SAINTS

JULY 17: ST. ALEXIS

(4th century)
Who would think that a saint would have something in common with Harry Potter?
Today’s saint lived under the stairs in his family home just like the famous hero of the J. K. Rowling’s famous series.
St. Alexis belonged to an important family of Rome. As a youth he devoted himself to the service of God, and even wore a hair shirt under his rich refinement. When he came of age, his parents chose a beautiful bride for him, but he disappeared on the morning he was to be married.
That morning he went to his betroth’s room and gave her a ring of gold, a girdle of precious stones and a purple veil, all symbols of a well-to-do Roman bride. Then he took off for parts unknown. The entire household went into mourning.
Alexis made his way to Mesopotamia, where for many years (17) he ministered to the sick and lived in great poverty and humility. After a long absence he returned to his father’s house. They older gentleman did not even recognize him. Taking pity on this “stranger,” he took him in, and the servants put him in a hole under the stairs.
After some time (17 more years), Alexis’ identity was revealed to his father in a dream. The old man went to check on him, but by that time Alexis had died of neglect and hunger. Today, Alexis is the patron of pilgrims and beggars. A church dedicated to him in Rome stands on the site of his father’s home. Pictures of St. Alexis are frequently seen in hospitals and refuges for the poor.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini