St. Euphrosyne icon

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Orthodox icon of Saint Euphrosyne, Efrosyne.

Commemorated September 25th.

Saint Ephrosyne  was born in Alexandria in 410 in a wealthy and pious family. Her name means "joy" or "good cheer." Her mother died when she was twelve and her father arranged for her marriage to a wealthy ruler. When she was eighteen they desired to consummate the marriage so her father took her to a monastery for a blessing. While there she observed the beautiful order of life of the monks. After returning she adopted a very pious life and would return to the monastery regularly for instruction.

Eventually she decided that she would become a nun and was tonsured. Now she wondered how to conceal herself from all her relatives. She chose to enter into a male monastery as no one would be looking for her there. She put on masculine attire, put aside her feminine nature, abandoned her house and father with all its comforts and gold and silver and left for the monastery. When she approached the monastery she used the name Smaragdos claiming to be a eunuch who was weary of the court life. She was accepted and put under the charge of an elder. She struggled and became an exemplary monk.

Her father comes home to find that she has left. They search but cannot find her. They even sent peoples to foreign lands. Eventually they gave up hope and mourned greatly. He father visited the abbot of the monastery to share his misfortune with him. He sought his wisdom as to her whereabouts. But he nor any of the monks could come up with any vision of her whereabouts. They comforted him assuring him she was in a godly place. He continued to visit the monastery for their advice and comforting. On one such visit he was introduced to Smaragdos. When he entered into Smaragdos' cell Ephrosyne's eyes filled with tears. She could see how he suffered due to his loss of her.

Due to her ascetic life he could not recognize her. She was able to comfort him and her father left the monastery grateful for having been introduced to this monk. Ephrosyne remained in the monastery for thirty-eight years. No one ever knew she was a woman. Her father visited when she was bedridden weeping bitterly. He said, "Woe is me, the wretch! Who will comfort me in my old age? It has been thirty-eight years since I lost my child, and no one has given me encouragement and hope that I should ever behold her." Then she says to him, "Be patient. Wait three more days, and then you shall witness the wonders of God!" When Ephrosyne was in her final hour she called for her father who had stayed at the monastery waiting patiently.

She said to him, " Since the almighty God has dispensed, as He willed, to vouchsafe me that I might finish my good purpose, now I shall depart to everlasting life to receive the laurel wreath which has been prepared for me. I will, therefore, assuage thy sorrow. Know this, then: I am thy daughter. Fearing that thou wouldest prevent me, I changed my attire. Moreover, God granted that thou soldiers not recognize me. Nevertheless, He brought thee here again, so thou shouldest behold me and be comforted; and moreover, that thou mightiest bury my body.... After this she surrendered her soul to God.

Her father fell to the ground laying speechless and voiceless. After her death when Fr Agapios saw what had happened he sprinkled water on her father's face. He cried out, "Let me die, for I have beheld a supernatural sight!" He rose to his feet weeping, covering the relics with his tears. He mourned, "What shall i do this day? Shall I celebrate because I have found thee or shall I mourn thy death? I am overcome by love!" Father Agapios confirmed it was his daughter and went and told the abbot and the rest of the brotherhood.

They all came to venerate the relics. One ascetic who was blind in one eye kissed the saint and recovered his sight. They buried the precious relics with honor as her countenance shone like the sun. Her father never departed form the monastery. He distributed his wealth to the poor, schools and churches. Living in the monastery he became a monk lodging in his daughter's cell and sleeping on her mat. He remained there for ten years. When he died they buried him in the same tomb with his daughter.

Reference: O.C.A.