Feast Day - September 23
Patron Saint of Tarragona, Spain
Saint Thekla (Thecla or Tecla) was a saint of the early Christian Church, and a reported follower of Paul the Apostle.
According to ancient Syrian and Greek manuscripts, Saint Thekla was born into a prosperous pagan family in A.D. 16. Thekla’s mother prohibited her from joining the crowds which gathered to hear Paul preach. But Thekla found that if she sat near her bedroom window she could hear his every word.
When Thekla learned of Paul’s arrest she secretly went to the prison, and using her golden bracelets to bribe the guard, gained admittance to his cell. When she saw the Apostle she knelt before him and kissed the chains which bound his hands and feet. She remained there a long time listening to his message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
When Thekla refused to renounce her Heavenly Bridegroom, she was taken to the arena for punishment. As she was tied to the stake she saw a vision of Jesus Christ which gave her strength to face the flames. The fire was lit, but as the flames came near Thekla a thunderstorm suddenly arose and a great torrent of rain and hail came down from heaven and extinguished the flames. Embarrassed because his plan had failed, the angry governor released Thekla but commanded that she must leave Iconium at once.
Thekla gained a massive "cult-like" following, and became perhaps the most prominent figure for female empowerment at the time. She listened to Paul's teachings to fear nobody but God, and live in chastity.
An inscription in remembrance "of the martyr Thekla" in the church of St. Menas in Cyprus, and dated to the second half of the 1st century, was interpreted in the early twentieth century as evidence for her historical existence.