Saint Basilissa

Saint Basilissa had another name, which was Mandana.  She was the wife of the martyr Saint Eudoxius who also had another name, Marinus, and whose feast day is observed on September 6.  Basilissa was not actually martyred, so she does not seem to have her own feast day, (there is one Russian source that says Sept 3, but this could be is a different Bassilissa) but she tried to be martyred and was assured that this did count.

Basilissa and Eudoxius lived around the year 311 during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305) who issued orders for persecution of Christians in 303 and 304.  The orders were rescinded by the emperor Galerius in 311 after he contracted a fatal disease and wished the Christians to pray for him.

A 12th century rendering of Eudoxia

Like many others, Basilissa and Eudoxius fled the persecutions.  Eudoxius,  a military commander in the imperial armies, resigned his high position, abandoned his property, and escaped to Armenian Melitene. The governor of Melitene sent soldiers looking for Eudoxius, who was tortured and killed, along with his friend Zeno, who became Saint Zeno. Basilissa took the body of Eudoxius and buried it at a place called Amimos as requested, and was then arrested by soldiers, but the governor refused to torture her, even though she refused to worship idols.  Then,  she had a vision:

Seven days later, Saint Eudoxius appeared to his wife in a vision and bade her to inform his friend and house steward Macarius, that both he and Saint Zeno awaited the arrival of Macarius. Macarius immediately went to the governor and declared himself a Christian, for which he was sentenced to death and beheaded.

So at this point, Eudoxius and his “companions” Zeno and Macarius are now all saints.

Now I have a feeling there is something missing from the narrative at this point.  Basilissa is now a widow, and since there is a steward involved, she probably has probably inherited some wealth. So the steward is now living with the widow, and possibly in possession of the key to the piggy bank, since that’s what stewards do. Then suddenly the widow says she has a vision, and it is convincing enough for the steward, who has already been ignored by the governor, to turn himself in, again, and get himself executed.

So what really happened?  Did the widow have a #metoo moment that has been lost in the mists of time?  Did she have some problem getting her hands on her inheritance?  And what about the governor?  Did she have to pay him off in order to be set free? Or was the servant given a few extra days reprieve to get the widow’s affairs in order before his own death warrant was carried out–and we are told this was without torture. We will never know, in any case, they are all saints now, and one does not question saints, one only asks them for blessings.


Catholic Online mentions “Eudoxius, Zeno, and Companions”, but not Basilissa. (although some do) and other Roman Catholic sources say they were martyred under Constantius I or put their feast day at September 5 or put their martyrdom under the reign of Diocletian. Some sources mention 1024 or 1124 soldiers put to death (or possibly just the leaders) for throwing away their military belts and refusing to participate in a pagan ritual. “Zeno” is sometimes “Zinon”.

According to St. Nikolai of Zica in “The Prologue of Ohrid”, Basilissa “remained faithful to Christ to the time of her peaceful repose”. In the Russian Orthodox tradition she is “Vasilissa”.

In the Serbian, translated into Bulgarian from the Church-Slavonic text of the lives of the Saints (Жития на светиите), Reading of St. Demetrius Rostovski, she is Василиса. Her husband Eudoxius is Евдоксий.  The companion Zeno is Зинон.  The steward Macarius is Макарий.

In Russian, they are Мученики Евдоксий, Зинон, Макарий , the martyrs Eudoxia, Zinon, Macarius and his wife святой Василиссой (Saint Basilissa). Here they are, but once again without Basilissa.

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