Thekla: The First Woman Martyr of the Lord

But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  (Galatians 6:14) 

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20) 

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Today in the Orthodox Church we honor the memory of the  Protomartyr and Equal-of-the-Apostles Thekla.  Her Troparion honors her as the first woman martyred because of her faithfulness to Christ.   

You were enlightened by the words of Paul, O Bride of God, Thekla, and your faith was confirmed by Peter, O Chosen One of God. You became the first sufferer and martyr among women,   by entering into the flames as into a place of gladness. For when you accepted the Cross of Christ, the demonic powers were frightened away. O all-praised One, intercede before Christ God that our souls may be saved. 

St Gregory of Nyssa commenting on the biblical book, the Song of Songs, identifies Thekla with the purity of myrrh. 

48027192998_3df3f92e2a_n… those who are pure and who breathe out the perfume of virtue, from whom there is unendingly distilled the drop of myrrh that fills the mind of its recipients—that is to say, disdain for the material life, which appears when everything that people work for in this life becomes inoperative and dead on account of their desire for transcendent goods.  

Now Paul pours just such myrrh as this, mingled with the pure lily of temperance, into the ears of the holy virgin named Thecla. With her soul she received within herself the drops that poured out from the lily, and she treated her outward self to death by quenching her every fleshly thought and desire.  Once she had received the good teaching, her youthful folly was dead, as was her outward show of beauty, and dead were all her corporeal senses.  All that was alive in her was the word, through which the whole cosmos died to her even as she, the virgin, died to the cosmos.”    (HOMILIES ON THE SONG OF SONGS, p 429) 

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Another hymn in praise of the Protomartyr Thekla: 

O glorious Thekla, virginity was your splendor, the crown of martyrdom your adornment and the faith you trust!  You turned a burning fire into refreshing dew,  and with your prayers appeased pagan fury, O First Woman Martyr!