Ofrasia, Ofraxia or St. Euphrasia was born in Constantinople during the reign of emperor Theodosius the great in the late third century. She was the relative of the Emperor. Her father Onttikhos or Antigonus, was the ruler of the city of Wikia, He was a pious man having an honorable root. The mother was a very beautiful pious woman who was also called Euphrasia. After giving birth to their child, the parents agreed to live in celibacy under the same roof engaged in hidden monastic life hidden. When the child was one year her father departed.
On her fifth year the emperor asked her mother to betroth her daughter to one of the sons of the nobles. The mother agreed. But as she was twenty-two years old and because of her evident beauty many of the high rank youth supervision would like to marry this young widow. The emperor was urging her to marry. Euphrasia asked the emperor tp allow her to visit Egypt to manage some of her material affairs. The primary goal was to escape from the imperial palace for fearing the pressure by the emperor. She did not want to break the vow of chastity, which she had done to keep the memory her husband.
As Euphrasia and her reached Egypt, they visited some monasteries, including the monastery in Alexandria that was occupied by hundred and thirty nuns. Having a strong spirit they lived an ascetic life. They did not go out of their monastery.
They fasted till sunset. Then they only ate bread and Beans. They wear nun’s costumes and did handwork. Euphrasia tried to give donation for the monastery. But the head of the monastery firmly refused to take any money. She apologized telling Euphrasia that the work of their hands was enough for subsistence.
Euphrasia the mother and her young daughter Euphrasia visited this small monastery frequently. They felt peace of mind at this monastery.
The nuns loved child Euphrasia who was seven years old. The head mother of the convent asked the young girl as a joke: "Who do you love more, the nuns of this monastery or your fiancé?” The girl replied: "I did not know my fiancé nor did he know me, and the Sisters of the convent I know and love them all.” Then she said to the head "What about you, do you love me or my fiancé?” The head mother smiled and then said: "We love you, and our Lord Jesus Christ loves you." Then Euphrasia said: "I also love you all and love our Lord Jesus Christ's a great love." Euphrasia's mother listened to her kid’s words and noticed the expressions of her face. As she could not summon the joy, tears flowed from her eyes without saying a word.
The mother said: "We need to get out of the monastery it is place for the nuns who dedicated all their time for worshipping God in privacy”." The child kneeled before the icon of the crucified saying: "Oh, sweet Jesus, You is my Lord and my God. Behold, I worship You with all my soul and my thoughts. I do not want to get out of here, because I do not want a groom except Thee."
The head mother and Euphrasia the mother were the affected by the child’s prayer and did not know what to do. The head gently said to the girl: "You can not stay now because there are no free cells" The child simply said: "Why can not I live with you in your cell?"
The head motherfelt ashamed and then said to the mother “Leave her and we will prepare a place”. She explained that she thought that the child could not afford accommodation for a long time, but feel wearily and leave the monastery.
The head mother and Euphrasia’s mother were the affected by the child’s prayer and did not know what to do. The head gently said to the girl: "You can not stay now because there are no free cells" The child simply said: "Why can not I live with you in your cell?"
The head mother felt ashamed, and then said to the mother “Leave her and we will prepare a place”. She explained that she thought that the child could not afford accommodation for a long time, but feel wearily and leave the monastery. The child remained for days without showing any fed but was more attached to the sacred place with joy and rejoice. The head mother along with her mother asked her to leave the monastery. But she refused. The head mother added more burdens on the child hoping this would convince her to leave the monastery. She asked her to memorize all the Psalms by heart and to practice some of the practices of austerity. The child lived happily growing in grace. This led the head mother to say to Euphrasia the mother: "Leave the little girl with us, the grace of God is working in her heart The virtues of both you and Onttikhos have opened the way for her fully.
The tears flowed from the eyes of a mother feeling triumphant for her daughter, as she grabbed her daughter and advanced to the icon of the Holy Cross, she said: "O Lord Jesus Christ, receive the girl. She loves You and only You she requests. She dedicated her life to serve You." Then she went to her daughter, she said: "I wish God, who founded the mountains protect you always in His Holy fear." It was not long until Euphrasia wore the monasticism uniform.
The mother asked her girl if she was glad or not. The girl replied “Mother, this is my wedding dress, given to me to venerate Jesus my Love", The mother was very happy to see her daughter grow in grace. Euphrasia the mother saw her husband in a dream, glistening with heavenly lights, inviting her to the kingdom. She told the head mother about that dream. Soon she departed and was buried in the cemetery of the monastery.
The invitation to Constantinople:
Euphrasia grew every day in the life of pure and sacred knowledge of God. As she reached the eighteen years old she used to eat only in the evening. The emperor, most probably Arcadious, summoned her to come to Constantinople to marry the noble to whom she already was engaged.
She replied telling him that she had already accepted the Heavenly Groom and dedicated her life to Him. She asked him to distribute all her inheritance to the poor and to free all slaves.
The emperor rejoiced when he received her letter and proudly read it on the judges and all those around him. She with humility did the lowest exercises humility and served to her maximum capacity all that were at the monastery.
She cleaned the cells of the nuns. carried water for the kitchen, and cut the firewood, etc. ... Everyone loved her humility and love!
The adversary did not stop fighting her. Sometimes trying to remind her with her palaces at Constantinople. Other times attempting to convince her of the possibility of a better service if she had lived her life married to a noble. In some other times fighting her with the illusions of physical lusts… etc
One of the nuns considered the status of Euphrasia the nun, the dignity of love in the heart of all the nuns, including the head mother, due to her obedience with humility, love and joy that had given beautiful spiritual side of beauty, in addition to her obvious physical beauty although she was severely fasting, to the extent that sometimes she ate once a week. This nun who felt such envy was called called Jermina of the slaves. This nun spread a rumor in the convent that what Euphrasia was doing was not just love towards God, but a request for false glory and loving to emerge. However, Euphrasia was being kind enough and lean to her more than the rest of the nuns.
It was said that a family brought a woman possessed by a violent demon. She was irritating and hit any one on her side violently. She came to the monastery bound and her family asked the nuns to pray for her. The head mother asked Euphrasia to pray, as it was known that God gave her the talent of healing the patients in the Holy Name Jesus Christ. She cast out evil spirits and demons by a contrite and humble spirit. Euphrasia gently treated her and prayed. The woman subsided and felt at ease.
This aroused the envy of the nun Jermina . She went to the mother head lamented why the woman, who was pledged to the devil was delivered to nun Euphrasia not any other. Indeed, as the woman came again the mother head handed her over to Jermina. The woman bet her violently and with intensity until she nearly killed her. Then by the intervention of St. Euphrasia she calmed her and refreshed after the devil came out of her. God was glorified in the life of Euphrasia. Jermina regretted what she had said and done. When Euphrasia reached thirty years old she fell ill and suffered much. Then she lay in the Lord. Sister Julia (was not mentioned before that Euphrasia was her disciple) was affected by the departure of her disciple Euphrasia. She stayed next to her grave three days crying and praying. On the fourth day Julia told the head mother that Jesus Christ had called upon her to rest by the prayers of Euphrasia.
Actually her soul was taken on the same fourth day, and was buried with her disciple (around 420 AD).
A manuscript that included a set of biographies of the Saints, Monastery of St. Abba Antonius.
O. Leary: The Saints of Egypt, P 135; Butler, Mar. 13.
Please note: Some people think she was a virgin of Rome, and she was a cousin of the emperor Houphorios.
May the blessings of their prayers Be with all of us Amen.
|Arabic biography source of: Euphrasia St.|
|Translated by: Maged (servant of the LORD)||
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