28 March 2012

Church-Cave of St. Thecla

St. Thecla is an early Christian saint and a disciple of St. Paul. Persecuted for her beliefs by the Romans, she sought shelter in a cave in Silifke. Above the cave where she hid, the Byzantines built a church dedicated to her called Ayatekla, that is now in ruins. The cave beneath remains and is a place of pilgrimage for Christians.

Entrance Fee 3 TL
Getting There -  About 3 hours from Incirlik. Go on your own or with ODR on our Silifke Trip.
Physical Difficulty - EASY

The following history of St. Thecla is from the website, The Ephphatha Coffee-Corner Ministry of Dr. Jeffrey & Angie Goh. 

“Thecla was a saint of the early Christian Church, and a follower of Saint Paul. She is not mentioned in the New Testament, but the earliest record of her comes from the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla, a document of the 2nd century.  Out of the living tradition of the early church to the present, the following records have captured our interest:

Thecla, raised in a wealthy pagan family in Iconium (Konya), was very well-educated in the pagan philosophy and poetry, and promised to Thamyris, a pagan prince, for marriage at the age of 18. She converted to Christianity through Paul’s preaching, renounced marriage and devoted her life as a virgin for Christ.

By two miracles, she was saved from certain death. First, Paul was ordered to be scourged and banished from the city of Iconium for his teaching, and Thecla was ordered burned to death. But a storm providentially extinguished the flames, and she escaped with Paul and went with him to Antioch in Pisidia. Second, in Pisidia she was thrown to the wild beasts and was again saved from death by a miracle. After this she went to Myra where the Apostle was, and finally to Seleucia where she lived and died a hermitess.

She was the first woman evangelist and labored in the work of Christian mission, having been encouraged by St. Paul to proclaim the Gospel.

On the walls of the Grotto of St Paul in Ephesus, there are paintings of Paul and Thecla portrayed side by side. These images have generated a great deal of interest. In his book In Search of Paul, John Dominic Crossan reports that both images are of the same height, meaning that they were of equal importance. Both have their right hands raised in the teaching gesture, meaning that both were of equal authority. But, the image of Paul is untouched, while Thecla’s image has been disfigured. The eyes are scratched out and the upraised right hand has been erased. To the original creators, Thecla and Paul were equally authoritative. To those who later vandalized the images, we easily see the narrow-minded spirit of intolerance in which  only the male could be apostolic and authoritative. Consequently, the female image has been blinded and silenced. Reflections on the New Testament, too, often bring up stories of Jesus empowering and upholding the apostolate of women in the midst of male discontent. Christians who have mothers and sisters, wives and daughters need to seriously face a question of fundamental human dignity and justice: How do they really treat women in their lives, at home, in church, in society? Are women less clean, less worthy, less equal than men?

In the Eastern Church the wide circulation of the Acts of Paul and Thecla led to a great veneration of Thecla. She was called “Apostle and protomartyr among women.” Not only was the veneration of her especially great in a number of Oriental cities, but her popularity  appeared very early also in Western Europe. Parishes are named after her in the West.
The Greek Church celebrates her feast on 24 September and gives her the title of “Protomartyr among women and equal to the Apostles.” In the Western Church, her feast day is 23 September – the First Virgin Martyr.”

No comments:

Post a Comment