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September 25, 2017

Synaxarion of Saint Euphrosyne, Daughter of Saint Paphnutios of Egypt

St. Euphrosyne of Alexandria (Feast Day - September 25)


To Euphrosyne.
In a manly way you hid your femininity Euphrosyne,
And secretly you beheld the Master who sees.
On the twenty-fifth Euphrosyne submitted to death.

To Paphnutios.
Abating the flesh Paphnutios,
Lived in the Spirit, and is seen as a great light.

Saint Euphrosyne lived during the reign of Theodosius the Younger (401-450). Forsaking those things in the world that bring joy, with the fantasies and glories of this present life, she secretly left her paternal home, with a change in her appearance. She dressed herself in the garments of a man, and changed her name from Euphrosyne to Smaragdos. Because she loved the monastic way of life, she went to a men's monastery, looking like an royal eunuch, and cutting off the hair of her head, she sought in every way to hide from her father Paphnutios. Having attained that which she desired, she struggled with much labor and with intense and unceasing prayer, so that she overcame and exceeded the tenderness and femininity of her body, and she astonished and amazed the brotherhood of the monastery, seeing the extreme suffering the renowned one underwent.

And the truth was something strange, which is impossible to put into words: that is, to see a beautiful woman dwell among male monastics. She was thus able to hide herself both from her father, who laboriously sought for her in the mountains and valleys, and in every place, running to and fro, in sorrow over their separation for many and long years, as well as from the monks, with whom she dwelt. She was then able to shine like lightning among the men due to her virtues, like a precious emerald stone shines among other stones.

The blessed Euphrosyne therefore appeared as an emerald, and remained unknown, not for one, two, or three years, but for a period of thirty-eight years, namely, until the end of her life. Only when her life was coming to an end did she reveal that she was a woman and not a man. It was because her father once went to the monastery, at the time when the Saint was dying, that when she saw him she spoke only the following words: "O father." With this she delivered her spirit into the hands of God, joyful and glad for the good things she was to receive for her struggles and labors.

When her father heard her say these words, he was astonished. Therefore, because of the exceeding joy he received, for being made worthy to see his daughter, he fell to the ground as if dead. What else could he do, from the moment he heard those joyful words? And for being made worthy after thirty-eight years of searching and longing for his daughter? Thus having been found worthy of seeing his longed for child, he left his homeland and the world and all things in the world, and with like zeal and desire as his daughter that he received in his soul for the ascetic life, he also became a monastic. Wherefore he became her successor and inheritor, not only of the place where she lived, but also of her manner of life, namely of the monastery and the virtues of his daughter, and being the father of such a blessed child, he departed to the Lord with joy and gladness.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
As an ascetic thou didst hide thy womanhood, and thy falling asleep was an amazement, O Euphrosyne. Though a woman, thou didst toil as a man, and by thy prayers thou dost save those who honour thee.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Desiring the life on high and forsaking all earthly pleasures, thou didst live as a man among men, O holy Euphrosyne. For the sake of Christ thy Bridegroom, thou didst spurn earthly betrothal.