Commemorated on April 12
St. Anthusa of Constantinople was the daughter of Iconoclast Emperor Constantine Copronymos and his first wife. She and her brother, the future Emperor Leo the Khazar, were twins born on January 25, 750. The empress suffered with their birth. Constantine summoned Abbess Anthusa of Mantinea from prison and asked for her prayers. The abbess predicted the birth of the twins and their fate, and the daughter was named in her honor.
When Anthusa became of age, the emperor urged her to marry. However, from her youth, St. Anthusa yearned for monasticism and would not agree to her father’s demands. After the death of her father, she used all her personal property to help the poor and the orphaned. The devout Empress Irene, wife of Leo the Khazar, regarded St. Anthusa with love and esteem and invited her to be her co-regent. However, St. Anthusa did not desire worldly honors. Being at court, she wore clothes befitting her position as the emperor’s daughter, but underneath her finery she wore a hair-shirt.
St. Anthusa was tonsured by the holy Patriarch Tarasius. She founded the Omonia Monastery at Constantinople, known for its strict rule. She was an example of humility doing hard work, cleaning the church and carrying water. She never sat at the table during meals, but instead served the sisters. She saw to it that no one left the monastery without a special need.
The humble and gentle ascetic lived to the age of fifty-two, and died peacefully in 801.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )