Saint Alexius was the only son of parents pre-eminent among the Roman nobles for wealth, birth, and virtue. On his wedding-night, by God’s special inspiration, he secretly quitted Rome, and journeying to Edessa in the far East, gave away all that he had brought with him, content thenceforth to live on alms at the gate of our Lady’s Church in that city. After seventeen years, when his sanctity was miraculously manifested by the Blessed Virgin’s image, he once more sought obscurity by flight. On his way to Tarsus contrary winds drove his ship to Rome. There no one recognised in the wan and tattered mendicant the heir of Rome’s noblest house; not even his sorrowing parents, who had vainly sent throughout the world in search of him. From his father’s charity he begged a mean corner of his palace as a shelter, and the leavings of his table as food. Thus he spent seventeen years, bearing patiently the mockery and ill-usage of his own slaves, and witnessing daily the inconsolable grief of his spouse and parents. At last, when death had ended this cruel martyrdom, they learned too late, from a writing in his own hand, who it was that they had unknowingly sheltered. God bore testimony to His servant’s sanctity by many miracles. He died early in the fifth century.
We must always be ready to sacrifice our dearest and best natural affections in obedience to the call of our Heavenly Father. “Call none your father upon earth, for one is your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9) Our Lord has taught us this not by words only, but by His own example and by that of His saints.
O God, who hast made Blessed Alexins, Thy confessor, wonderful in his contempt for the world: grant, we beseech Thee, that, by the help of his intercession, Thy faithful ones may despise earthly things and ever aspire after heavenly things. Amen. — Breviary
It came to pass that the servants of Saint Alexius, whom his father sent in search of him, Arrived at Edessa, and seeing him among the poor at the gate of Our Lady’s Church, gave him an alms, not recognising him. Whereupon the man of God, rejoicing, said, “I thank Thee, O Lord, who hast called me and granted that I should receive for Thy name’s sake an alms from my own slaves. Deign to fulfil in me the work Thou hast begun.”
Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? Knew ye not that I must be about My Father’s business? – Luke 2:47,48
- Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Saint Alexius”. , 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 27 February 2015. Web. 30 April 2017. <>