January 24: The Wreath of St. Xenia of Rome


Once there was a little girl named Eusebia who lived with her wealthy Roman family in the fifth century. She was a very pious and thoughtful girl who loved and helped everyone she met. When she was seventeen, her well-meaning parents had arranged a marriage for her to a wealthy and prestigious young man, but Eusebia had already promised herself to Christ alone. Her refusal to concede to her parents' plan left everyone very upset and Eusebia thought it best to move far away on her own, so she boarded a boat to a far away land. As she traveled, she met an abbot who escorted her to the city of Milassa where she took the name Xenia, meaning "stranger", and bought some land upon which she built a women's monastery dedicated to St. Stephen. Soon, the bishop of the land made Xenia a deaconess and she spent the rest of her life at the monastery doing even more good deeds for the poor and needy, and happily converting souls to Christ and obtaining healing for the sick by her pious prayers.


One day in the year 450AD, while in prayer, St. Xenia gave her soul completely to God and passed into eternal life. As she ascended to heaven, a miracle occurred. God placed a luminous cross in the sky above the monastery where she lived, much brighter than the sun, for all to see. It was surrounded by a wreath of stars. This beautiful sign of God's favor was said to have remained above the body of the saint, following above her casket as it was carried to the cemetery for burial. Many miracles and healing were attributed to the relics of St. Xenia after her death.



What a wholesome story for our young saints! Such virtue, and such a reward after her death! Perhaps we could partake of her reward a bit too! Let’s make some sugar cookies (your favorite recipe is best, of course!) and shape one like a cross, and the rest like stars! We can arrange them on a serving plate to re-create her symbol in the sky, or use them to top a cake or pie or even a dish of ice cream.



As we bake them, we can speak to the children about the hidden life of St. Xenia, the "stranger". Do we ever feel like strangers among people we know, even sometimes among out family of friends, because of our faith? I imagine that St. Xenia felt that way too. She did so many good deeds for everyone she met and looked for no praise or reward from anyone. I wonder if anyone ever noticed or thanked her. Maybe no one did; but we know that God saw. God noticed all of St. Xenia's good deeds, and he will notice ours too.

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