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Saint Alexios the Man of God (17 March)

Saint Alexis was born in old Rome of illustrious parents named Euphemianus and Aglais, and at their request was joined to a young woman in marriage. However, he did not remain with her even for one day, but fled to Edessa, where he lived for eighteen years. He returned to Rome in the guise of a beggar and sat at the gates of his father’s house, unknown to all and mocked by his own servants. His identity was revealed only after his death by a paper that he had on his person, which he himself had written a little before his repose. The pious Emperor Honorius honoured him with a solemn burial. The title “Man of God” was given to him from heaven in a vision to the Bishop of Rome on the day of the Saint’s repose.

Varied are the paths upon which God leads those who desire to please Him and fulfill His Law. There lived in Rome at the time of Emperor Honorius a high-ranking dignitary, Euphemianus, who was highly respected and extremely wealthy. He and his wife, Aglaida, led a God-pleasing life. Even though he was wealthy, Euphemianus sat at the table once a day, after the setting of the sun. He had an only son, Alexis, who was compelled to marry when he became an adult. But, on the night of the wedding, Alexis left not only his wife but also the home of his father. He boarded a boat and arrived at the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia, where there was the wondrous image of our Lord, sent there by our Lord Himself to King Abgar.

Having venerated this image, Alexis clothed himself in the garb of a beggar. As such, he lived in the city for seventeen years, continually praying to God in the vestibule of the Church of the Theotokos. When it became known that he was a holy man, he became frightened of the praise of men, departed Edessa, boarded a boat, and traveled to Laodicea. According to God’s providence, the boat was carried off-course and sailed all the way to Rome. Considering this to be the hand of God, Alexis decided to go to the house of his father and there, unknown, continue his life of self-denial. His father did not recognize him but out of charity allowed him to live in his courtyard in a hut. Alexis remained there for seventeen years, living only on bread and water. Mistreated by the servants in various ways, he endured everything to the end.

When his end approached, he wrote a letter, clenched it in his hand, and then lay down and died, on March 17, 411 A.D. At the same time there was a revelation in the Church of the Twelve Apostles. In the presence of the emperor and the patriarch a voice was heard which said: “Seek out the Man of God.” Shortly after that, it was revealed that this “Man of God” resided at the house of Euphemianus. The emperor along with the pope and an entire retinue arrived at the home of Euphemianus, and after a lengthy discussion they learned that the beggar was that “Man of God.” When they entered his hut, they found Alexis dead, but his face shown like the sun. From the letter his parents learned that he was their son Alexis.

And his bride, who for thirty-four years had lived without him, learned that he was her husband. All were overcome with immense grief and pain. Later they were comforted, seeing how God glorified His chosen one. By touching his body, many of the sick were healed, and from his body flowed a sweet-smelling oil [Chrism]. His body was entombed in a coffin of marble and jasper. His head is preserved in the Church of St. Laurus in the Peloponnese.

Apolytikion of Alexis the Man of God

Fourth Tone

Though thou didst bud forth from a renowned and notable root, and though thou didst blossom from a city famed for her great imperial dignity, yet didst thou scorn all things as corruptible and fleeting, striving to be joined to Christ thy Master for ever. Entreat Him, O Alexis most wise, fervently for our souls.

Kontakion of Alexis the Man of God

Fourth Tone

As we celebrate today with fitting rev’rence the all-holy festival of Saint Alexis the all-blest, with hymns we praise him and cry aloud: Rejoice, thou gladsome adornment of righteous men.