The Orthodox Church commemorates today Saint Irene the Empress, later Nun Xeni.
Saint Irene lived in the 12th century AD and had various virtues. Emperor Alexios Komnenos noticed her virtues and decided to marry her to his son, John, also known as Good-Ioannis, because of his many gifts.
The virtuous Empress Irene was very generous and promoted the charitable giving of others. In fact, she liked going alone and discreetly to the huts of the poor, where she gave money and supported the poor spiritually. She grasped the opportunities she had and, therefore, she built nursing homes and hostels. She also gave a lot of money for their maintenance and security. It is not enough to inaugurate new buildings, but also to maintain them over time.
Shortly after that, she experienced great distress. Her husband passed away during a mission in Syria in 1143 AD. Later, the exact same thing happened to both of her four children. She tried to find relief by isolating herself from society.
Thus, she withdrew to the Monastery of Pantocrator, with the consent of the king’s son Manuel, where he became a nun and changed her name to Xeni. There she reposed in the Lord and her funeral took place in great simplicity as she wished. Shortly before her passing away, she was saying that she has actually died long ago. There was nothing left from her past self, except her new self, nun Xeni.
“There are people, perhaps even among us, who literally follow an ascetic way of life, they pray and are devoted to the will of God. They are the ‘salt’ of the earth. They offer comfort and stand up of their fellow human beings on the throne of God.
Source: Church of Cyprus