From the Desk of Father Michael
Venerable Euphrosyne of Alexandria
Commemorated September 25
As an ascetic you hid your womanhood and your falling-asleep was amazement, O Euphrosyne. Though a woman, you toiled as a man, and by your prayers you save those who honor you! Troparion, Chanted In Tone 1
Desiring the life on high and forsaking all earthly pleasures, you lived as a man among men, O Euphrosyne. For the sake of Christ your Bridegroom, you spurned earthly betrothal! Kontakion, Chanted In Tone 2
Beloved In Christ,
Saint Euphrosyne of Alexandria was born in the fifth century in Alexandria, Egypt. She was an only child of a prominent and successful family. Her mother died early in Euphrosyne’s childhood and her father, Paphnutius who was a faithful and devout Christian, raised her.
When Euphrosyne turned eighteen, her father wanted her to be married even though she yearned for the monastic life. Paphnutius and Euphrosyne went to the monastery near their home in order to speak and receive their Spiritual Father’s blessing for the planned wedding. The abbot spoke with the daughter and gave her his blessing even though the abbot had an uncomfortable and uneasy feeling.
Before her marriage she secretly accepted the tonsure of monasticism from a monk that was near her home. Euphrosyne left her father’s home and entered a women’s monastery in order to live in solitude and prayer a good distance from her home. She feared however, that her father would find her in the women’s monastery, so she went and entered the same men’s monastery, which she had visited, with her father, many times during her childhood. When she entered the holy monastery, as a man, she entered under the name, Smaragdos the Eunuch.
The monks of the monastery did not recognize Euphrosyne dressed in men’s garb, and so they accepted her into the monastery as a fellow brother. In her solitary cell, Saint Euphrosyne spent 38 years in spiritual works, fasting and in prayer. She was blessed by her God to attain a high level of spiritual skills.
Paphnutius grieved many years over the loss of his beloved daughter and sought spiritual guidance and comfort from his Spiritual Father who was the abbot of the monastery. On the advice of the abbot, he spoke with the young monk Smaragdos, revealing his grief and receiving spiritual comfort. Before her death, the nun Euphrosyne revealed her secret to her grief-stricken father and asked that no one but he should prepare her body for burial. Having buried his daughter, Paphnutius distributed all his wealth to the poor and then he accepted monasticism. For ten years he labored in the monastic cell of his daughter.
May Saint Euphrosyne pray for us.
In His Love,