by Bishop Gregory of Mesaoria
Today, our Church commemorates the Holy Irene the Empress, later Nun Xeni.
Saint Irene lived in the 12th century AD. and had various virtues. This was noticed by Emperor Alexios Komnenos and so he married her with his son John, so called Good-Ioannis, because of his many gifts.
The virtuous Empress Irene spent generously on charities. She took advantage of the opportunities she had and built nursing homes and hostels, and left large sums of money for their safe and comfortable maintenance.
But then she experienced great tribulations. Her husband died in an expedition to Syria in 1143 AD. Later, the same thing happened to both of her four children. Then Irene wanted to find relief in her sorrows in solitary life.
Thus, with the consent of the king’s son Manuel, she withdrew to the monastery of Pantocrator, where she became a nun, renamed Xeni. There she found her death and was buried with as much simplicity as she wished. Shortly before she died she was saying that “Queen Irene had died long ago”, and only Xeni remained.
Source: Church of Cyprus