December 25. eugenia/EUGENIOS, WHO WAS BEHEADED ON CHRISTMAS
Eugenia was the daughter of Egypt's governor or prefect. Many "illustrious youth" sought beautiful Eugenia's hand, but she spurned them all because she yearned to remain a virgin.
LIFE IN A MONASTERY OF MEN
Upon overhearing a band of Christians singing hymns and praising God, Eugenia became a convert at heart. Accompanied by a pair of "faithful eunuchs", Eugenia cut off her hair and fled from her father's house dressed in men's clothing. All three were baptized as Christians. The bishop who baptized her foresaw of her coming in a vision, and encouraged her to pursue an ascetic life "disguised" as the abbot Eugene or Eugenios. (In Eugenia's time and place, only men could serve in the cloisters.) Eugenia (referred to henceforth as Eugenios) continued to live as a man and later became an abbot. By some accounts, Eugenios lived undetected in a monastery of men; by others, Eugenios lived in seclusion because, upon arriving at the monastery, the abbot found "no trace of masculinity in the applicant's lowered voice."
TORN GARMENTS REVEAL DAZZLING SPIRITUAL BEAUTY
While still an abbot, Eugenios cured a woman (aka a "vessel of satan") of an illness. The awed woman was overcome with passions and, feigning a second illness in need of curing, she tried to woo Eugenios, who rebuffed her sexual advances. The woman accused Eugenios of attempted rape or adultery, depending the account. Still in man's clothing, the abbot was taken to court where the Egyptian governor (aka Eugenios' father) presided. At the trial, Eugenios "rent [his] coat"/"tore open [his] garments" and revealed he had once lived as Eugenia and was exonerated. The entire family rejoiced to be reunited and, dazzled by their long-lost loved one's spiritual beauty, together they converted at once to Christianity.
Eugenia moved to Rome where she resumed life as a woman and converted many, especially maidens.
ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT
When it came time for her martyrdom, Eugenia was dragged to the temple, which collapsed into ruins by a miracle before she could enter it. As such, she was accused of witchcraft. Next, her torturers tied a heavy stone around her neck and cast her into the river, but the cord broke and Eugenia survived. They then threw her into roaring fire followed by a pit, where she remained alive for ten days. While trapped in the pit, Christ appeared to Eugenia in a dream, offering her a shining white loaf and foretelling that she would die on the Feast of the Nativity. She was beheaded on Christmas.
Eugenia's story is said to be apocryphal or "a romantic fictitious legend."