History of St. Alexis


Saint Alexis

Patron of beggars and pilgrims, feast day on July 17


Symbols: A beggar or pilgrim holding a staircase (his emblem); asleep by the stairs, dirty water emptied on him; as a pilgrim with a staff and scrip; as a pilgrim, kneeling before the pope, to whom he gives a letter.


Saint Alexis was the only son of a rich Roman senator.  From his good Christian parents, he learned to be charitable to the poor.  St. Alexis wanted to give up his wealth and honors but his parents had chosen a rich bride for him.  Because it was their will, he married her.  Yet on his wedding day, he obtained her permission to leave her for God.  Then, in disguise, he traveled to Syria in the East and lived in great poverty near a Church of Our Lady.

One day, after seventeen years, a picture of our Blessed Mother spoke to tell the people that this beggar was very holy.  She called him, "The man of God."  When he became famous, which was the last thing he wanted, he fled back to Rome.  He came as a beggar to his own home.  His parents did not recognize him, but they were very kind to all poor people and so they let him stay there.  In a corner under the stairs, St. Alexis lived for seventeen years.

He used to go out only to pray in church and to teach little children about God.  The servants were often very mean to him, and though he could have ended all these sufferings just by telling his father who he was, he chose to say nothing.  What great courage and strength of will that took!

After St. Alexis died, his family found a note on his body which told them who he was and how he had lived his life of penance from the day of his wedding until then, for love of God.

The life of Saint Alexis reminds us that appearances are not what is important to the Lord, but rather the holy fire burning within the heart and soul of the faithful.