Theoctiste of Lesbos

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Icon of St. Theoctiste of Lesbos in the Church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani

What we know about St. Theoktiste of Lesbos, also known as Theoctiste of Paros, we owe primarily to the prayer book written by St. Symeon the Metaphrastes ("the Translator"), renowned primarily for his (all 148) "Lives of the Saints".

It is recounted that Theoctiste lived during the 9th century and was born on the island of Mithimna, Lesbos, however, due to her association with the historical and archaeologically important Church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani - Hundred Doors (Paros), the "Parians" have her classified as one of their local saints. She was orphaned from a very young age and became a nun from her childhood and was raised in a monastery in Lesbos.

At around the time she reached the age of 18, pirates took Theoktiste, along with other young women, on one of their raids of Lesbos. On their way to the coast of Africa, their shipped anchored at the port of Naousa on Paros island. They let their captives land to get over their bout of sea-sickness and this is when Theoktiste managed to escape from her guards and got lost in the woods. [1] She wandered for many days and wound up at the temple of Ekatontapyliani.

At that time, the island was fairly deserted because the people could not bear the frequency of raids exercised by the Pirates. So, she took refuge in this temple, for over 35 years, eating wild plants and drinking Holy Water (which exists until this day under the Holy Table of the main temple).

At some point, some hunters from Evoia, visited the island of Paros to hunt in the woods. One of the dogs, discovered the saint. She asked for a covering and then appeared before the hunters and narrated her life. She requested from the hunter to return to Paros on his next journey and bring her Holy Communion. The following year, the hunter returned to the island, with the Holy Communion. Before he was about to leave the island, he went to wish her well and found her dead. He buried her where the present chapel and tomb is.

There is a tradition that says that after seven years, the hunter returned and took the holy relics with him, leaving behind only one bone which is to be found in a chest near the chapel.

She is commemorated by the church and Paros November 9 and also November 22.


  1. In those days, the woods covered most of the island

See also

External Links