St. Alexis was the only son of a wealthy noble Roman Christian couple. When he grew up he was compelled to marry against his will, so he secretly left his wife and family on his wedding night and fled to Edessa, now in present day Turkey. There he venerated the miraculous Icon-Not-Made-By-Hands which Christ had made and sent to King Abgar. He lived there for 17 years as a beggar, absorbed in prayer. When his fame as a holy man spread, St. Alexis took a boat to escape praise, but it was blown off course, landing by God’s Providence in Rome, his home town.
The saint returned unrecognized as a beggar at his parents door, asking for alms. His father, moved by Christian charity, gave him a tiny closet-sized room, where St. Alexis lived for another 17 years, just eating bread and water, and patiently enduring all manner of abuse from the servants. When he died in a.d. 411, a voice was heard in the Church of the Holy Apostles, telling the Emperor and Patriarch to “Look for the Man of God” and, directed to the parent’s house, they found him dead, flowing fragrant myrrh. A note in his dead hand explained his life to the amazement of all.