May 23rd (June 5th) is the day when the Orthodox commemorate a very special Belarusian saint, St Euphrosinia of Polotsk. As you may know, the abbess of our Convent bears the saint’s name, which means that it is her name day as well.
The Venerable Euphrosinia, Abbess of Polotsk, is a very special saint to all Orthodox Christians of Belarus.
Her father, prince Sviatoslav of Polotsk, named his daughter Predslava. As a child, she was wise and intelligent beyond her years. As a young girl, she refused many marriage proposals. When she found out that her parents wanted her to marry one of the princes, she secretly left her father’s house and went to a monastery. At that time, she was only twelve years old. None of her father’s threats could possibly turn her away from the path she had chosen - monastic life with God.
Predslava’s aunt was abbess Romana. She blessed the girl to receive monastic tonsure when she saw her love for God and desire to pray. She was tonsured and received her new name - Euphrosinia.
A handmade icon of Saint Euphrosinia of Polotsk from semi-precious stones created in our Convent*
The strict monastic life did not seem oppressive to the young girl. In fact, she found it liberating. So she wanted to do more and more ascetical labours. First, she retired into seclusion where she was able to spend a lot of time in prayer. She also started to print copies of the spiritual books she was reading.
After a few years of monastic life, when young nun Euphrosinia had become spiritually stronger, an angel of God appeared to her. He showed her a specific place near Polotsk where she should build a new monastery. The angel told her that God wished to lead many to the path of salvation through St Euphrosinia and her monastery.
Euphrosinia did as the angel told her. She founded Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery in Seltso where she started to teach young girls aspiring to live a monastic life her favorite occupations - copying books, singing spiritual hymns, and sewing. That way she became a spiritual mother for many young women.
The relics and the cross of St. Euphrosinia of Polotsk
By virtue of her word and wisdom Saint Euphrosinia made peace not only in the souls of the nuns at the monastery, but also in the hearts of some Russian land rulers. During the times of the fragmentation of Russia, she made peace among princes and nobles with a gracious word of instruction and love.
Towards the end of her life, her lifelong dream of visiting Jerusalem became a reality. She made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and peacefully departed to the Lord there.
The Feast Day of Saint Euphrosinia is always a very joyous day for all the sisters of Saint Elisabeth Convent.
On the eve of the feast, we serve festive Vespers and sing hymns in honor of Saint Euphrosinia. Here is one of them:
“Desiring the life on high and forsaking all earthly pleasures,
You lived as a man among men, O Euphrosinia.
For the sake of Christ your Bridegroom,
You spurned earthly betrothal!”
(Kontakion of the Feast Day of Saint Euphrosinia of Polotsk)
Abbess Euphrosinia of St Elisabeth Convent
On the day of the feast (5th of June in the Belarussian Orthodox Church), everyone attends a festive and joyous Divine Liturgy when many more hymns are sung as well:
As an ascetic you hid your womanhood
And your falling-asleep was an amazement, O Euphrosinia.
Though a woman, you toiled as a man,
And by your prayers you save those who honor you!
(Troparion of the Feast Day of Saint Euphrosinia of Polotsk)
After the Liturgy the clergy, the sisters and the parishioners of the Convent usually congratulate our Abbess Euphrosinia with her Name Day and wish her many years.
If you want to send our dear Abbess Euphrosinia Name Day wishes or prayer requests, you can do so by clicking on this link. She will be happy to pray for you and your loved ones on the day of the feast of Saint Euphrosinia!
* You can order this icon and other products of St Elisabeth Convent by clicking on this link.
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