Written by Monica Mikhail ~St. Anastasia was born into a noble family in the city of Constantinople. She was known by everyone for her beauty and possession of great moralistic qualities. At this time, Emperor Justin ruled over Constantinople and noticing Anastasia, he expressed his desire to marry her. However, Emperor Justin was already married. Knowing this, Anastasia refused his offer and told his wife of this request. The Empress sent Anastasia to Alexandria, where a convent was later built in her name, so Emperor Justin would not know of her whereabouts. Unfortunately, Emperor Justin eventually found out where she was and sought after her. Anastasia went and hid in the wilderness, disguised as a prince.
In the wilderness she found Anba Daniel, who was the Archpriest of the wilderness, and told him her story. Anba Daniel saw her devotion to God expressed by her willingness to give up worldly possessions in order to live in God’s image. He brought her to a cave and let her live in secrecy as a male so she would not be caught. Once a week, one of Anba Daniel’s disciples comes to fill a pot of water for her and leaves it at the door of the cave. When the disciple would come, she would write her thoughts on a piece of pottery and leave it at the entrance for the disciple to take to Anba Daniel. For 28 years Anastasia lived in solitude, keeping her identity a secret.
One day the disciple brought one of the pottery pieces that St. Anastasia left for the disciple to deliver to Anba Daniel who wept when he read it. He then said to his disciple, “Come with me now to bury the body of the Saint in that cave.” Upon entering the cave, St. Anastasia and Anba Daniel greeted and blessed each other. She told him, “For the sake of God, bury me with what I have on my body,” for she did not want her gender to be revealed to the disciple. She then prayed, bade them farewell, and departed in peace to be with her Lord Jesus Christ. Anba Daniel then wept over her passing and buried her. It was when the disciple was burying her that he found that she was indeed a woman and not a man.
After the burial, they returned to their place which is when the disciple knelt before Anba Daniel and said, “For the sake of God, tell me her story, for I have seen that she was a woman.” Anba Daniel then told him the story of this saint; that she was of a noble family from Constantinople but abandoned it all in order to surrender herself to Christ.
May God grant us the strength to detach ourselves from the possessions of the earth and live in devotion to Christ as St. Anastasia had lived in this world.