Saint Alexius of Rome

St. Alexius (d. 417 A.D.) was a native of Rome, the son of a distinguished Roman senator. His parents arranged a marriage for him, but he had a divine calling to a higher vocation. On the night of his wedding, with permission from his fiance, he secretly fled to Edessa in Syria to live in poverty and obscurity as a holy ascetic. He disguised himself as a beggar, unrecognized by all, even accepting alms from his own servants who were sent to look for him. St. Alexius lived in this way for seventeen years. A vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the church near his dwelling identified him as a "Man of God." When the fame of his sanctity spread in Edessa, he moved back to Rome so that he could continue his hidden life. He lived as a beggar under the very stairs of his father's palace, his true identity completely unknown to anyone. He lived in this way for another seventeen years. He was befriended by other Christians, shared his alms with the poor, and taught catechism to children. It was only after his death that his identity was revealed through a document that he secretly carried on his person. He was then venerated as a saint, and his father's palace was converted into a church in his honor. St. Alexius' feast day is July 17.

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