The Monk Alexander, First-Head of the "Unceasing Vigilance" Monastery

Commemorated on July 3, February 23

      The Monk Alexander, First-Head 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 call to other service, he left the world and accepted monastic tonsure in one of the Syrian wilderness monasteries near Antioch, under the guidance of hegumen Elias. He spent four years in strict obedience and monastic effort, after which he received from the hegumen blessing to dwell in the wilderness. Going into the wilderness, the monk took with him nothing from the monastery, except the Gospel. The monk then asceticised in the wilderness for seven years. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to preach to pagans. The saint converted to Christ the local city-ruler named Rabul, who afterwards was granted the dignity of bishop and for 30 years occupying the bishop's cathedra-chair at the city of Edessa. Together with Rabul all the local inhabitants accepted Baptism, and before receiving the sacrament they burned their idols in the city-square. Having confirmed the newly-converted in the faith, the Monk Alexander again went into the wilderness, where by chance he came upon a cave of robbers. Fearless of the death that might threaten him, he preached the Gospel to them and urged them to repent. And actually, all the robbers sincerely did repent, the accepted holy Baptism, and their cave they transformed into a monastery, where they dwelt in prayer and penitence. The Monk Alexander appointed an hegumen for them, gave them a monastic rule, and he himself resettled still farther in the wilderness. For several years he lived in complete solitude. But even there lovers of solitude began to throng to the monk. A monastery emerged, numbering 400 monks. Desiring at this monastery to establish uninterrupted praise to the Lord, the monk prayed for three years, that the Creator would reveal to him His will, and having then received the revelation, he initiated at the monastery the following order: all the monks were divided into 24 watches of prayer. Changing shifts each hour, day and night they sang in two choirs the Psalms of David, interrupting this only for the times of making Divine-services. The monastery received the name "Unceasing Vigilance", since ascetics throughout the cycle of both day and night sang praise to God.
      The Monk Alexander guided the monastery on the Euphrates for twelve years. Afterwards, having left as its hegumen one of his disciples, the experienced elder Trophymos, he set out with some chosen brethren through the cities bordering on Persia, preaching the Gospel among the pagans. After this missionary journeying, the Monk Alexander lived with his monks for a certain while at Antioch. There he built for the city-dwellers a church, and an home for the sick and homeless, from the means which charitable Antiochians abundantly put at his disposal. However, through the intrigues of the jealous, the Monk Alexander was compelled to move away to Constantinople. Here he founded a new monastery, in which likewise he initiated a monastic rule of "unceasing vigilance". The Monk Alexander and his monks suffered at Constantinople under the Nestorian heretics, enduring beatings and imprisonment. After this, when the storm of heretic unrest abated, the Monk Alexander spent the last days of his life at the Constantinople monastery founded by him. He died in extreme old age in about the year 430, after 50 years of incessant monastic effort. His commemoration is also 23 February, which see.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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