theodotus died for Christ on June 7, 303 or 304, and his memory is remembered on May 18, the day of the death of the holy virgins.
A description of the life and martyrdom of Saint Theodotus and the suffering of the holy virgins was compiled by a contemporary and associate of Saint Theodotus and an eyewitness to his death – Nile, who was in the city of Ancyra during the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian.