Orthodox/Catholic Remembrance Day: 11 October

Name means: Z: after the father of the gods Zeus (Greek)



* in Tarsus in Turkey

around 100 near Dimitra near Larissa in Greece

Antike original russische Ikone aus dem 19. Jahrhundert.


Zenais and Philonilla were, according to tradition, two sisters of Jason who were born in a Jewish family as cousins of Paul. This – or Jason – converted her to the Christian faith. They studied medicine at the Academy in Tarsus and then moved to Dimitra on Mount Pelion; this mountain was known for its healing springs and shrines of the healing god Asclepius / Aesculapius, and the many doctors there took care of the rich, from whom they could charge high fees. The two sisters found there a cave with a mineral spring, built a chapel, led an ascetic life and treated all who came to them, regardless of their solvency; they were thus the first Christian doctors after Luke and the first Holy Doctors to treat the sick without money.


One day, when Zenais went into the forest to look for medicinal herbs, she injured her right foot with a thorn so badly that she died immediately afterwards. A man found her body lying there with his gaze turned to heaven and buried her in her cell. Philonella outlived her sister by a few years and became known as a miracle worker. Other tradition tells that the two were stoned to death one night by pagans.


Joachim Schäfer: Article Zenais and Philonilla, from the Ecumenical Dictionary of Saints –

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