Saint Theodora’s Life

In the second half of the XVIIth century and at the beginning of the XVIIIth century, at Sihla there lived, for about 40 years, the Pious Saint Theodora of Sihla. Born in the first half of the XVIIth century, in the Vanatori–Neamt village, as the daughter of Stefan Joldea, the governor of the Neamt Fortress, Saint Theodora will be even since childhood a model of holiness. She will attend the monasteries in the Neamt region and especially the “Saint Nicholas” Church in the Neamt Fortress.
Her parents, against her will, decide to marry her off to a young believer from Ismail. Nevertheless, her wish to follow a monastic life was very strong and, with the approval of her good husband, she will go to the Nifon Hermitage (Varzaresti) in the Vrancea region. About 2 years afterwards, she will enter the venerable monasticism. A Turkish invasion will destroy the hermitage and thus the nuns will scatter.
Together with Schemanun Paisia and two other nuns, Saint Theodora will live in the Vrancea Mountains for about 10 years. After the death of Pious Paisia, she will return to her homeland. The abbot of Neamt Monastery will guide her towards the recently built Sihastria Hermitage (1655).
Here, she will confess to the abbot her wish to continue to live as a recluse, without anybody knowing about her. The abbot of the Sihastria Hermitage will entrust her to Pious Paul the Hermit (Cuviosul Pavel Sihastrul), the confessor of the hermits hidden in the Sihla forests, who will take her to the secret place where Sihla Hermitage lies today. She will live here for about 40 years, at first in the sanctum beneath the rock and then in the cave that today bears her name.
Saint Pious Theodora of Sihla had reached the greatness of Saint Mary the Egyptian, having the gift of clairvoyance and of doing miracles, being the greatest saint of the Romanian monachism.
Her end was miraculously announced to abbot Varsanufie from Sihastria Hermitage, who sent confessor Hieroschemamonk Antonie and Hierodeacon Lavrentie to offer her the Eucharist. In the presence of all the monks from Sihastria Monastery who had come to see her, Saint Theodora confessed and then, after receiving the Sacraments, passed away peacefully, being buried in the cave. In the second half of the XIXth century, Saint Pious Theodora of Sihla’s relics were taken to Pecerska Lavra in Kiev, where they still are today.
Towards the end of the XVIIth century, Pious Paul the Hermit (Cuviosul Pavel Sihastrul), Saint Theodora’s confessor, will withdraw in the wilderness between Sihla and Rapa lui Coroi, where he will leave for about 10 years. His relics will remain in the forest for more than 200 years.
After Saint Theodora’s leaving to Nifon Hermitage, her husband will go to Poiana Marului Monastery (Buzau county) himself, becoming Pious Elefterie.
On hearing about Theodora’s passing, whom he had known nothing about for decades, he will also come to Sihla, where he will live for 10 more years in the sanctum beneath the rock where Saint Pious Theodora had arrived at first. He was buried in the clearing of the hermitage.