St. Themistocles was born in Myra of Lycia, Asia Minor, now in modern day Turkey, in the early 3rd century. He became a shepherd and herded his sheep on a mountain nearby. When the persecution of Christians became severe under the Roman Emperor Decius (who ruled from a.d. 249 to 251), the governor of Lycia, Asclepius, sent soldiers out to capture Christians and bring them back to the governor to deny their faith. When the soldiers actively pursued Dioscorus, a pious Christian, into the mountain where St. Themistocles was herding his sheep, St. Themistocles wouldn’t tell them where Dioscorus was hiding. For this he was taken in.
The governor tried to get St. Themistocles to reveal where Dioscorus was, but even under torture, he would not expose the life of this innocent man to inhuman torture. He was stretched, beaten on the stomach, hung on a tree, and raked with iron claws until his flesh was torn apart. From the tree of his pain, St. Themistocles spoke with the governor about Christ’s blessed death on the Cross. Then the saint gave up his spirit when finally martyred. St. Themistocles is invoked for help with animals and livestock.