St. Alexis of Rome
St. Alexis of Rome is doubted by many to have actually existed. According to his legend he was born in Rome into a wealthy Christian family sometime in the 5th century. He fled his arranged marriage and instead set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he lived in Edessa as an almsman for 17 years. Upon his return to Rome he was so changed as to be unrecognizable by his own parents, however he chose not to reveal his identity, and settled instead beneath a staircase of his father’s home. He lived out another 17 years as an anonymous beggar, in the process becoming renowned for his saintliness. Only when he was lying on his death bed did Alexis disclosed to the Pope, who had come to his side in that hour, who he really was. The legend of St. Alexis was very popular in the East, and at the end of the Middle Ages, also became widespread in the West.
Another version of the story says Alexis never returned to Rome and died in Edessa around 430 A.D.
Feastday: 17 July in West. 17 March in East.