The Eleventh Day of the Month of September
The Commemoration of the
Venerable Euphrosynus the Cook
From The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints
Volume 1: September
compiled by St. Demetrius of Rostov
Our holy monastic father Euphrosynus was born of simple parents although he surpassed even those of noble lineage in good works. For there are many who are devoid of good works, despite their noble birth, and so are cast down into Hades while the simple in their humility are lifted up to paradise by God as was the godly Euphrosynus. Because of his virtuous life he was translated to paradise, as we will see, and was shown to be an inhabitant there.
Euphrosynus lived in a monastery where he served the brethren, laboring in the kitchen and serving them with great humility and submissiveness as though they were not men but God Himself. He labored in obedience day and night, but he never left off praying and fasting. His patience was inexpressible. He bore much abuse and disparagement and suffered frequent vexations. Scorched by the material fire of the cookstove, he was warmed by the spiritual fire of the love of God, and his heart burned with longing for the Lord. While passing his days preparing food for the brethren, he at the same time prepared a table for himself in the kingdom of God by his virtuous life, where he would eat his fill with those of whom it is said, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. He served the Lord secretly so that he might be rewarded by Him openly, even as it came to pass.
The Lord’s reward to His servant was made manifest in the following manner. A certain priest who lived in the same monastery prayed fervently to the Lord that He reveal to him the things which are prepared for them that love Him. One night he had a vision. It seemed to him that he was standing in a garden, and as he considered the unutterable beauty of this garden, he saw Euphrosynus, the monastery’s cook, walking by. The priest approached him and asked, "Brother Euphrosynus, what is this place? Can this be paradise?"
"It is paradise, Father," answered Euphrosynus.
Again the priest inquired, "How is that you are here?"
Euphrosynus the cook replied, "This is the dwelling place of God’s elect, and by God’s great goodness I have made my abode here as well."
The priest asked, "Do you have authority over all these beautiful things?"
Euphrosynus replied, "As far as I am able, I distribute to others the things you see here."
The priest inquired, "Can you give me some portion of these things?"
"By the grace of my God, take what you desire," Euphrosynus said.
The priest then pointed to some apples and asked for them. Euphrosynus took three apples, placed them in a kerchief, and gave them to the priest, saying, "Take what you have requested and delight therein."
At that moment, the semantron was struck for Matins, and the priest awoke and came to himself. He thought that he had been dreaming, but when he stretched out his hand to pick up his handkerchief, he found in it the three apples that he had received from Euphrosynus in the vision. They gave off an ineffable fragrance. Amazed, he arose from his couch, placed the apples on the bed, and went to church where he found Euphrosynus standing together with the brethren at the morning service. Approaching Euphrosynus, the priest implored him to reveal where he had been that night.
Euphrosynus replied, "Forgive me, Father; I have been in that place where we saw one another."
The priest said, "You must reveal God’s greatness, so that the truth is not concealed!"
But the wise Euphrosynus humbly answered, "You, Father, implored the Lord to reveal to you the reward given to His chosen. The Lord was pleased to make this known to your godliness through me, wretched and unworthy as I am, and thus, we found ourselves together in paradise."
The priest inquired, "What did you give me, Father, in paradise when I spoke with you?"
"I gave you the three fragrant apples which you have placed on your bed in your cell," answered Euphrosynus. "But forgive me, Father, for I am a worm and not a man."
When Matins had finished, the priest summoned the brethren and showed them the three apples from paradise, and he told them exactly what had occurred. All smelled the ineffable fragrance emitted by those apples and discerned their spiritual sweetness, and they marvelled at what they were told by the priest. They hurried to the kitchen to reverence the servant of God, but they could not find him. When Euphrosynus left the church, he hid from the glory of men, and no one knew where he had gone. It is pointless to inquire into his whereabouts, for if he had access to paradise, where could he not have hidden himself?
The brethren divided the apples among themselves and distributed pieces of them as a blessing to many, especially to those who were in need of healing. Whoever ate of these apples was healed of his infirmities, and thus, all received great benefit from the holy and venerable Euphrosynus. The account of the vision was written down not only on scrolls but also in the hearts of those who were told of it, and all who heard thereof strove to increase their labors and please God.
By the prayers of the venerable Euphrosynus, may the Lord deem us also worthy to dwell in paradise. Amen.