The rare title, "Man of God," was bestowed on St Alexios for the manner in which he gave his whole self, and sacrificed everything for Jesus Christ, forsaking a bride even at the altar in order to fulfil the will of the Lord.
St Alexios was born in 380 AD in the city of Rome during the reign of Theodosios the Great and was raised in a royal household by his loving parents, Ephemios and Aglaia. The couple were childless for a number of years, and constantly prayed to the Lord to grant them a child. Answering their fervent prayers, God granted them their son, Alexios. Though they realised their son (as a young man) had a divine calling to serve God and His Church, they could not stand the thought of losing him. Consequently, they sought to discourage him from this, and arranged for his marriage. In respecting his parents wishes, he reluctantly suppressed the call he felt to the Lord's service and agreed to the marriage, until he had a vision of St Paul, who said he should answer this call to God at all costs, proclaiming the words "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37)
The bewildered Alexios was torn between his sense of duty to his parents and the urge to serve the Lord. With much thought, he decided to go through with what he had promised his family. However, as he stood before the altar as the wedding ceremony came to a close, he looked upon the Cross of Jesus Christ, and walked away from his bride, family and friends in order to answer and fulfil God's will and calling.
After eighteen years in a Syrian Monastery, Alexios was transformed into a respected and holy man, whose solemn and strong dedication to Christ was recognised by the wider monastic community. Unlike other monks, he was a man of few words, and left preaching and speeches to other brothers, while he concentrated on writing on the Christian Faith.
Saint Alexios had a great urge to visit Tarsus, the birthplace of Saint Paul. The boat he travelled on to reach his desired destination went through a violent storm, blowing the vessel off course and in serious danger. A passing ship, on route to Rome, picked him up - and he found himself back in the city of his birth. He returned to his family estate, where he (albeit anonymously) served his family and many others as a spiritual father and guide.
He went about his duties in Rome with grace, acquiring respect and admiration from many families in the area. When he felt death drawing near, Saint Alexios movingly expressed his great love towards his family, by leaving a letter. The letter was read and appreciated by his family, as well as by the bishop of Rome, who had him buried in the chapel of St Peter. He died in Christ on the 17th of March 440AD, after thirty-four years of celibacy and devotion to our Lord Who 'shall reign for ever and ever.' (Exodus 15:18)
Saint Alexios, 'the Man of God,' who's name I unworthily bear, is an example to us all, as he did not conform to the world, but was transformed by Christ (Rom 12:1-2) by accepting, and living by God's holy will.
- The head of St Alexios was given as a gift to the Great Lavra Monastery of Mount Athos, by the Emperor Emmanuel Paleologos in 1398.
- 'St Alexios, Man of God', by Fr George Poulos, from Orthodox Saints v.2, Holy Cross Orthodox Press.
- oca.org ( Orthodox Church in America )