Saint Theodora, the Patron of the city, was born sometime between 1212 and 1214 A.D. in Salonica. At the age of 17, she married Despot Michael the 2nd Angelos Komnenos and came to Arta as his Queen. She was a noble person who tried to get to know the city and its people from the very first moment and showed interest and sympathy to their problems.
Indicative of her kindness towards the locals, regardless of their religion, was the fact that she offered the Jewish community a piece of land for the building of the “Greka” Synagogue. The synagogue was built in front of the castle, where nowadays visitors can see the monument of the Holocaust.
Unfortunately, his duty called Michael away from his home, sometimes even for months. He would leave Theodora alone while he yielded to temptations. He even got to the point where, for the sake of another woman, he threw Theodora out of the palace while she was pregnant with their first child.
Theodora wandered here and there for some time until, a few months later, she gave birth to her son Nikiforos (meaning “the one who bears victory”). Meanwhile Michael regretted for his behaviour and started seeking Theodora, until he found her and brought her back to the palace. After the death of her husband and until her own death in 1281 the Queen of Arta lived as a nun at the Convent of Saint George, which, after her being declared a Saint, honours her name.
Nowadays her relics are kept in a silver coffin inside the temple so that believers can get her blessing. The celebration of the
Patron Saint Theodora on March 11th is an official holiday for the city. Tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over Greece flock to the Patron Saint’s temple to pay their respects to her relics which are taken around in a procession to the streets of the town for everybody to get her blessing.