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September 23

Saint of the day:

Saint Thecla

Saint Thecla's Story

According to a popular second century tale, Acts of Paul and Thecla, she was a native of Iconomium who was so impressed by the preaching of St. Paul on virginity that she broke off her engagement to marry Thamyris to live a life of virginity. Paul was ordered to be scourged and banished from the city for his teaching, and Thecla was ordered burned to death. When a storm providentially extinguished the flames, she escaped with Paul and went with him to Antioch. There she was condemned to wild beasts in the arena when she violently resisted the attempt of Syriarch Alexander to kidnap her, but again escaped when the beasts did no harm to her. She rejoined Paul at Myra in Lycia, dressed as a boy, and was commissioned by him to preach the Gospel. She did for a time in Iconium and then became a recluse in a cave at Meriamlik near Seleucia. She lived as a hermitess there for the next seventy-two years and died there (or in Rome, where she was miraculously transported when she found that Paul had died and was later buried near his tomb). The tale had tremendous popularity in the early Church but is undoubtedly a pious fiction and was labeled apocryphal by St. Jerome. Her feast day is September 23.





In Ma'loula, Syria, a Greek Orthodox nunnery of St. Thecla Deir Mar Takla was built near her cave tomb, reached by steps in the mountainside, a pilgrimage site with a holy well. The Church Tradition is that the mountain opened miraculously to protect St. Thecla from her persecutors.







  • 250 g of strong flour

  • 7 g sachet fast-action dried yeast

  • 200 ml of luke warm water

  • 2 tsp caster sugar

  • 1 tsp fine salt

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, for glazing

  • handful of white and black sesame seeds


  1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.

  2. Create a small well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast. Pour the water into the well and mix everything together with your hands. At this stage the dough should be very wet and fairly hard to manage.

  3. Cover the mixing bowl with cling film and leave to prove for about one hour (or until it has doubled in size).

  4. Flour a work surface and tip the proven dough out on to the work surface making sure to add lots of flour to avoid sticking. Shape the dough into a flat circle (about 2-3 cm high).

  5. Place the dough on a olive oil-greased baking tray. Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave to prove for another 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 250° C / 480° F in the last 20 minutes of this time.

  6. Dent the top of the dough by first drawing a rough inner circle (with your fingertips) of about 3 cm from the edge of the bread. Then fill in the centre of the inner circle with criss-crossed diagonal lines about 2-3 cm apart (see 2nd picture in this recipe to get the idea).

  7. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds and press the seeds in as far as you can to make sure that they stay in the bread.

  8. Bake the bread for 8 minutes at 250° C / 480° F and then turn the oven down to 200° C / 390° F and bake for another 5 minutes (or until golden brown).




Slowly-Roasted Turkish Chicken with Vegetables (Köylü Kebab)



  • 1 whole chicken around 1.5 kg (3.3 lb)

  • 1 red bell pepper

  • 1 green bell pepper

  • 2 large onions

  • 1 ½ kg ( 3.3 lb) potatoes peeled

  • 2-3 medium tomatoes

  • Juice of two lemons

  • 3-4 garlic cloves crushed

  • 1½ tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • Salt and ground pepper


  1. Preheat the oven at 190 degrees Celsius (375 F).

  2. Cut the chicken into 8-10 pieces. Wash it and drain well with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper and place the pieces in a large deep tray.

  3. Cut the potatoes and peppers into big chunks and add them to the tray together with the crushed garlic cloves. Cut the tomatoes in 4 pieces and place them in the tray. Dilute the tomato paste in 2 cups of hot water and pour it in together with the lemon juice and the olive oil. Add the oregano, season with salt and pepper and give the contents of the tray a good stir.

  4. Cover the tray with aluminium foil and cook in the oven for ~ 90 minutes.

  5. Uncover the tray and cook for another 15 minutes to give your chicken a nice golden brown color.

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