January 1 : St. Euphrosyne

Euphrosyne, virgin (fifth century )

Died 470. A religious fiction makes Euphrosyne the daughter of wealthy Paphnutius in Alexandria, Egypt, born after many years of his childless marriage. She was betrothed to a wealthy young man but began to give her possessions to the poor. While her father was on retreat, she consulted with an old monk whose prayers had reputedly brought about her birth, and he gave her the veil. Fearful of her father's reaction, she donned men's clothing, became a monk at the monastery her father frequented, and took the name Smaragdus. Euphrosyne became famous for her holiness and spiritual wisdom. She was consulted by her father, who did not recognize her, and she did not reveal her identity to him until she was dying. After her death, her father became a monk and lived in her cell for 10 years.

This story appears to be only a replica of similar stories, e.g., Saints Pelegia and Eugenia. It is doubtful whether Saint Euphrosyne ever existed (Benedictines, Delaney). In art, she is depicted as the maiden companion of Saint Ursula. She holds a green branch, wreath, and a book (Roeder).