St. Alexis the Man of God (+411)
Commemorated on March 17
St. Alexios (also spelled Alexius, Alexy) was born in Rome to pious Euphemianos and Aglais. They were childless for a long time and constantly prayed the Lord to grant them a child. The Lord heard and answered their prayer with Alexios.
At age six, St. Alexios began to read and successfully studied the sciences; however, it was with particular diligence that he read Holy Scripture. When he was a young man, St. Alexios began to imitate his parents: he fasted strictly, distributed alms and beneath his fine clothing he secretly wore a hair shirt. His desire was to leave the world and serve God. His parents, however, had arranged for St. Alexis to marry a beautiful and virtuous bride.
On his wedding night, St. Alexios gave her his ring and his belt (which were very valuable) and said, “Keep these things, Beloved, and may the Lord be with us until His grace provides us with something better.”
Secretly leaving his home, he boarded a ship sailing for Mesopotamia. Arriving in the city of Edessa, St. Alexios sold everything that he had, distributed the money to the poor and began to live near the church of the Most Holy Theotokos under a portico. He used a portion of the alms he received to buy bread and water, and he distributed the rest to the aged and infirm. Each Sunday he received the Holy Mysteries.
When his parent’s servants found him in Edessa, St. Alexios was virtually unrecognizable because his body was withered by fasting, his comeliness vanished, and his stature diminished. St. Alexios recognized them and gave thanks to the Lord that he received alms from his own servants. St. Alexios dwelt in Edessa for seventeen years.
St. Alexios traveled to Rome and decided to live in his own house. Unrecognized, he humbly asked his father’s permission to settle in some corner of his courtyard. His father built a specially constructed cell and gave orders to feed him from his table.
St. Alexis continued to fast, and he spent day and night at prayer. He humbly endured insults and jeering from the servants of his father. The cell of Alexis was opposite his wife’s windows, and he suffered grievously when he heard her weeping. Only his immeasurable love for God helped the saint endure this torment.
St. Alexios dwelt at the house of his parents for seventeen years, and the Lord revealed to him the day of his death. Then the saint, taking paper and ink, wrote certain things that only his wife and parents would know. He also asked them to forgive him for the pain he had caused them.
On the day of St. Alexios’ death in 411, Archbishop Innocent (402-417) was serving Liturgy in the presence of the emperor Honorius (395-423). During the services a Voice was heard from the altar: “Come unto Me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt.11:28). All those present fell to the ground in terror. The Voice continued: “On Friday morning the Man of God comes forth from the body; have him pray for the city, that you may remain untroubled.” They began to search throughout Rome, but they did not find the saint. Thursday evening the Pope was serving Vigil in the Church of Saint Peter. He asked the Lord to show them where to find the Man of God. After Liturgy the Voice was heard again in the temple: “Seek the Man of God in the house of Euphemianus.” All hastened there, but St. Alexios was already dead.