St Theophano the Empress.

Commemorated December 16 in the Orthodox Christian Menaion

From the Prologue

She was born of eminent parents, Constantine and Anna, who were kin to several Emperors. Her parents were for a long time childless, and besought the Mother of God to give them a family. God gave them this daughter, Theophano. Imbued with a Christian spirit right from her youth, Theophano outstripped her companions in every Christian virtue. When she had grown up, she entered into marriage with Leo, the son of the Emperor Basil the Macedonian, and endured much misfortune alongside her husband. Reacting to the slander that Leo carried a knife in his breast with which, at the right opportunity, to kill his father, the Ilible Basil shut his son and daughter-in-law up in prison, and these two innocent souls spent three years there. Then, one day, on the feast of the holy prophet Elias, the Emperor summoned all his nobles to court for a feast. At one moment, the Emperor's parrot suddenly spoke these words: 'Alack, alack, my Lord Leo!', and it repeated these words a number of times. This caused great confusion among the courtiers, and they all begged the Emperor to release his son and daughter-in-law. The Emperor was touched, and did so. After his father's death, this Leo became Emperor, being called 'the Wise'. Theophano did not consider her imperial dignity to be of much account, but, being utterly given to God, she gave thought to the salvation of her soul, fasting and praying and giving alms, founding monasteries and churches. No lying word ever passed her lips, nor any unnecessary speech or the least slander. At the time of her death, she called together her closest friends and took leave of them, then gave her soul to God, in 892. The Emperor Leo wanted to build a church over her grave, and, when the Patriarch refused to allow this, built the church of All Saints, saying that, if Theophano were a saint, she would be glorified together with the others. At that time, the feast of All Saints was introduced, to be celebrated on the Sunday after the feast of the Holy Trinity.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
©1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK

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