Saints and Their Symbols – Saint Alexis

detail of a stained glass window depicting the discovery of the death of Saint Alexius of Rome, date unknown, artist unknown; Church of Saint Sulpice, Bugue, Dordogne, France; photographed on 15 September 2012 by Father Igor; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

A.D. 400, July 17, patron saint of pilgrims and beggars, was a rich Roman noble, who in his earliest childhood dedicated himself to God, and was noted for his holiness and charity. His parents were anxious that he should marry, and chose for him a beautiful bride. He dared not disobey them, yet he had made a vow to serve God alone, so he allowed the marriage to be celebrated in great pomp, and immediately afterwards escaped, only saying farewell to his bride. He fled to Mesopotamia, where the fame of his good deeds caused him to be regarded as a saint. Therefore, fearing for his humility, he departed and embarked in a ship, intending to go to Tarsus, but the vessel was driven by storms back to his own country. All the time of his absence his wife and parents had been seeking him vainly, but now that he’ had returned he was so altered that he could not be recognized. He even begged of his own father, Euphemian, who, thinking of his lost son, possibly in as miserable a condition, ordered his servants to provide for him. They, however, ill-treated the supposed beggar, and only allowed him to live in a hole under the steps. Here he lived several years; and though he suffered many indignities, and was in constant hearing of his relations mourning for his loss, he remained firm in his original resolution. At last, when he felt he was dying, he wrote his own history and laid it in his bosom. Just at that time the Pope, during the celebration of Mass, heard a voice telling him to seek in the house of Euphemian for the man of God who should pray for Home. Then he and all present, among whom was Euphemian himself, hurried to the house, and there found Alexis lying on the steps, dead, with the writing in his hand and a light shining from his face, and they knew that this was the servant of God of whom the voice spoke. Great was the astonishment of his parents when they read the writing and learned his strange history; and as the people heard of it they flocked to visit his relics, at which all who had any diseases were healed. The church of Saint Alexis was built on the site of his father’s house, and still encloses the steps on which he died. His great sufferings and patience have won for Saint Alexis the title of martyr, though he did not actually die a violent death. Emblems – Old and very ragged beggar with a dish. Dish. Old man dressed as a pilgrim. Cross. Palm.

MLA Citation

  • E A Greene. “Saint Alexis”. Saints and Their Symbols, 1909. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 October 2015. Web. 25 February 2021. <>