Theodora of Vasta

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The holy and glorious Virgin-martyr Theodora of Vasta, Arcadia, Megalopolis, of the Peloponnese in Greece, is commemorated by the Church on September 11. She is not to be confused with St. Theodora of Alexandria (d. 491) who is commemorated on the same day. She is reported to have lived in various centuries: third,citation needed seventh,[1] tenth,[2] and eleventh.[3]


According to tradition, Theodora joined the army at a young age to support her family who were poor. Since her family had no heirs, she was forced to disguise herself as a man to be able to participate in the army and earn her wages.

While she was serving, a young girl fell in love with her and told the commander that she was pregnant with Theodora's child. The commander was forced to deal with the scandal and Theodora was forced to either marry the girl or sacrifice herself.

Chapel of St. Theodora in Vasta

The Chapel of St. Theodora is located just outside the village Vasta of Megalopolis in the Peloponnese of Greece. It was built between the 10th and 12th centuries. According to tradition, the construction of the church is intimately linked with the martyrdom of Theodora. Just before being executed, she prayed to God:

Let my body be a church, my hair a forest of trees, and my blood a spring to water them.

This small chapel supports 17 large trees that emerge from the roof and the walls of the chapel. Each tree weighs close to a tonne and stands over 20 metres high. For hundreds of years, the roots have not been visible. Locals could not find a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. Many researchers have spent years studying this structure, even X-raying the walls, but have no explanation for the roots of the trees. In 2003, a geophysical report was presented at the 4th Symposium of Archaeometry in Greece. The results of this investigation proved that the roots followed the gaps existing inside the stone wall of the chapel creating repulsion stresses between the stones and thus reaching the ground.

The entire building is under considerable pressure due to the large load of the trees and it is a miracle that after hundreds of years, the chapel survives with no damage to the structure or to the trees. A spring comes out from underneath the chapel and irrigates the trees.



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