Venerable Euphrosyne of Suzdal

Saint Euphrosyne, Princess of Suzdal, was born in the year 1212. In holy Baptism she was given the name Theodoulia and she was the eldest daughter of the holy Martyr Michael, Great-prince of Chernigov (September 20). Prince Michael and his wife Theophania did not have children and they often visited the Kiev Caves monastery, where they prayed the Lord to grant them children. Princess Euphrosyne was their first daughter, sent from God in answer to their prayer. Three times the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to them and said that their prayer had been heard and that the Lord would grant them a daughter.

Theodulia was raised in deep faith and piety. The educated noble Theodore (September 20) had a large influence on her upbringing. The education and uncommon beauty of the princess attracted many.

The princess was betrothed to holy Prince Theodore (June 5), a brother of St Alexander Nevsky, but he died on the very day of his wedding. The princess withdrew to the Suzdal women’s monastery named in honor of the Placing of the Robe of the Mother of God, where she was tonsured with the name Euphrosyne, in honor of St Euphrosyne of Alexandria.

While still a young nun she fulfilled the monastic rule of life with an amazing zeal, and she remarkably surpassed the other residents of the monastery in her firmness of reason, spiritual insight and extreme abstinence. The Lord Himself visited the ascetic, commanding her to be vigilant and positive in her efforts. St Euphrosyne, to the very end of her life, kept the commandments of the Savior, and overcame countless temptations.

The extraordinary ascetic life of St Euphrosyne became known at Suzdal and beyond its borders. A multitude of people visited the monastery, in order to listen to the instructions of the nun Euphrosyne concerning love, prayer, obedience and humility.

Often after such talks, many accepted the monastic schema and began a more zealous service to God. The abbess of the monastery herself had recourse to the counsels of the nun. At the request of the ascetic, the sisters of the monastery were divided into two halves: virgins and widows. This facilitated the spiritual growth and strengthening of the sisters of the monastery in purity. After the death of the abbess, St Euphrosyne became Superior of the monastery.

The Lord foretold to the holy abbess her father’s martyrdom, and also the Mongol-Tatar invasion of Rus. In the year 1238, vast Tatar-Mongol hordes did actually descend upon the Russian realm. Destroying everything in their path, they came to Suzdal. The city was completely devastated and burned by them, and only the monastery of St Euphrosyne was spared through her prayers.

St Euphrosyne fell asleep in the Lord on September 25, 1250. At her grave believers were healed of various maladies. On September 18, 1698, with the blessing of Patriarch Adrian, Metropolitan Hilarion of Suzdal glorified the nun Euphrosyne as a saint.