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September 23, 2016

Synaxarion of Saints Xanthippe and Polyxene of Spain

On the twenty-third of this month [September], we commemorate the venerable women Xanthippe and Polyxene, who were sisters.


Xanthippe and Polyxene the kin,
Received fellowship in the chorus of Angels.

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You worthily seized the divine with might,
Sisters Xanthippe and Polyxene.

These Saints were from somewhere in Spain during the reign of Claudius Caesar (41-54).* Xanthippe was the wife of the governor of those parts, whose name was Probus, and together they were taught the piety of Christ from the Apostle Paul, while he was in Spain.** Polyxene was a virgin, who was abducted by a malignant and defiled man, but by the grace of God she remained uncorrupted by him. Having found the Apostle Andrew the First-called, she was baptized by him along with Rebecca. After this she performed many miracles, and converted many to the faith of Christ. Then with Onesimus the Apostle, they embarked together to her homeland in Spain. After many difficulties and temptations at sea, she rejoined her sister Xanthippe. They spent the rest of their lives together, and did many wonders, until they departed in peace to the Lord.


* The Acts of Xanthippe, Polyxena and Rebecca, from which we receive information about their lives, is a New Testament Apocryphal text that dates from the third or fourth century. Regarding its place in literature, twentieth century classicist scholar Moses Hadas writes: "Christians learned not only from pagan preachers but also from pagan romancers. The perfectly orthodox Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena ... has all the thrilling kidnapings, deliveries, and surprises of the typical Greek romance." It is difficult to summarize in one paragraph, therefore it is encouraged that the whole text be read, here.

Though the Synaxarion says this took place during the reign of Claudius Ceasar, the actual timeline of the events described fit more with the reign of Nero (54-68).

** That Paul visited Spain is testified by his words in Romans 15:28: "So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way."

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
You accepted the light, of the divine faith, your works shined, with piety, Venerable Polyxene the divinely-inspired, and you magnified Christ by your life, as well as by your blameless actions, therefore intercede to the Lord who glorified you, to grant us the great mercy.

Another Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
You followed in the footsteps of the Apostles, by your life through good works of brotherly love, distributing pure love, wondrous Xanthippe, and the venerable all-radiant beauty Polyxene, and now you entreat Christ, revered sisters, on our behalf.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Having traversed the earth, by your most-wondrous conduct you brought to light venerable women like yourselves, divine Xanthippe and Polyxene; wherefore you received an unfading crown from the hands of our Jesus, now hearing our cries: Rejoice pair most-divine.

Rejoice, pair of sisters, venerable women, disciples of the apostles; rejoice, Polyxene and all-revered Xanthippe, for you spent your life sensibly.