Here is St. John of Damascus [675-749. 27 March (Dec.4)]. Born in Damascus, John served as his father before him in the court of the Muslim Khalif. When the Byzantine Empire was convulsed over Iconoclasm, John wrote eloquent defenses of icons, fervently upholding the importance and worthiness of the symbols and images with which we worship God. He argued that when God became incarnate as the human Jesus Christ, the divine entered into the whole of the material, physical universe, sanctifying and making holy matter itself. Thus we can use the stuff of the physical world in our worship, because it is holy: marked by God’s own hand. John became a monk at Mar Saba near Jerusalem, and wrote a great compendium of Christian doctrine unsurpassed for many, many centuries.
Here is St. Theodora of Palestine [April 2], a virgin-martyr. She is one those whom Eusebius called “the shining lights of Palestine”, martyred in the Great Persecution of the early fourth century (Eus., HE 8.6).