Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Saint Euphrasia

Euphrasia was a Roman and born to rich but deeply Christian parents. Her father, a relative of Emperor Theodosius I, died when she was just a year old and the emperor looked after Euphrasia and her mother. Emperor Theodosius accomplished his mission of converting Rome into a Christian state.

When Euphrasia was seven, her mother took her to Egypt. There they lived in a large house near a convent of nuns. Euphrasia was fascinated by the nuns. She begged her mother to let her serve God in the convent. She was just a little girl, but she was not about to give up the idea or forget her request. Soon after, Euphrasia's mother took her to the convent and put her in the care of the abbess.

Euphrasia's mother died and the emperor reminded the young woman that her parents had promised her in marriage to a rich young senator. Of course Euphrasia wanted to belong to no one but Jesus. So she wrote a respectful letter to the emperor.

In it she said, "I belong to Jesus, and I cannot give myself to anyone else. My only desire is that the world should forget about me completely. I humbly beg Your Majesty to take all the riches my parents left me and give them to the poor. I ask Your Majesty to free all the slaves of my family. Please cancel all the debts people owe me."

The emperor thought her letter was so beautiful that he read it out loud to all the senators. He agreed to do everything she had asked.

Euphrasia spent the rest of her life as a nun. She never regretted that the Lord had chosen her to be a religious. She often fasted and when faced with temptations, would sometimes spend the day carrying heavy stones from one place to another as penance.

Euphrasia died in 420. We celebrate her feast day on March 13th.

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