Saints Dorothea and Theophilus Window Character Biographies


St Theophilus of Caesarea - executed c303 AD - by Burne-JonesDorothea

A rather androgynous face, Theophilous carries a book of the law while looking somewhat out of sorts by his confrontation.

St. Theophilus the Lawyer, from the 4th century, was a lawyer trying cases before the Roman Courts in Caesarea, a coastal town on the modern day Israeli coast.  Caesarea was the seat of the Roman province of Judea and was a prominent town through the 5th century. Whilst at court Theophilus was part of the court's examination of St. Dorothy who was persecuted for not worshiping the Roman gods.

Upon hearing her sentence was to be execution, St. Dorothy told the court, "I thank thee, for this day shall I be with my spouse in paradise."  Ridiculing the young woman Theophilus said to her, "Going to paradise, Dorothy? Well, send me some of its fruits and flowers; good bye!"  Dorothy replied, "Gladly, Theophilus, will I do what you request."

St. Dorothy was lead out of the court and to her execution, beheading by sword. Upon reaching the landing where she was to be executed, St. Dorothy knelt in prayer whereupon a child appeared, maybe four years in age.  The child had a cloth in his hand with three different fruits and three magnificent roses. St. Dorothy instructed the child to take these fruits and roses to Theophilus and say to him "Here are the fruits and flowers from paradise which you asked for." St. Dorothy then laid her head down, and was martyred.

Meanwhile Theophilus was joking with his colleagues and telling them of this woman Dorothy, his story was met with hearty laughter and applause and his cutting wit. During the commotion of the laughter a child walked among them and approached Theophilus opening up his cloth the child said, "These are the fruits and flowers you asked the holy Dorothy to send you. I have brought them at her request from the garden of her divine spouse." At once the child vanished.

Stunned, and utterly shocked by the child's appearance and the gifts, Theophilus experienced a sudden conversion. His colleagues jested with him and tried to laugh him to his senses, but he could not shake what had just happened.  Attempting to reason with his companions Theophilus said "It is midwinter, there are no fruits or flowers like these in February.  Our gardens are bare and our fruit trees leafless."

Nothing his friends could say or do would shake Theophilus' new found faith, even though believing in such a faith had just led St. Dorothy to her death; a death Theophilus himself mocked. Theophilus himself was brought before the same court, but this time not as a lawyer, but as the accused. He stood before the judge charged with being a convert to the new religion Christianity - Theophilus gave witness to the court, whereupon he was summarily condemned to death.  The death of a martyr.

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