Commemorations for Toba 29
1. The Departure of St. Eksani (St. Xene).
On this day, St. Eksani (St. Xene) departed. She was the daughter of one of the noble and rich families of Rome. She was the only daughter of her parents. She was brought up at an early age accustomed to fasting and prayers, visiting the prisoners and helping the needy.
She used to visit the convents in Rome to spend time in worship. She distributed what she brought with her among the poor and was satisfied with what the nuns ate. She read the biographies of the saints and prayed to God to grant her a share among them.
It happened that one of the ministers of Rome asked for her hand in marriage for his son. Her father was delighted about that and he brought her the best of clothing and the most precious gems and furnishings. Shortly before her wedding, she asked her mother to allow her to go to the monastery to visit her friends the nuns before getting married, in order to bid them farewell, and her mother gave her permission.
She took her precious ornaments and two of her maiden servants, and went quickly to the seashore. She found a ship going to Cyprus, which she embarked on. On her arrival, she went to St. Epiphanius and told him about her story. He advised her to go to the City of Alexandria. She traveled to Alexandria, where she met Anba Theophilus, 23rd Pope of Alexandria. She informed him of her desire to live the monastic life. He agreed and he cut her hair and clothed her in the monastic garb.
She sold all of her jewels and clothes that she brought with her, and built a church in the name of St. Stephen, the Archdeacon. She resided with a group of virgins and nuns that Pope Theophilus settled with her.
She practiced asceticism and strived. She lived only on bread and some moistened vegetables. She did not eat any cooked food, and she slept on the ground. She struggled in that manner for more than 20 years.
When she departed, God manifested a sign in heaven to reveal the heavenly blessings that she received. At midday, a cross of light, whose light exceeded that of the sun, appeared in heaven, and around it a circle of stars that shone like crowns. The cross remained shining until her body was buried with the other saintly virgins, then it disappeared. The people knew that the appearance of the cross was to manifest her virtue.
Later on, the two maiden servants told the Pope her real story and how she had a covenant with them to conceal her story and to call her sister. The Pope marvelled, glorified God, and he wrote her biography.
Her prayers be with us. Amen.