The Nun Anastasia

Commemorated on March 10

      The Nun Anastasia lived in Constantinople and was descended from an aristocratic family. The pious patrician was for many the image of virtue and she enjoyed the great esteem of the emperor Justinian (527-565). Having early been widowed, Anastasia decided to leave the world and save her soul far off from the bustle of the capital. She secretly abandoned Constantinople and set off to Alexandria. She founded a small monastery not far from the city and devoted herself wholly to God.
      Several years later the emperor Justinian was widowed and decided to seek out Anastasia so as to marry her. Having learned of this, blessed Anastasia immediately set out to a remote skete monastery to abba Daniel (Comm. 18 March) for help. In order to safeguard Anastasia, the elder dressed her in a man's monastic garb and called her the eunuch Anastasias. Having settled her in one of the very remote caves, the elder gave her a rule of prayer and ordered her never to leave the cave and receive no one. Only one monk knew this place: he had the obedience once a week to bring to the cave a small portion of bread and a pitcher of water, leaving it at the entrance. The nun Anastasia dwelt in suchlike seclusion for twenty-eight years. Everyone reckoned that in the cave it was the eunuch Anastasias that pursued asceticism.
      The Lord revealed to her the day of her death. Having learned of immanence of death, she wrote on a potsherd several words for abba Daniel and placed it at the entrance to the cave. The starets (elder) came quickly and brought everything necessary for her burial. He found the holy ascetic still alive, and he confessed and communed her with the Holy Mysteries. At the request of the abba, blessed Anastasia blessed him and the monk accompanying him. With the words: "Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit", the saint quietly died (+ c. 567-568).
      When the grave was prepared, the starets gave his disciple a riasa and ordered him to dress the deceased brother. Putting on the riasa, the monk realised that before him was a woman, but he did not dare to say anything. When however they returned to the monastery, having buried the nun, the disciple asked the abba whether he knew the supposed brother was a woman, and the elder related to the young monk the history of Saint Anastasia. Later on the narratives of the abba were written down and received wide acclaim.
      The relics of the nun Anastasia were transferred in the year 1200 to Constantinople, and put not far from the temple of Saint Sophia.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Nun Anastasia

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