Saint Theophania the Empress came from a devout and noble family of Constantinople, Constantine and Anna, who were kin to several emperors.
Her parents were childless for a long time and prayed to the Most-holy Theotokos to give them an offspring. And God gave them this daughter, Theophania.
Imbued with the Christian spirit from her childhood, Theophano surpassed all her companions in all the Christian virtues.
When she grew up, she entered into marriage with Leo [886–911], the son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian.
She endured great hardships alongside her husband.
Responding to slander – that Leo carried a knife in his boot and planned to kill his father at an opportune time – the gullible father, Basil, locked his son and daughter-in-law in prison.
Thus, two innocent souls languished in prison for three years.
Once, during the Feast of the Prophet Elias, the emperor summoned all his noblemen to his court for a banquet. Suddenly the emperor’s parrot unexpectedly spoke these words, “Alas, alas, my Lord Leo”! and repeated these words a number of times.
This brought great anxiety to all of the imperial noblemen, and they all begged the emperor to release his son and daughter-in-law. The grieved emperor did so.
Remarkably, while Saint Theophania was born into an aristocratic house and married into the imperial palace, she always led an ascetic life. Hymnography recalls how she renounced earthly riches, leading instead a life of prayer and almsgiving.
After his father’s death, Leo became emperor and was called “the Wise”.
Saint Theophania did not consider her imperial dignity as anything, but, completely devoted to God, she cared only about the salvation of her soul, fasting and praying, distributing many alms, and restoring many monasteries and churches.
Neither an untrue word nor an excessive word nor, least of all, slander proceeded from her lips.
Before her death she called all her closest friends, took leave of them and gave up her soul to her God in the year 892.
The Emperor Leo wanted to build a church over her grave in her name, but since the patriarch objected to this, he built a church to All Saints, saying that if Saint Theophania became a saint, she would be Glorified together with the other Saints.
The Feast of All Saints was then instituted to be celebrated on the Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Saint Nikolai Velimirovich
The Relics of Saint Theophania
Like icons, relics are a central aspect of Orthodox Christian worship. The theology of relics is grounded in the Orthodox doctrine of deification, or Theosis, namely the Sanctification of
the entire human Person—Body and Soul.
They underline the fullness of the Transfiguration of the material world by Divine Grace and serve as a reminder of the essential Unity between the living Church and the Church Triumphant.
They are normally enshrined in elaborately crafted containers, or reliquaries, displayed for veneration and commemoration by the faithful.
Evidence for the preservation and veneration of sacred relics dates back to at least the mid-second century.
Popular veneration of relics further contributed to the unity of the Church during the Byzantine era.
The relics of three women saints of the Church are preserved intact in a row of reliquaries to the right of the Column of Flagellation in the Saint George Church of the Phanar.
Those of Saint Theophania are in the first reliquary.
Apolytikion – 4th Tone
Preferring heavenly things unto the earthly,
thou while on earth didst live the life of the Angels,
raised up on godly longing, O Theophania.
Wherefore, thou hast been vouchsafed Heaven’s graces and visions,
standing with the Angels’ hosts and the Saints’ fair assemblies before the King of all,
Whom thou didst love; pray Him to grant us His mercy and blessedness.
Kontakion – 4th Tone
As we celebrate today thy radiant feast-day, O divine Theophania,
we cry with rev’rence unto thee:
Preserve thy servants, who sing thy praise,
from every manner of peril and suffering.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Theophania the Empress
From a royal throne, it is better seen:
The vanity of the world, clever vanity,
And the imperial throne is mercilessly struck
By the tumultuous waves of this world.
Theophania clearly examines
The insane, open sea of this world,
And her heart, her troubled heart,
Is firmly anchored to the Living God.
The kings of this world-are they kings?
They are but many sentries on a quick rotation!
Death counts and carries out the change of these sentries-
Kings of the world: passing shadows!
Theophania, like the wise virgins,
The lamp of her heart lit by the spirit,
Illumined the path with a wonderful light,
Happily avoiding the pits of sin.
Now blessed in the Eternal Kingdom,
Among the stars, and shining like one,
Where there is no pain or change,
Theophania now reigns.