St. Euphrosyne, Abbess of Polotsk, was named Predslava in the world, and was the daughter of Prince George Vseslavich. From her childhood she was known for her love of prayer and book learning. After turning down a proposal of marriage, Predslava received monastic tonsure with the name Euphrosyne. With the blessing of Bishop Elias of Polotsk, she began to live near the Sophia Cathedral, where she copied books.
Around 1128, Bishop Elias entrusted St. Euphrosyne with the task of organizing a women’s monastery. Setting out for Seltso, the site of the future monastery, she took only her holy books. At the newly constructed Savior-Transfiguration Monastery, the saint taught the girls to copy books, as well as singing, sewing and other handicrafts.
Through her efforts, a cathedral was built in 1161, which survives to the present day. St. Euphrosyne also founded a men’s monastery dedicated to the Mother of God. Patriarch Luke of Constantinople sent a copy of the wonderworking Ephesus Icon of the Mother of God at her request. Shortly before her death, St Euphrosyne journeyed on pilgrimage to the Holy Places with her nephew, David, and sister, Eupraxia.
After venerating the holy places in Constantinople, she arrived in Jerusalem, where at the Russian Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos the Lord granted her a peaceful end on May 24, 1173.
In 1187, St. Euphrosyne’s body was transferred to the Kiev Caves Monastery. In 1910, her relics were transferred to Polotsk to the monastery she founded.
St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk was glorified in the Russian Church as a patroness of women’s monasticism.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )