THECLA, ST, one of the most celebrated saints in the Greek Church (where she is commemorated on the 24th of September) and in the Latin Church (where her festival is the 23rd of September). She is honoured with the title of "protomartyr." The centre of her cult was Seleucia, in Isauria. Her basilica, south of Seleucia, on the mountain, was long a very popular place of pilgrimage, and is mentioned in the two books of St Basil of Seleucia. The great popularity of the saint is due more particularly to her Acta, which in all their forms derive from the apocryphal work known as the Acta Pauli et Theclae. According to her Acta, Thecla was born of illustrious parentage at Iconium, and came under the personal teaching of the apostle Paul. In her eighteenth year, having broken her engagement with Thamyris, to whom she had been betrothed, she was accused by her relations of being a Christian. Armed with the sign of the cross, she threw herself on the pyre, but the flames were extinguished by a sudden rain. She then went to Antioch, where she was exposed to wild beasts, then fastened to bulls in order that she might be torn asunder, and finally thrown into a pit full of serpents; but she was delivered from all these perils. She converted many heathen. Returning to Iconium, she withdrew into a mountain solitude, and became distinguished by many virtues and miracles. In spite of their highly fabulous character, which caused them to be more than once condemned by the Church, the Acta of Paul and Thecla, which date back to the 2nd century, are among the most interesting monuments of ancient Christian literature.
See Acta Sanctorum, September, vi. 546-568; J. A. Lipsius, Acta apostolorum apocrypha (Leipzig, 1891), i. 235-269; C. Schmidt, Acta Pauli (Leipzig, 1905), where an attempt is made to prove that the Acta of Paul and Thecla formed an integral part of the Acta Pauli; see also APOCRYPHAL LITERATURE. W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire before A.D. 170 (London, 1893), pp. 375 seq.; C. Holzey, Die Thekla-Akten, ihre Verbreitung and Beurtheilung in der Kirche (Munich, 1905). (H. DE.)
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