Lives of Holy Women

Holy Alexandra

Alexandra abandoned the world when she was just a young girl and closed herself in a tomb. She survived by eating whatever was available through a hole in the tomb. She did not see anyone, man or woman, for ten years, and on the tenth year, after she positioned herself appropriately, she died. One woman, Melania, who would visit her occasionally, realised that the holy woman was dead when she did not receive an answer from within the tomb.

Melania said about her: “ I never saw her face, and one time, when I stood near the hole, I asked her to tell me the reason she closed herself in the tomb. She told me that a certain young man had fallen madly in love with her and in order not to upset him or scandalize him in any way, she disappeared and hid in this tomb. I then asked her how she could stand being closed in the tomb and she answered, ‘ From the morning until 3 in the afternoon I pray continuously whilst I weave. During the rest of the day I contemplate about the Prophets, the Apostles and the Martyrs. After I eat, I wait patiently for my death with hope in God.’ ”


A young man set out to visit his sister who lived in a convent. She was sick and he was concerned for health. She was a very faithful monastic who never received male visitors and did not want to be the reason for a male to enter the convent and be amongst the other nuns. She sent him a message saying: “ Go, my brother, and pray for me, and with the Grace of Christ, we will meet in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

One Father told us the following story: A nun in a convent in Thessaloniki fell into temptation and left her monastery and led a life of prostitution. When, after a long time, and with the help of God, she repented, she returned to her convent and as soon as she reached the front gates, she fell down and died.

Her death was revealed to a certain saint who saw angels descend and receive her soul and demons following and conversing with the angels. The holy angels said, “ She has come repented.” The demons however responded, “ She was working with us for so long and therefore she is ours. She didn’t even reach the convent so how can you say that she repented?” The angels answered, “ From the moment she decided to turn towards God, the Lord accepted her repentance. She had control of her repentance because she gave herself an goal, to return to her monastery. The Lord, now, has control of her soul.” With this last statement the demons disappeared in shame.

The saint then narrated this vision to certain monastics and told them, “ Let us guard ourselves with the help of God, without giving in to thoughts and to sin. Let us courageously fight and above all never leave our monastery. Although we know out departure point, we are never aware of our destination.”

Two great Fathers were returning to their Skete when they heard a moaning sound coming from the rocky face of the mountain. After a long search they found an entrance to a cave and saw an elderly nun lying in it. When they saw that she was alone in the cave and sick they asked her, “ When did you come here Eldress, and who looks after you?” She answered, “ I have been here 38 years, with a few vegetables, serving Christ, and until today, have not seen anyone. God has sent you here so you can bury my body.” And with that, she gave up her soul to God. The fathers glorified God, buried the Eldress and departed.

A certain monk was walking when he noticed a group of nuns approaching; he therefore crossed the road so as to avoid them. The Abbess seeing this said to him, “ You did well my child, because your weakness, but if you were a perfect monk you would not have even noticed that we were women.”

Holy Damiani

Mother Damiani told us the following: Every Friday, before I became a recluse, I would go to the church of Sts Kosmas and Damianos and would spend the entire night there. An old woman would also come every night, giving everyone there, including myself, 2 coins each. One time, my niece came to pray who was also the niece of the faithful king, Mavrikios. I took her with me to the church of Sts Kosmas and Damianos and told her to accept whatever money the old woman might give her. My niece found this strange and asked me, “ So, are you telling me to take the old woman’s money?” “Yes,” I answered. “Take it because this woman is very holy because all week she shares her money with whomever is in the church. She is an 80 year old widow, so take the money and then in turn you can give it to somebody else. But don’t deny the old woman her sacrifice.” As we were talking the old woman approached us and very quietly, gave us 2 coins each. When she placed the money in my niece’s hand she told her, “Take this money and eat.” When she left we realised that God had revealed my words, “give it to somebody else” to her. My niece immediately bought some beans and ate them. She marvelled as she said, “The beans are as sweet as honey!” We all glorified God who grants His grace to His servants.

Holy Isidora

There lived in a certain monastery the nun, Isidora, who was a fool for Christ. She acted foolishly before the other 400 nuns so as to hide her real virtues and therefore to receive the crown of humility. No one ever saw her eat, they only saw her cleaning the trapeza and washing the saucepans. She never uttered a word against anyone, never spoke idly, despite the way the others treated her. They would often beat her, spit at her and mock her because they thought she was a fool and wasting her time at the monastery.

Meanwhile, an angel appeared to Saint Pitiroum, a great ascetic, and said to him, “Why do you consider yourself to be reverent, just because you are living in the desert? Do you want to meet a woman who has more reverence than you? Go to the convent of Tavvenisioton and you will find a nun who wears a rag around her head. She is greater than you. She always has to contend with so many people and yet her heart has never departed from God. You live her in isolation and yet your mind wanders in the cities.”

St Pitiroum therefore, who had never before left his cell, received a blessing from his spiritual guide and visited the convent. Upon his arrival he asked to see all the nuns. St Isidora, however did not appear. “I said I wanted to see all the nuns. one is missing.” “There is one in the kitchen.” The other nuns replied. “But she is crazy.” “Bring her to me,” ordered the saint. The nuns had to literally drag Isidora out of the kitchen and bring her before St Pitiroum. As soon as the saint saw her and recognised the rag on her head he fell to his knees and asked for her blessing. She too did the same and asked for his blessing. The nuns were amazed at this sight and pleaded with the saint not to ridicule himself before this ‘fool’. St Pitiroum however, sternly warned them, “You are the ones who are fools. She is your and my mother (amma) and I hope that I will be found equally worthy on the day of Judgement.” The nuns fell on their knees in repentance and confessed, one by one, all their unjust actions towards Isidora. The saint prayed for them and departed.

A few days later Saint Isidora secretly left the monastery. She felt she could not stay in a place where she was receiving glory and apologies from her sisters. No one knows where she went or how she died.