The Nun Eupraxia
Commemorated on July 25
The Nun Eupraxia
was daughter of the Constantinople dignitary Antigonos, a kinsman of the holy
Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395).
Antigonos and his wife Eupraxia were pious and bestowed generous alms on the destitute. A daughter was born to them, whom they likewise named Eupraxia. Antigonos soon died. The mother withdrew from the imperial court and together with her daughter she set out to Egypt under the pretext of looking over her properties. And there near the Thebaid was a women's monastery with a strict monastic rule. The life of the inhabitants attracted the pious widow. She wanted to bestow aid on this monastery, but the hegumeness Theophila refused and said, that the nuns had fully devoted themselves to God and that they did not wish the acquisition of any earthly riches. The hegumeness consented to accept only candles, incense and oil.
The younger Eupraxia was at this time seven years old. She liked the monastic manner of life and she decided to remain at the monastery. Her pious mother did not stand in the way of her daughter's wish. Taking leave of her daughter at the monastery, Eupraxia asked her daughter to be humble, never to dwell upon her nobleborn descent, and to serve God and her sisters fervently. In a short while the mother died. Having learned of her death, the emperor Saint Theodosius sent Saint Eupraxia the Younger a letter, in which he reminded her, that her parents had betrothed her to the son of a certain senator for when she reached age fifteen, and that he desired that she would fulfill the commitment made by her parents. In answer to the letter, Saint Eupraxia wrote to the emperor, that she had already become a bride of Christ and she requested of the emperor to dispose of her properties, distributing the proceeds for the use of the Church and the needy.
Saint Eupraxia, having reached the age of maturity, intensified her ascetic efforts all the more. At first she partook of food once a day, then after two days – three days or more and finally, once a week. She combined her fasting with the fulfilling of all her monastic obediences: she toiled humbly in the kitchen, she washed dishes, she swept the premisses and served the sisters with zeal and love. And the sisters loved the unpretentious Eupraxia. But one of them envied her and explained away all her efforts as a desire for glory. This sister began to trouble and to reproach her, but the holy virgin did not answer her back, and instead humbly asked forgiveness.
The enemy of the human race caused the saint much misfortune. One time in getting water she fell into the well, from which the sisters extracted her; another time Saint Eupraxia was chopping wood for the kitchen and cut herself on the leg with an axe. When she carried an armload of wood up upon the ladder, she stepped on the hem of her garment, she fell and a sharp splinter cut her near the eyes. All these woes Saint Eupraxia endured with patience, and when they asked her to give herself a rest, she would not consent. For her efforts, the Lord granted Saint Eupraxia a gift of wonderworking: through her prayer she healed a deaf and dumb crippled child, and she delivered from infirmity a demon-oppressed woman. They began to bring the sick for healing to the monastery. The holy virgin humbled herself all the more, reckoning herself least among the sisters. Before the death of Saint Eupraxia, the hegumeness had a vision. The holy virgin was transported into a resplendid palace and was greeted with a spot before the Throne of the Lord surrounded by holy Angels, and the All-Pure Virgin showed Saint Eupraxia about the luminous chamber and said to her, that She had made ready for her and that she would come into this habitation after the space of ten days.
The hegumeness and the sisters wept bitterly, not wanting to lose Saint Eupraxia. The saint herself, in learning about the vision, wept that she was not prepared for going into eternity, and she besought the hegumeness to implore the Lord to leave her alive even one year more for repentance. The hegumeness consoled Saint Eupraxia and said, that the Lord would grant her His great mercy. Suddenly Saint Eupraxia sensed herself not well, and having sickened, she soon peacefully died at age thirty (+ 413).
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.