Having served the True Orthodox of the Island of Aegina for six months, Saint Athanasia of Aegina remains in my heart.
St. Athanasia who is celebrated today (April 18) by the Orthodox Church was born on the island of Aegina in the ninth century. Her parents, Nicetas and Irene were pious Orthodox Christians.
Her parents married her to a man against her will. Not many days after her wedding, her husband was killed by barbaric pirates that surrounded the local islands during that time.
Athanasia, seeing that she was now a widow, wanted to fulfill her heart’s desire to become a nun. At that time, however, a royal order reached Aegina forcing all single women and widows to marry pagans. Again against her own will, Athanasia married a second time.
Athanasia continued to pray unceasingly and gave alms to the poor struggling for her salvation. In a while, she was able to convince her husband to become a Christian and a monk. Her former husband grew in virtue and in a short time the Lord called him to eternal life.
Then St. Athanasia gave her wealth to the poor and with other pious women founded an ascetical place near an ancient church dedicated to the First Martyr St. Stephen where they all lived a strict life of fasting and prayer.
After four years, Athanasia was made the abbess of this place but she departed with other women to an unknown place so that they could continue their asceticism. They lived by the work of their hands.
From there she traveled to Constantinople where she lived an ascetical life for 7 years. After returning home, 12 days before her death she felt the end of her earthly life coming and told this to her nuns and gave thanks to the Lord. She made sure that an abbess was elected for the good of her sisterhood.
On the day of her death, she called her nuns to her and told them words of consolation and begged them to remain as one soul and one heart. She then chanted with her nuns, and having confessed and received Holy Communion the day before, she gave up her pure soul into the hands of her Creator, assuring her nuns that she would await them in the Kingdom of Heaven.
News of her death brought many of the inhabitants of the island to her hermitage. There they knelt before her holy relic, crying and mourning the loss of the aid and the comforting words they had received from this holy mother. At the time of her burial, many sick were healed.