Holy Fevronia of Murom (Eufrosinia in monastic life) was the wife of Prince Peter of Murom. Blessed Peter and Fevronia are Muromian wonderworkers and patrons of the land of Murom.
A legend of the Muromian saints is contained in “The tale of the new Muromian saints, the venerable Prince Peter (David in monastic life) and his spouse, the venerable Princess Fevronia (Eufrosinia in monastic life)” written based on oral accounts in the late 1540s by Hermolaus (Erasmus in monastic life).
According to legend, Peter was a junior brother of Prince Paul of Murom. A devious serpent would fly to her in the guise of Prince Paul. Peter killed the serpent with the miraculous Agric sword but the serpent’s poisonous blood spilt on Paul’s skin causing his skin to cover with scabs. Seeking a skilful doctor he ordered to have himself brought to the land of Ryazan. There, in the village of Laskovo, he found a young maiden named Fevronia, a forest bee-keeper’s daughter, who promised to heal Peter if he marries her. Peter agreed. When healed, he didn’t keep his promise and left for Murom. Shortly thereafter, his body was covered with scabs again. Ashamed, Peter came back to Fevronia. The wise maiden healed him again, after which the Prince of Murom married her.
After his elder brother’s death Peter came to reign Murom but the boyars and their wives didn’t want to obey a peasant woman. They asked Fevronia to leave Murom taking with her whatever riches she wants. Fevronia asked to let her only take her husband and the boyars agreed as each of them hoped to be a new ruler of Murom. Peter and Fevronia left the city together. Soon thereafter a bloody feud flared up in Murom and the people asked Peter and Fevronia to return.
Peter and Fevronia were once again the rulers of Murom and were “gracious to all people they ruled as if they were child-loving parents.”
In the end of their lives they took monastic vows under the names of David and Eufrosinia and asked to bury them in a stone casket in which their bodies would be separated only by a partition. Peter and Fevronia prayed to God that they both might die in the same hour.
When Peter felt the nearing of death he sent a messenger to report it to Fevronia who was embroidering a figure of the saints on a coverlet for the chalice of the cathedral and wanted to finish her job. She prayed Peter to wait a little to die together. Then Peter sent another messenger to say that he is departing this world. Hearing these words, Fevronia placed the needle in the coverlet, wound up the thread she had been using and they both passed away.
The Muromians decided that it was no good to bury a man and woman in the same grave but the next morning the bodies of the saints were miraculously found together. After the miracle happened again, no man “dared to disturb the holy bodies but left them in the common grave.”
Among the princes of Murom there was no one named Peter. Some scholars suggest that Peter might actually stand for Prince David Yuryevich of Murom (1204 - 1227/1228).
Saint Peter and Fevronia were canonized by the 1547 Council; it is known, however, that the saints had been venerated as early as the 15th century in Murom.
St. Fevronia is portrayed in iconography wearing monastic clothing and a cowl on the head because she had taken monastic vows before death. The earliest depictions of St. Fevronia obviously appeared after her canonization in 1547. Most of the Fevronia icons come from the monasteries and churches of Murom. The earliest depiction of the saint is a Muromian icon of Saint Fevronia of Murom dating back to the 16th century (now held in the Andrei Rublev Museum in Moscow).
St. Fevronia of Murom is commemorated on July 8 (June 25, the old style). Since 2008 this holiday has been celebrated nationally as “Day of Family, Love and Loyalty.”
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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