On March 2 we celebrate the life of Hieromartyr Theodotus, Bishop of Cyrenia. Bishop Theodotus lived during the time of emperor Licinius (311-324), when Christians were subject to persecution. Theodotus, though, cared little for his personal safety and openly preached Christ, calling on the pagans to abandon idolatry and turn to the true God. This didn't sit well with the local governor, who ordered Theo's arrest. Rather than wait to be arrested, Theodotus turned himself in, telling the governor, “I, whom you seek, am here. I have shown myself in order to preach Christ my God.”
"The governor ordered that the saint be beaten without mercy, suspended from a tree, raked with sharp implements, and then be taken to prison. Five days later Saint Theodotus was brought to the governor, who presumed that after his tortures the bishop would prefer to renounce Christ, rather than endure new sufferings. However, Saint Theodotus did not cease to preach about Christ. At first they put the saint on an iron grate, under which they lit a fire, and then hammered nails into his feet and let him go. Many witnessed the sufferings of the martyr. Astonished at the saint’s endurance and his divinely-inspired speech, they came to believe in Christ. Learning of this, Sabinus gave orders to stop the torture and throw the saint into prison."
His torturer (Sabinus) urged him repeatedly to renounce Christ and worship the idols, but Theodotus replied, "If you knew the goodness of my God, who, it is my hope, will by these brief tortures make me worthy of eternal life, you would wish to suffer for Him as I do." (https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/saintoftheday/hieromartyr_theodotus)
Fortunately, the reign of Licinius ended while Theodotus remained in jail and Constantine assumed the throne. After granting the freedom to Christians to worship, he freed those in prison, including Theodotus. Unfortunately, he was only to remain on this earth a few more years until 326 and was not able to see the fruit born of the First Ecumenical Council that was held the year before he died (incidentally convened by Constantine to settle growing disputes within the Church).
As we start Great Lent, and as we witness the persecution of those across the world even today, we are reminded that selfless love of God overcomes the cruelty of life and promises a peace on earth and eternal life thereafter.