CANON TO THE HOLY PROTOMARTYR
by Monk John.
Ode 1. Tone
Let us sing to the Lord.
First Woman Martyrís far-famed struggles tongueís sound has not the strength to tell; for it is far too weak to raise a worthy hymn.
It has ceased, the scornful boasting of the tyrant; for in Christ women, like heroes, devoutly stood against him.
Resounded in her ears, all-blessed Paul, your ineffable preaching of the gospel; and so the virgin has been betrothed to Christ.
All-immaculate Mother of God, who bore beyond nature the eternal and divine Word incarnate, we hymn you.
Ode 3. You are the foundation.
So far beyond thought, all-honoured virgin, the love by which in Christ, united by the Spirit, you were bound to Paul.
The pleasurable enjoyment of earthly things had no strength to wound your mind, wounded by spiritual love.
Wholly you had abandoned the passions of the flesh, all-praised Champion, and so you were not softened by your motherís words.
By your intercessions, O All-pure, give us help by driving off the assaults of dread misfortunes.
Ode 4. I heard, Lord.
O all-wise Thekla, when you were betrothed to Thamyris, the bridesman Paul joined you as a spotless virgin to the heavenly Bridegroom.
Moved far from earthly love by Paulís words of true religion, Thamyrisís words, O Martyr, you mocked as lunacy.
Adamís race was blessed by being sprinkled with Godís blood; while Eve rejoices when she sees the serpent falling to women.
Now longing for purity, the Champion rejected all the pleasures of life: wealth, race and beauty, and a fair suitor.
As you are sinless, grant us pardon of our follies, O God, and give peace to the world at the intercessions of her who gave birth to you .
Rising at dawn we cry to you.
Martyr Thekla, all-blessed, you ran the arduous race of the athlete and were found worthy of the prize.
And now the cunning dragon has been despoiled: for through godlike sufferings the virgin was being taught obedience.
Right godly boldness overcame your modesty; for the fire of the Trinity had set your heart ablaze.
We hymn you as Virgin after childbirth, Mother of God; for you bore for the world God the Word in the flesh.
Ode 6. I pour out my entreaty.
The weakness of a girlís nature was made strong by the Saviourís power, for with longing for God she left off the ornaments of youth and boldly by night ran seeking the sweet-scented teachings of her Lover.
Yet by her own desire the far-famed first Champion Thekla marvellously exchanged the bridal chambers of marriage to dwell in the malefactorsí prison; for her longing for the Maker conquered the loves of creatures.
Spiritually the Martyr kissed the bonds of her inspired Teacher; in the prison, as in a God-filled meadow, watered by his words she grew and truly bore the fairest fruit for the Master.
All-holy Virgin Mother of God, do not cease to intercede for us, for you are the support of the faithful, and we are strengthened by your hope, and with longing we glorify you and the One who ineffably took flesh from you.
Ode 7. The Youths from Judea.
In longing as to a prisoner, All-blessed virgin, you were bound to Paul; with songs unchained in harmony you sang in faith devoutly with him: God of our Fathers, blessed are you.
Standing with Paul before unjust tribunals, fair virgin, with longing for the Master you cast away shame and in ecstasy cried out: God of our Fathers, blessed are you.
Giving your body to the furnace, O Martyr, through longing for God, by the power of the One you longed for you remained unburned as you sang: God of our Fathers, blessed are you.
Lo, a rain-bearing cloud, having quenched the flame with shower and hail, justly burns the senseless and saves the Martyr as she sings: God of our Fathers, blessed are you.
You appeared incarnate from a virgin womb for our salvation; therefore, knowing your Mother to be Mother of God, with thanksgiving we cry: God of our Fathers, blessed are you.
Ode 8. The King of heaven.
O Virgin Martyr, strange seemed your thought; for you dwelt in a tomb as if in Eden, as you sang the praise of Christ to the ages.
Refusing that the bright beauty of your virginity be darkened, you chose to die, and now you live to the ages.
Intimately linked with Christ, the life-giving and supernatural Bridegroom, you chose wild beasts, first Champion, as guardians of your virginity.
Flinging aside your garment of corruption, Christís well-equipped competitor reached a life without decay to the ages.
The One who came down from heaven and dwelt in a virgin womb, praise and highly exalt to all the ages.
Ode 9. Mother of God most High.
Is there any who would not marvel, Protomartyr, at your indomitable courage? For having tamed the passions, wild beasts of the mind, you did not quail before the impotent assaults of wild beasts, but remained in their midst unharmed.
Even the sheer untrodden rock was rent by Godís command for the god-bearing Martyr, sealed as Godís bride by the bath of rebirth; and like a bridal chamber for the fugitive it received her in its arms.
Doctor the bruises of my soul, First Champion; crown the world with peace, giving victories to our faithful Sovereign against hostile barbarians and peace to the Churches by your supplications.
Sovereign Lady, slay my sin that still lives, give life to the death of soul by the force of the true Life born from your womb through ineffable compassion for those who devoutly magnify you.
The source for this Canon by St John of Damascus, as for the other texts of the feast, is the Acts of Paul and Thekla. This is an ancient apocryphal text which probably dates from the middle of the second century. It was known to Tertullian and exists in numerous Greek manuscripts and in many versions, Latin, Coptic, Syriac and Armenian. The most recent English version is to be found in J.K. Elliot's The Apocryphal New Testament [Oxford 1993].
In order to preserve the acrostic of this Canon, I have used the Greek word martys, rather than the English martyr.
For the full text of the office of Saint Thekla, go to Anastasis Website, 24 September.