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September 23

Saints Xanthippe and Polyxena - Sept 23

​Saints Xanthippe and Polyxena


(Unknown – Late 1st Century)

“In what way, my God, I shall act, or what counsel I shall take, I know not.

Saint Xanthippe

Saint’s Life Story

The Tale of Xanthippe

Having briefly witnessed Paul preach in Rome, a servant returns to Spain and falls sick due to wishing to have heard Paul properly. The master’s wife, Xanthippe, overhears the servant explaining this, so she speaks privately with the servant, which causes statues of the household gods to fall down. Xanthippe thereupon proceeds to fast, pray, lose sleep, and enter into celibacy, gradually wasting away.

Paul is led by God to come to Xanthippe but, when she expresses a desire to be baptized, her husband throws Paul out and locks Xanthippe up. Xanthippe then prays that her husband will fall asleep at dinner, which he does, so she is able to escape the house by bribing the porter. On her way to Paul, Xanthippe is attacked by demons wielding fire and lightning, from which she is saved by a vision of Jesus (as a beautiful youth) and Paul finding her. Paul then takes her indoors where she is baptised and given the Eucharist.

Returning home, Xanthippe has a vision and collapses. Her husband soon awakes and, having had a dream, asks some wise men for an interpretation. They declare that the dream reveals the struggle between Satan and Christ and advise that the husband be baptized. When they look in on his wife Xanthippe, expecting her to be near death, they discover her singing praises to Jesus. This impresses the wise men to the extent that they have Xanthippe take them to Paul. All of this induces her husband to likewise convert.

The Tale of Polyxena

Xanthippe’s younger sister, Polyxena, later has a dream in which she is swallowed by a dragon but then rescued by a beautiful youth. Xanthippe thinks this means that Satan will win Polyxena unless she is immediately baptized. But Polyxena’s initial attempts to secure baptism fail and she is abducted in the night by an enemy of Polyxena’s boyfriend and put on a ship to Babylonia.

The winds, however, force the ship to approach one bearing the apostle Peter, who had been directed by a vision. But demons prevent them meeting. The ship, instead, goes off course to Greece, where the apostle Philip has come. Having been directed by a vision, Philip rescues Polyxena. When his thirty servants, armed with a cross, go to meet the abductor’s army of 8,000, they slay 5,000 soldiers before the remainder flee. But Polyxena has meanwhile fled in fear.

She ends up lost and unintentionally walks into the empty den of a lioness. When the lioness returns, Polyxena begs the animal not to eat her before she is baptized. So the lioness leads her east out of the woods to a road and then goes back to her den. The apostle Andrew coincidentally walks past and Polyxena asks for baptism. So they find a well and rescue Rebecca, a Jewish slave held captive there. Then both are baptized when the lioness returns and asks Andrew to perform the task.

Later, after Andrew departs, the women briefly gain the company of an ordinary Christian driving a cart but lose it when they are abducted by a passing prefect. Rebecca later manages to escape and flee to an old woman’s house (and disappears from the story). Meanwhile, Polyxena begs the prefect’s servants to preserve her virginity; so they tell the prefect that she is ill. The prefect’s son, a convert to Christianity after witnessing Paul’s effect on Thecla, disguises her in his clothing and sends her to the shore to catch a ship. But a villainous servant overhears and reports them. They are captured and thrown to a lioness in the arena. But the lioness turns out to be the one previously encountered and does no harm. As a result, the entire city takes this to be proof of the truth of Christianity and so convert en-masse.

The narrator reveals himself as Onesimus, a sailor who has received a vision telling him to go to a certain part of Greece and pick up both Polyxena and the prefect’s son. However, after his arrival, a storm keeps everyone there for seven days. So Lucius, who is on board, teaches Christianity to the entire city. The prefect then gratefully supplies provisions to the ship and it leaves. Then it comes to rest on an island. The fierce inhabitants there attack but are defeated, though Polyxena fearfully dives into the sea and has to be rescued. Eventually all arrive back in Spain and meet Paul. When Polyxena’s abductor returns, Paul converts him as well.

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         September 23

Patron Saint:    None

Source: Acts of Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca – Wikipedia 


The virgin sisters Xanthippe and Polyxena had a burning desire to get baptized. Not a simple feat as Xanthippe got locked up and Polyxena was taken away on a ship that ended up in Greece. These acts did not stop the Lord from providing Paul, Andrew and Philip to appear in Xanthippe and Polyxena’s life to allow them to get baptized.

Do we take our baptism for granted that we are now children of the Lord? Do we share our faith with others in daily actions? Or we dedicated to the Lord like Xanthippe and Polyxena were?


Let us ask for Saints Xanthippe and Polyxena’s intercession for the grace, wisdom and strength to love out our baptismal vows throughout our every day of our lives.

St. Xanthippe and Polyxena, pray for us! Amen.

Saint Links 

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Diocese – St. Xanthippe and St. Polyxene, Disciples of the Apostles

Catholic Online – St. Xantippa and Polyxena – Saint Xantippa  – Saint Polyxena

New Advent – The Life of Xanthippe, Polyxena and Rebecca

The American Catholic – Saint of the Day Quote: Saint Xantippa and Polyxena

The Tertulllian Project – Life and Conduct of the Holy Women Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca

WikipediaActs of Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca

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