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Sunday 16 May |
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Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk

Patron Saint of Belarus


Public Domain

Nun (1110-1173)

Her life

+ Predslava was born to a noble family in Polotsk, Poland (in modern-day Belarus).

+ Although her parents wanted her to marry, she desired to dedicate her life to God and she ran away to a convent where one of her aunts was abbess. She became a nun and received the religious name “Euphrosyne.”

+ With the bishop’s blessing, she eventually became a hermit and spent her time copying books, giving the money she earned to the poor.

+ Around 1128, the bishop of Polotsk asked Euphrosyne to establish a new monastery for women. The community was founded and, some years later she also established a men’s monastery. One of the monastic churches she constructed—the Church of the Holy Savior—survives to the present day.

+ Euphrosyne went on pilgrimages to Holy Land and Constantinople where, during her visit, the patriarch entrusted her with an icon of the Mother of God which is now venerated as Our Lady of Korsun.

+ Saint Euphrosyne died in the abbey of Mar Saba, near Jerusalem, and her body was later taken to Kiev. In 1910, her relics were finally returned to Polotsk. She was canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1984 and she is honored as the patron of Belarus.

Spiritual bonus

On May 23, the friars and nuns of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy (the “Mercedarians”) celebrate the memory of 20 Mercedarian friars who were murdered by Huguenots (French Reformed Protestants) in Béziers, France, in 1562.

For reflection

I despised the kingdom of the world and all worldly finery for love of my Lord, Jesus Christ, whom I have seen, whom I have loved, in whom I have believed, in whom has been my delight.”—Entrance Antiphon for the Mass “For a Nun”


O God, who called your handmaid blessed Euphrosyne to seek you before all else, grant that, serving you, through her example and intercession, with a pure and humble heart, we may come at last to your eternal glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Nun)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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