Commissioned by Fr.Tom Fehr for the Community of the Transfiguration in Cincinnati, OH
Frederick Douglass, Prophetic Witness, 1895
Little is Known about Euphrosynus other than he was a monk and cook of a Monastery in the ninth century in Palestine.
His legend stems from the story of a priest in the monastery who had a dream that he was standing in a garden.
As he moved about the garden he realized the garden was the garden of Heaven and soon he saw Euphrosynus, the cook of his monastery, there tending the plants. The priest asked Euphrosynus how he came to be there and Euphrosynus replied that he was in Paradise through the great mercy of God. The priest then asked if Euphrosynus would be able to give him something from the surrounding beauty. St. Euphrosynus suggested the priest take whatever he wished, and so the priest pointed to three luscious apples growing in the garden. Euphrosynus picked the three apples, wrapped them in a kerchief and gave them to his companion.
When the priest woke up in the morning he noticed next to him a cloth with 3 apples wrapped in it. Stunned the priest ran to St. Euphrosynus and asked him where he was the night before. Euphrosynus simply said he was in the garden and gathered the apples for the priest. ( Here some stories suggested Euphrosynus was talking about the Garden of Heaven but could he have merely meant his kitchen Garden he was always working in?)
Later, convinced it was a miracle the priest related everything he had experienced to the other monks, pointing out the “apples of Paradise” and the humbleness and holiness of Euphrosynus. Deeply impressed by what they heard, the monks went to the kitchen to pay respect to St. Euphrosynus. But, he wasn’t there. Euphrosynus had fled the monastery. The place where he concealed himself remained unknown. However, the pieces of the “apples from Paradise”, were reverently kept and distributed for blessing among the monks.
It is here the legend ends but could it be the Euphrosynus didn’t run far and merely became a cook for someone else? Maybe his holiness came not from his possible presence in the garden of heaven but because he saw the gardens of Earth as heavenly. And in trying to tell the priest where he had been was saying in plainspeak that heaven was always under his feet, it was ripe on the trees around him ready to be picked, prepared and eaten and shared in the everyday. Maybe by running he was simply allowing the brothers to figure it out for themselves.