The Monk Alexander, Founder of the "Unceasing Vigilance" Monastery

Commemorated on February 23

      The Monk Alexander, Founder of the "Unceasing Vigilance" Monastery, was born in Asia and received his education at Constantinople. He spent some time in military service but, sensing a calling to other service, he left the world and accepted monastic vows in one of the wilderness monasteries near Antioch under the guidance of hegumen Elias. Having advanced bit by bit through the degrees of monastic obedience, he received blessing from the hegumen to dwell in the wilderness. The monk pursued asceticism in the wilderness with but the Holy Gospel, which alone he took with him. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to preach to pagans. He converted to the faith the local city-head Rabbul, who afterwards prospered in the service of the Church, being granted the dignity of bishop and for all of 30 years he occupied the bishop's cathedra (chair) at the city of Edessa.
      Finally, the monk Alexander settled not far from the Euphrates River. Monks gathered around him, attracted by the loftiness of his prayerful asceticism and spiritual experience. A monastery arose numbering 400 monks. Then the holy hegumen in his prayerful zeal decided to make at the monastery both by day and by night never-ceasing praise to the Lord. For three years the holy abba prayed, that God might reveal to him, whether it should be pleasing to Him to establish such a monastic rule. And by a Divine revelation it was brought about in the following manner: all the monks were divided by him into 24 watches of prayer. Changing shifts each hour, they sang in two choirs both day and night the holy psalms, with the exceptions when Divine-services were celebrated in church. Hence the name "Monastery of Unceasing Vigilance", since unceasing song was offered up by the ascetics to God.
      The monk Alexander guided the monastery on the Euphrates for twelve years. Thereafter, having left as its hegumen the experienced elder Trophymos, he set off with some chosen brethren through the cities bordering on Persia, to preach the Gospel and conversion to spiritual life. Having arrived at Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine empire, he also established there a monastery with his favoured ustav (rule) of "unceasing vigilance". The monastic abba died in extreme old age after fifty years of incessant monastic striving. His death occurred in the year 430.
      The commemoration of the Monk Alexander is also celebrated on 3 July.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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