Zenaida | Zenais | Ida of Tarsus

  • Orthodox/Catholic Remembrance Day: October 11
  • Name means: Z: after the father of the gods Zeus (Greek)
  • Doctor
  • Born in Tarsus, Turkey
  • Died around 100 near Dimitra near Larissa, Greece

According to tradition, Zenais and Philonilla were two sisters of Jason, who hailed from a Jewish family and were regarded as Paul’s cousins. Jason, or perhaps Zenais herself, underwent a conversion to the Christian faith. The sisters pursued studies in medicine at the esteemed Academy in Tarsus before eventually relocating to Dimitra, situated on Mount Pelion. This mountain was renowned for its therapeutic springs and shrines dedicated to the god of healing, Asclepius/Aesculapius. Within this locale, numerous physicians catered to the affluent, charging exorbitant fees for their services.

In this milieu, the two sisters discovered a cave housing a mineral spring. They constructed a chapel there and embraced an ascetic lifestyle. Undeterred by the financial status of those who sought their aid, they compassionately treated all who came to them. Thus, they emerged as the first Christian physicians subsequent to Luke, and the initial Holy Doctors to administer medical care without monetary compensation.

Tragedy befell Zenais one day as she ventured into the forest in search of medicinal herbs. She sustained a severe injury to her right foot from a thorn, which proved fatal. Discovered in a posture with her gaze turned skyward, Zenais was laid to rest within her cell by a man who stumbled upon her lifeless body. Philonella survived her sister by a few years, gaining renown as a performer of miracles. Another account recounts that both sisters met their demise at the hands of pagans who stoned them one fateful night.

Source: © Ikonen Mautner. Typing errors, other errors or changes reserved. AO: “Das Synaxarion. Die Leben der Heiligen der Orthodoxen Kirche.” (http://www.prodromos-verlag.de/buecher.html) and Joachim Schäfer:  Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon – https://www.heiligenlexikon.de