Ida | Zenaida of Tarsus

● Orthodox Remembrance Day: October 11
● Name means: from Zeus
● Died about 100 near Demetrias, Thessaly, Greece
In the eastern Christian tradition, there are two iconic figures who have long been venerated as
the first Christian doctors, Zenaida (or Zenaida of Tarsus) and Philonella. According to lore, they
were sisters born into a highly educated Jewish family, and were even related to the apostle Paul.
Their brother, Jason, was a bishop in their hometown of Tarsus, and he instilled in them a deep
reverence for the Christian faith.
Even as young girls, Zenaida and Philonella were enamored with the study of medicine. When
they grew older, they enrolled in the prestigious Philosophical Academy in Tarsus to further
pursue their passion. It was there that they became seasoned practitioners in the healing arts.
After honing their skills for many years, they left their homeland and embarked on a pilgrimage
to the mountains near Thessaly.
Their destination was the region of Pelion, which was renowned for its natural hot springs and
the many shrines to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. There, the sisters established a clinic
where they offered their medical skills to anyone in need, regardless of their socioeconomic
status. Their kindness and generosity drew countless patients seeking an end to their sufferings.
This was a stark contrast to the other doctors in the region, who catered only to the rich and
charged exorbitant fees for their services. Not content with gouging their patients’ pockets, they
also sold forbidden objects and magical spells that promised healing but never delivered. Zenaida
and Philonella found these practices deeply troubling and sought to distance themselves as much
as possible from such corrupt behavior.
Ultimately, these two incredible women dedicated their entire lives to the pursuit of
compassionate, ethical medical practices. They became renowned for their selflessness, their
unwavering work ethic, and their deep faith in Christ. Even today, they continue to be revered as
shining examples of what it means to be true medical professionals.