Our venerable Mother, the Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg, (Russian: Святая блаженная Ксения Петербургская [Xenia Grigoryevna Petrova - Ксения Григорьевна Петрова]; who in grief over the death of her husband distributed all her possessions and took up a life as a fool-for-Christ. Her life was centered on God, and she sought protection and comfort only in Him while wandering among the poor of St. Petersburg. She is commemorated on January 6(NS).
Little is known of her early life. Neither the dates of her birth nor of her death are known. Her birth is believed to have been about 1731 and her death about 1803.
The wife of Colonel Andrei Feodorovich Petrov, who served as a court chorister, Xenia fell into great grief upon the death of her husband when she was 26 years old. Appearing to have lost her mind from her grief, Xenia distributed her possessions to the poor, and keeping and dressing only in the clothes of her husband she wandered the streets of St Petersburg among the paupers. She called herself by her husband's name: Andrei Feodorovich. Her life was centered on God, seeking protection and comfort only in Him. During the nights, she refused refuge and went into the fields where she prayed through the nights.
When relatives of Xenia tried to help her with necessities she replied, “I do not need anything.” The people of St. Petersburg came to love her as she placed the Kingdom of Heaven before earthly possessions. The people considered her presence in their homes as good signs. Her acceptance of services and bread from merchants, however small, brought them great sales as their customers, who loved the saintly Xenia, frequented those who helped her.
Xenia possessed the gift of clairvoyance. She foretold the deaths of the Empress Elizabeth, in 1761, and of the imprisoned John IV Antonovich, the great-great-grandson of Tsar Alexis, in 1764. After her death her grave became a place of pilgrimage. Portions of the dirt from her grave brought healing for many of the pilgrims.
The only record of "vital statistics" that has been left to us concerning Blessed Xenia is the epitaph on her gravestone:
- In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Here rests the body of the servant of God, Xenia Grigorievna,
- Wife of the imperial chorister, Colonel Andrei Theodorovich Petrov.
- Widowed at the age of 26, a pilgrim for 45 years,
- She lived a total of 71 years.
- She was known by the name Andrei Theodorovich.
- May whoever knew me pray for my soul that his own may be saved. Amen.
Troparion (Tone 4)
- Having renounced the vanity of the earthly world,
- Thou didst take up the cross of a homeless life of wandering;
- Thou didst not fear grief, privation, nor the mockery of men,
- And didst know the love of Christ.
- Now taking sweet delight of this love in heaven,
- O Xenia, the blessed and divinely wise,
- Pray for the salvation of our souls.
Troparion (Tone 8)
- In you, O mother was carefully preserved what is according to the image.
- For you took up the Cross and followed Christ.
- By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh for it passes away,
- But to care instead for the soul since it is immortal.
- Therefore, O Blessed Xenia, your spirit rejoices with the Angels.
Kontakion (Tone 7)
- Having loved the poverty of Christ,
- You are now being satisfied at the Immortal Banquet.
- By the humility of the Cross, you received the power of God.
- Having acquired the gift of miraculous help, O Blessed Xenia,
- Beseech Christ God, that by repentance
- We may be delivered from every evil thing.
- Life of Blessed St. Xenia of Petersburg
- Wikipedia: Xenia of St. Petersburg
- From the Life published by Holy Trinity Monastery