Theodora of Sihla

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An icon of St. Theodora of Sihla outside her hermit's cave in the mountains by the Sihla Skete in Neamṭ, Romania.

Our venerable Mother Theodora of Sihla (also Teodora or Bohdanna of the Carpathians; Romanian: Sfânta Cuvioasă Teodora de la Sihla) was a saint who lived in the mountains of Romania in the early 17th century. The Church celebrates her feast day on August 7.


Theodora, the greatest of Romania’s holy ascetics, was born in the village of Vanatori, Neamts in the first half of the seventeenth century, and was the daughter of Stephen Joldea and his wife.

She was married to a man of Ismail but had no children. Therefore, she and her husband decided to enter the monastic life. Her husband went to the Skete of Poiana Marului, where he was tonsured with the name Eleutherius and became known as Eleutherios the Hesychast. He was also ordained to the holy priesthood.

After her monastery was destroyed by the Turks and after the death of her spiritual mother, she was advised by Hieromonk Barsanuphius of Sihastria Skete to live in the wilderness for a year. Guided by Hieromonk Paul, who had been assigned by Fr. Barsanuphius, she found a hermit living in a cave. The hermit greeted her by name and invited her to live in his cell, for he would move to another place, where she lived as a recluse.

When Turks attacked the villages and monasteries around Neamts, the woods became filled with villagers and monastics. Some nuns found St Theodora's cell, and she called out to them, "Remain here in my cell, for I have another place of refuge." Then she moved into a nearby cave, living there completely alone. An army of Turks discovered the cave, and were about to kill the saint. Lifting up her hands, she cried out, "O Lord, deliver me from the hands of these murderers." The wall of the cave opened, and she was able to escape into the woods. [1]

She is the patron saint of a church (Venerable Mother Teodora of Sihla) consecrated in 1997 at the Sihastria Monastery. There is also a men's skete dedicated to her, also affiliated with Sihastria Monastery.

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