January 24, 2015

Saint Xenia of Rome and her Two Maidservants

St. Xenia and her Two Maidservants (Feast Day - June 24)


To Xenia
Xenia was a stranger to life,
Having truly lived before as a stranger.

To the Two Maidservants
Both servants died with Xenia,
Not being a stranger to her virtues.

On the twenty-fourth the stranger Xenia entered heaven.

Saint Xenia, the daughter of a Christian noble family of Rome, was born in the course of the fifth century and named Eusebia in holy Baptism. Although she had grown up with the desire of consecrating her virginity to the Lord Jesus Christ, her parents made preparations regardless for the marriage which they had arranged for her. So it was that, on her wedding night, she fled with two of her maidservants and embarked on a ship bound for Alexandria.

On reaching the island of Kos, she changed her name to Xenia or Xeni ("the Stranger") in order to not be known to anyone and, lifting up her hands to God, she prayed earnestly that, as He had sent the Apostle Paul to Saint Thekla, so He would send a second Paul to guide her also on the road to salvation. There then appeared to her a venerable Elder, who was indeed named Paul. He took her and her two companions to the city of Mylassa in Caria (southwestern Turkey), where there was a monastery of which he was Abbot, and he offered them cells nearby.

For many years Saint Xenia led an altogether heavenly life in this place, and undertook mortifications which made the demons quail. She would take a little bread by way of food every two or three days and season it with her tears, pray through the night, and flee every occasion of vainglory by humbly putting herself at the service of the poor and of the disciples who gathered in increasing numbers around her. She saw to the building of a church near her cell, dedicated to Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, and the place soon became a well-organized convent.

Having sojourned truly as a stranger on earth, Saint Xenia fell asleep in peace as she prayed for her sisters, and her soul departed with joy for the heavenly homeland. The favor which she had won with God was evident at her funeral, when, in the full light of day, there appeared in the sky a luminous cross, brighter than the sun, encircled by a choir of seven stars, and all surrounded by a starry crown. This heavenly apparition accompanied her funeral procession and vanished only when the body of the holy woman was placed in the earth.

From The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Vol. 3, by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra.

The Relics of Saint Xenia

Following the repose of the Saint, her tomb became a place of pilgrimage for the pious faithful. Miracles were reported there as well, through her intercessions.

At some point in time, her sacred skull was transferred to the Cathedral in Selybria in Eastern Thrace. Following the exchange of the populations in 1922, the faithful brought the sacred skull of Saint Xenia with them from Selybria to Kavala in northern Greece, where it remains today in the Church of Saint John the Forerunner.

The portions of her relics which remained in Mylassa were brought to Greece at the same time by the Greeks who lived there and came to settle in Nicaea of Piraeus. In Nicaea, the Mylassians, at the initiative of the Pontian Bishop Gervasios of Sebastia, who was promoted as Metropolitan of Grevena in 1934, along with Archimandrite Philaretos, built a church in honor of the Saint, where a portion of her sacred relics was deposited.

Other portions of her sacred relics can be found in Agathonos Monastery in Fthiotidos, the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Nikiton Chrysoupoli of Kavala, Leimonos Monastery in Lesvos, and Ntaou Penteli Monastery.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Thou didst live the life of a stranger in the world, and wast estranged to every sin; thou didst abandon comforts and fleeting honours, and betroth thyself to thine Immortal Bridegroom. O glorious Xenia, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Celebrating the memory of the life thou didst live as a stranger, and honouring thee with love, we praise Christ Who gave thee power to grant healings to all. O Xenia, ever pray to Him for us all.