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September 25 Saints of the Day – Euphrosyne of Suzdal and Hermann von Reichenau

On this day in 1958, Andorra, having been forgotten at Versailles, finally signed an official treaty with Germany ending WW I. They’re still at war with Al-Andalus, but there’s nobody left to sign on its behalf.

Euphrosone of SuzdalEuphrosyne of Suzdal (1212 – 1250) didn’t come along until her parents (Great Prince Michael of Chernigov and his great wife Theophania) had made multiple pilgrimages to the Caves Monastery in Kiev (Kyiv) and received three visitations from the Theotokos telling them to be patient and they’d get pregnant. And sure enough, in the fullness of time (9 months, as usual), little Theodulia was born. She was raised in faith and piety, and her education and beauty soon had potential suitors knocking down the door. (Figuratively.) Finally she was betrothed to Prince Theodore, brother to Alexander Nevsky, who was famous for something. (Irony.) My sources say Ted was forced into the marriage by his father, but he found a way out of it — he died just as the guests began to arrive for the nuptials. “That’s it,” said the bride, “I’m going to a monastery.” And she did, taking the name Euphrosyne.

Euphrosyne was a model nun — smart, insightful, and abstinential. She was visited by our Lord Himself, who encouraged her to be both vigilant and positive. She took this as a command (as, seriously, who wouldn’t?), and fulfilled it to the best of her ability, which is to say, extremely well. She went on to become a source of spiritual insight and instruction to many, giving TED — or rather, EUPH — Talks on love, prayer, obedience, and humility, after which many of her listeners monasticized.

The abbess even went to Euphrosyne for advice, and as a result of her suggestion, divided the monastery into a virgins’ wing and a widows’ wing, for reasons my sources do not make clear. Maybe so the widows could talk about certain stuff without the bother of explaining it to the virgins? At any rate, it was apparently a very good thing, and there was much rejoicing.

The Lord told Euphrosyne about the coming Mongol invasion (in 1238), and through her prayers she saved the monastery, although she could not save the city, which burned down around them. After she died her grave became the locus of many miracles, and she was canonized by Metropolitan Hilarion of Suzdal in 1698.

Hermann von ReichenauBlessed Hermann von Reichenau (1013 – 1054) was born with a list of unfortunate maladies. Unfortunately, nobody can agree on what exactly was on the list. At the very least we know he had a cleft palate, a partially-paralyzing neurological condition, and something wrong with his spine. He could not walk, and had difficulty speaking, and is sometimes called Hermann the Lame (especially by people who can’t pronounce “Reichenau”). When it became impossible for his parents to take care of him (age seven according to one source), they gave him to the monks at the Benedictine monastery on Reichenau, an island in the Bodensee (also named Lake Constance, after the fact that it’s still there).

There he proved that his mind was sharp, whatever the condition of his body. He was a prolific musical composer, and wrote treatises on the science of music, geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy (including instructions for how to build an astrolabe, enabling people to make their own and not depend on expensive imports from The Sharper Image). While not busy with these projects, he composed a history of the first Christian millennium, drawing on multiple chronicles the monks had lying around or could get through interlibrary loan. He also built musical instruments, was literate in Greek, Latin, and maybe Arabic, and was the most famous poet in Europe (his Salve Regina still has legs).

Sadly he went blind later in life and had to give up writing, but if you figure he started writing at 20 (when he was monkified) and went blind at say 30 or 35, he got a good bit done. “Prolific” is almost insultingly understatemental. He was beatified (his cultus was confirmed) in 1863 by Pope Pius IX.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

This Day in History for 25th September
Venerable Euphrosyne of Suzdal (OCA) – Main source
Repose of St Theodore Yaroslavich the older brother of St Alexander Nevsky in Novgorod (OCA)
Image of Euphrosyne from OCA (copyright unknown)
Hermann of Reichenau (Wikipedia) – Main source
Blessed Hermann the Cripple (SQPN)
Image of Hermann from Wikimedia (public domain)


About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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