The Monk Alexis
Commemorated on March 17
The Monk Alexis was
born at Rome into the family of the pious and poverty-loving Eufimian and
Aglaida. The spouses were for a long time childless and constantly prayed the
Lord for granting them a child. And the Lord consoled the couple with the birth
of their son Alexis. At six years of age the lad began to read and successfully
studied the mundane sciences, but it was with particular diligence that he read
Holy Scripture. Having grown into a young man, he began to imitate his parents:
he fasted strictly, distributed alms and beneathe fine clothing he secretly
wore an hair-shirt. Early on there burned within him the desire to leave the
world and serve the One God. But his parents had prepared for Alexis to marry,
and when he attained mature age, they found him a bride.
After the betrothal, having been left alone of an evening with his betrothed, Alexis took a ring from his finger, gave it to her and said: "Keep this, and may the Lord be with us, by His grace providing us new life". And going himself secretly from his home, he got on a ship sailing for Mesopotamia.
Having come to the city of Edessa, – where the Image of the Lord "Not-made-by-Hand" was preserved, Alexis sold everything that he had, distributed the money to the poor and began to live nearby the church of the Most Holy Mother of God under a portico and survived on alms. The monk ate only bread and water, and the alms that he received he distributed to the aged and infirm. Each Sunday he communed the Holy Mysteries.
The parents sought everywhere for the missing Alexis, but without success. The servants, sent by Eufimian upon the search, arrived also in Edessa, but they did not recognise in the beggar sitting at the portico, – their master. His body was withered by strict fasting, his comeliness vanished, his stature diminished. The saint recognised them and gave thanks to the Lord that he received alms from his servants.
The unconsolable mother of Saint Alexis confined herself in her room, incessantly praying for her son. And his wife grieved together with her in-laws.
The monk dwelt in Edessa for seventeen years. One time it was revealed about him to the sexton of the church, at which the monk asceticised: the Mother of God through Her holy icon commanded: "Lead into My church that man of God, worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven; his prayer doth ascend to God, like unto fragrant incense, and the Holy Spirit doth rest upon him". The sexton began to search for such a man, but for a long while was not able to find him. Then with prayer he turned to the Most Holy Mother of God, beseeching Her to clear up his confusion. And again there was a voice from the icon proclaiming, that the man of God was that beggar, who sat in the church portico. The sexton found Saint Alexis and took him into the church. Many recognised and began to praise him. The saint, shunning fame, went secretly on a ship, journeying to Cilicia. But the Fore-Knowledge of God destined otherwise: a storm took the ship far off to the West and it arrived at the coast of Italy. The saint journeyed to Rome. Unrecognised, he humbly besought of his father permission to settle in some corner of his courtyard. Eufimian settled Alexis in a specially constructed lodging near the entrance of the house and gave orders to feed him from his table.
Living at his parental home, the saint continued to fast and he spent day and night at prayer. He humbly endured the insults and jeering from the servants of his father. The room of Alexis was situated opposite the windows of his betrothed, and the ascetic suffered grievously, hearing her weeping. Only immeasurable love for God helped the saint endure this torment. Saint Alexis dwelt at the house of his parents for seventeen years and was informed by the Lord about the day of his death. Then the saint, taking parchment, wrote about his life, asking the forgiveness of his parents and betrothed.
On the day of the death of saint Alexis, the Roman Pope Innocentius (402-417) was serving Liturgy in the presence of the emperor Honorius (395-423). During the time of services there was heard from the altar a miraculous Voice: "Come unto Me, all ye who labour and art heavy-burdened, and I wilt grant you respite" (Mt 11: 28). All those present fell to the ground in trembling. The Voice continued: "Find the man of God, departing unto life eternal, and have him pray for the city". They began to search through all of Rome, but they did not find the saint. From Thursday into Friday the Pope, making the all-night vigil, besought the Lord to point out the saint of God. After Liturgy again was heard the Voice in the temple: "Seek the man of God in the house of Eufimian". All hastened thither, but the saint was already dead. His face shown like the face of an Angel, and in his hand was clasped the parchment, which he did not let go of, nor were they able to take it. They placed the body of the saint on a cot, covered with costly coverings. The Pope and the emperor bent their knees and turned to the saint, as to one yet alive, asking to open up his hand. And the saint fulfilled their prayer. When the letter was read, the father and mother and betrothed of the righteous one tearfully venerated his holy remains.
The body of the saint, from which began to be worked healings, was put amidst the square. The emperor and the Pope themselves carried the body of the saint into the church, where it was situated for a whole week, and then was placed in a marble crypt. From the holy relics there began to flow fragrant myrh, bestowing healing unto the sick.
The venerable remains of Saint Alexis, man of God, were buried in the church of Saint Boniface. In the year 1216 the relics were opened.
The Life of the holy monk Alexis, man of God, was one always loved in Rus'.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.