In this episode of “Walking The Way with The Saints”, we focus on St. Eugenia of Rome (183-258 A.D.) the daughter of Philip and Claudine of Roman origin. We commemorate her on December 24 according to the Syriac Orthodox Liturgical calendar. Sunday School teacher and, HE, Archbishop Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf’s niece, Nancy Baballos presents us with her research into the saint’s life and how her love of the Lord led her to endure many torments including the martyrdom of her father, friends, and herself.
St. Eugenia was a very beautiful girl who was known for her beauty and her good manners. She later lived in Alexandria because her father was sent by Emperor Commodus to be elected as the Prefect of Egypt. Known for her beauty and good disposition, many wanted her hand in marriage but she refused because she was set on preserving her virginity.
There, she learned of the Epistles of the Apostle Paul and she desperately wanted to become a Christian but she kept this secret to herself. During the time she learned about Christianity, Christians were persecuted out of Alexandria by the command of the emperor. Wanting to learn more about Christianity, St. Eugenia decided to ask her parents for permission to leave the city for some time to enjoy the countryside. She was allowed to leave with her two servants, Protus and Hyacinthus.
St. Eugenia and her servants reached a monastery and were baptized on July 14th by a bishop named Elias, who knew about her through a vision. The saint was blessed by the bishop to pursue asceticism at the monastery while disguised as a monk named Eugene.
Because of the holy life St. Eugenia lived, she acquired the gift of healing. One instance occurred where a rich young woman, Melanthia, sought the help of St. Eugenia, however, saw her as the monk “Eugene”. This rich woman had an impure passion for the saint, and when she was rejected, she accused the saint of attempted rape. Saint Eugenia was taken to trial in front of the Prefect of Egypt which at the time was her father. There, the saint was forced to uncover her secret and come true to her family with her Christian beliefs. Her family took her in and were very glad to find their long gone daughter.
Later, St. Eugenia’s family decided to become Christians and were baptized. The saint’s father was still the Prefect at the time and was forced to leave office. On the other hand, the Christians of Alexandria chose Philip as their bishop, however, he was later assassinated by the new Prefect of Egypt.
Her mother, Saint Claudia, decided to go to Rome with her children and her servants. There, she built a wanderer’s hostel and helped the poor. Also, Saint Eugenia continued living a life of monasticism where she helped many young women to find their faith in Christ. In later years, Emperor Galineus began persecuting Christians of Rome and many of them seeked help from Saints Claudia and Eugenia.
A roman girl named Basilla who was of imperial lineage heard about Saint Eugenia and sent a message through a servant to her asking her if she would explain the Christian teachings in a letter for her. Saint Eugenia decided to send Sts. Protus and Hyacinthus to teach Basilla and she later accepted holy Baptism. After her baptism, Basilla’s servant told her fiancé that she became a Christian. Her fiancé sent the news of Christian teachings to the emperor and when Basilla refused to marry her fiancé, she was beheaded. Saints Protus and Hyacinthus were beheaded as a sacrifice to the idols and it so happened that when they entered the temple, an idol fell and shattered. When Saint Eugenia was forcefully called to the temple, the pagan temple completely collapsed before she was able to enter.
The saint was thrown into River Tiber with a stone around her neck. The stone became untied and she was unharmed. She later did not burn in the fire. They threw her into a pit for ten days where the Lord appeared to her and told her she would enter the kingdom of heaven on the day of His birth. On the day the Lord’s birthday came, she was killed with a sword.
May the prayers and blessing of St. Eugenia of Rome be with us all and glory be to God forever, Amen!
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