Euphrosyne of Polatsk
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|Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk|
Euphrosyne of Polatsk
Mar Saba near Jerusalem
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church|
|Canonized||1984, Belarus by Pope John Paul II|
Euphrosyne (also Eŭfrasińnia, Efrasinnia) of Polotsk (or Polatsk, Połack) (Belarusian: Эўфрасі́ньня По́лацкая) (1110–1173) was the granddaughter of a prince of Polotsk, Vseslav, and daughter of Prince Svyatoslav of Polotsk. She is one of the 15 patron saints of Belarus, whose lives are celebrated in the Russian Orthodox Church of Belarus, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, a feast that was instituted in the year of her canonisation in 1984.
Euphrosyne was born into the Rurik noble family, members of which were the dukes of the principality of Polotsk, in what is modern day Belarus. There appears to be some confusion as to whether Vseslav of Polotsk or his son, Svyatoslav, was her father; however, dating seems to suggest Svyatoslav as the father.
She refused all proposals of marriage and, without her parents' knowledge, ran away to the convent of which her aunt was the abbess and became a nun. Later she founded her own convent at Seltse. She spent her time copying books, and the money she thus earned she distributed amongst the poor. She also built two churches, and one, the church of The Holy Saviour, still stands today and is considered to be the most precious monument of early Belarusian architecture.
Towards the end of her life, she undertook a pilgrimage to Constantinople and the Holy Land. Patriarch Michael II of Constantinople gave her an icon of the Theotokos, which is now called the Virgin of Korsun. The Crusader king, Amalric I of Jerusalem, also received her in the Holy Land. There she died about 1173. Her body, after the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, was carried by the monks to Kiev and deposited there in the Monastery of the Caves. It was only in 1910 that the relics of the saint were brought back to her native town of Polatsk. Her feast day is celebrated on May 23. Euphrosyne is the only virgin saint of East Slav origin.
Cross of Saint Euphrosyne
The cross of Saint Euphrosyne was a splendid gem-studded cross created at her behest by a local master, Lazar Bohsa (Belarusian: Лазар Богша). The famous six-armed golden cross was decorated with enamels and precious stones and presented by her to the church of the Holy Saviour in 1161. Of exquisite beauty, the relic survived centuries of turbulence until World War II, when it mysteriously disappeared during the evacuation of the museum in 1941. Most probably it was stolen by a Soviet soldier, or possibly by a German. In its attempts to trace the whereabouts of this treasure, the government of the Republic of Belarus has looked virtually everywhere, examining even private collections in the United States.
- "Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk". Saints.SQPN.com. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- Kasaty, Peter. "Saint Euphrosyne of Polatsk (1110 - 1173)". Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- Keck, Karen Rae. "Euphrosyne of Polotsk". The Ecole Glossary. The Ecole Initiative. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- (Greek) Ἡ Ὁσία Εὐφροσύνη. 23 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
- Venerable Euphrosyne the Abbess of Polotsk. OCA - Feasts and Saints.