Saint Alexis, The Man of God
Varied are the paths upon which God leads those who desire to please Him and to fulfill His Law. There
lived in Rome at the time of Emperor Honorius a high-ranking dignitary, Euphemian, who was highly
respected and extremely wealthy. He and his wife, Algae, led a God-pleasing life. Even though he was
wealthy, Euphemian sat at the table once a day, only after the setting of the sun. He had an only son,
Alexis, who, when he had reached the age of maturity, was compelled to marry. But on that same night, he
left not only his wife but the home of his father as well.
Alexis boarded a boat and arrived at the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia, where there was a renown image of
our Lord, sent there by our Lord Himself to Emperor Abgar. Having venerated this image, Alexis clothed
himself in the dress of a beggar and, as such, lived in the city for seventeen years, continually praying
to God in the vestibule of the Church of the Holy Mother of God. When it became public that he was a man of
God, he became frightened of the praise of men, departed Edessa and boarded a boat and traveled to Laodicea.
According to God's Providence, the boat was carried away and sailed all the way to Rome. Considering this
to be the finger of God, Alexis decided to go to the house of his father and there, as an unknown, continued
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 here for seventeen years living only on bread and water. Mistreated by
the servants in various ways, he endured all to the end.
When his end approached, he wrote a letter, clenched it in his hand, laid down and died on March 17, 411 A.D.
At the same time there was a revelation in the Church of the Twelve Apostles, and 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 Euphemian. The emperor along with the pope and an
entire retinue arrived at the home of Euphemian and after a lengthy discussion learned that the beggar was
that "Man of God." When they entered his hut, they found Alexis dead but his face shown as the sun. From
that letter his parents learned that it was their son Alexis. Also, his bride, who for 34 years lived without
him, learned that he was her husband. All were overcome with immense grief and pain. Later, they were
comforted after 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 buried in a sarcophagus of marble and
jasper. His head reposes in the Church of St. Laurus in the Peloponnese.
Why are we here on earth? To show our love for God. To learn to love God more than sin. That by our
inconsequential love, we may respond to the greater love of God. Only God's love is a great love and our
love is always inconsequential. God abundantly showed and shows His love for man both in Paradise and on
earth. This brief earthly life is given to us as a school and as an examination to question ourselves as
to whether we will respond with love to the great love of God. "Every day and every hour, proof of our love
for God is required of us," says St. Isaac the Syrian. God shows His love for us every day and every hour.
Every day and every moment we stand positioned between God and sin. We have either to give our love to God
and elevate ourselves among the angels or to choose sin and fall into the gloom of Hades.
Alexis, the Man of God, loved God more than he loved his parents, his wife and riches. He spent seventeen
years as a beggar far away from the home of his parents, and another seventeen years Alexis spent as an
unknown and scorned in the house of his parents. He did this, all for the sake of the love of God. The
merciful God responded love for love for these thirty-four years of suffering. He gave Alexis eternal life
and joy among His angels in the heavens and glory on earth.
Reference: The Prologue from Ohrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich.
Icons courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission.