Euphrosyne of Polotsk
|Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk|
Euphrosyne of Polatsk
Mar Saba near Jerusalem
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church|
|Canonized||1984, Belarus by Pope John Paul II|
Euphrosyne of Polotsk (or Polatsk, Połack) (Belarusian: Еўфрасіння Полацкая; 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 Belarusian Orthodox Church, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, a feast that was instituted in the year of her canonization in 1984.
Predslava was born between 1101 and 1104, into the Rurik noble family, members of which were the dukes of the principality of Polotsk, in what is modern day Belarus. Her father was Prince Svyatoslav-Georgy Vseslavich, second son of Vseslav the Sorcerer.
She refused all proposals of marriage and, without her parents' knowledge, ran away to the convent where her aunt was the abbess. She became a nun and took the name Euphrosyne. With the blessing of the Bishop of Polotsk, she began to live near the Sophia cathedral, where she spent her time copying books. The money she thus earned she distributed amongst the poor.
Around 1128 Bishop Elias of Polotsk entrusted Euphrosyne the task of organizing a women's monastery. At the newly constructed Savior-Transfiguration monastery at Seltse she taught the young women to copy books, singing, sewing and other handicrafts. Through her efforts, in 1161, a cathedral was built which survives to the present day. She also founded a men's monastery dedicated to the Mother of God, as well as, two churches. 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.
Euphrosyne (or Efrosinia) of Polotsk is a patron saint of Belarus. In Belarus there is a Convent of Saint Euphrosyne in Polotsk and a Saint Euphrosyne Orthodox Church in Minsk. In addition there are churches dedicated to Euphrosyne of Polotsk in London, Toronto, Vilnius and South River, New Jersey (see: St. Euphrosynia Belarusian Orthodox Church).
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. For the last time, the cross was seen in Mogilev. Despite some efforts of the Belarusian government to trace in the early 1990s the whereabouts of this treasure, which included even searching in private collections in the United States, nothing has been found.
- Kasaty, Peter. "Saint Euphrosyne of Polatsk (1110 - 1173)". Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- "Euphrosyne of Polotsk", Republic of Belarus
- "Euphrosyne Abbes of Polotsk" Church of the Mother of God, Mays Landing, New Jersey
- 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.
- Saint Euphrosyne Orthodox Church, Minsk at orthodox-world.org
- Belarusians in the UK absociety.org.uk
- Official website of the St. Ephrasinia Orthodox Church