2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.

The Ecole

The Ecole Glossary

Alexis, Man of God

The story of St. Alexis, once known simply as the Man of God, came to Rome in the X Century, when Benedict VII gave a church dedicated to St. Boniface to a group of exiled Eastern Christians under the leadership of Metropolitan Sergius of Damascus. They renamed the church Sts. Boniface and Alexis and placed relics of the Man of God in the church. The bones found in the church in the XIII Century are now considered to have been neither Boniface's nor Alexis'.

Eastern legends say that Alexis was the son of a Roman senator. On his wedding night, he and his wife agreed to part, and he sailed for Edessa, where he lived 17 years as a beggar. A statue of the Virgin Theotokos at a neaby church is said to have identified him as a man of God, and he, in humility and embarrassment, fled to Rome. His father gave the son he did not recognize menial employment and allowed him to live in the atrium of his house. After 17 years, Alexis died. An autobiography revealed his identity as the senator's son, and a mysterious voice again identified him as a man of God.

An epic poem of the XI Century tells the legend of the saint, whose popularity had spread through Western Christendom, and c. 1350, a lay nursing order, the Alexian Brothers, took him as their patron. Modern scholars now believe that the Man of God lived and died in Edessa in the V Century and the name Alexis is a Greek addition.


Karen Rae Keck


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