Commemorated on February 23
Alexander, Founder of the "Unceasing Vigilance" Monastery, was
born in Asia and received his education at Constantinople. He spent some time
in military service but, sensing a calling to other service, he left the world
and accepted monastic vows in one of the wilderness monasteries near Antioch
under the guidance of hegumen Elias. Having advanced bit by bit through the
degrees of monastic obedience, he received blessing from the hegumen to dwell
in the wilderness. The monk pursued asceticism in the wilderness with but the
Holy Gospel, which alone he took with him. Afterwards, the Lord summoned him to
preach to pagans. He converted to the faith the local city-head Rabbul, who
afterwards prospered in the service of the Church, being granted the dignity of
bishop and for all of 30 years he occupied the bishop's cathedra (chair) at the
city of Edessa.
Finally, the monk
Alexander settled not far from the Euphrates River. Monks gathered around him,
attracted by the loftiness of his prayerful asceticism and spiritual
experience. A monastery arose numbering 400 monks. Then the holy hegumen in his
prayerful zeal decided to make at the monastery both by day and by night
never-ceasing praise to the Lord. For three years the holy abba prayed, that
God might reveal to him, whether it should be pleasing to Him to establish such
a monastic rule. And by a Divine revelation it was brought about in the
following manner: all the monks were divided by him into 24 watches of prayer.
Changing shifts each hour, they sang in two choirs both day and night the holy
psalms, with the exceptions when Divine-services were celebrated in church.
Hence the name "Monastery of Unceasing Vigilance", since unceasing
song was offered up by the ascetics to God.
The monk Alexander
guided the monastery on the Euphrates for twelve years. Thereafter, having left
as its hegumen the experienced elder Trophymos, he set off with some chosen
brethren through the cities bordering on Persia, to preach the Gospel and conversion
to spiritual life. Having arrived at Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine
empire, he also established there a monastery with his favoured ustav (rule) of
"unceasing vigilance". The monastic abba died in extreme old age
after fifty years of incessant monastic striving. His death occurred in the
The commemoration of
the Monk Alexander is also celebrated on 3 July.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.