Sts Peter and Febronia are two spouses considered the patron saints of the Christian marriage. Their name day is commemorated as the Feast of Family, Love and Fidelity. What made the scarcely known love story of these two ancient Russian saints become an example of an ideal relationship between a man and woman? The answer can be found in their lives.
Love a Person, Not His Money
Peter came from a noble family and was the prince of Murom. Febronia was a commoner. Marrying a prince, Febronia could have easily lost her head, as it happens in many other known “rags-to-riches” stories. Instead, she acts as a very reasonable, balanced, humble and dignified young woman. Marrying Peter, she calmly endures his expulsion, as well as the loss of his title, status and the prospects of a well-established life.
It is human nature to strive to minimize problems, and a profitable marriage can be viewed as a ‘solution’. However, in this fast-changing world where wealth and status may come and go, marriage should be based on spiritual closeness, rather than money or social standing, since neither has eternal value and both can end overnight. Marriage is destined for salvation and eternal life, while a union of convenience is a house built on sand.
Be Prepared for Challenges
The boyars were unhappy that their prince had married a commoner. The power of tradition forced them to deliver an ultimatum to Peter: “Either you leave your wife and keep the princely title, or you stay with your wife, but you lose everything”. The prince chose the latter. Clearly, it was a difficult choice to make. It meant giving up the work of his whole life and losing all the benefits associated with it. Febronia tried to console her husband who found himself at the bottom of the heap. Soon a civil strife began in the city forcing its inhabitants to ask Peter to return to reign in Murom and leading the ordeal to a happy ending.
This teaches us that problems are an integral part of human life, and there will always be more of them in a family. Family members should try to understand and support one another, preparing to endure any test that God may send them and remembering that He always knows what is best for us. Everything will work out as long as we do not panic or start a riot on the family ship during a storm.
Live with God
It is impossible to build anything solid in life (including a family) without God’s help. Peter and Febronia were Christians who trusted God and regarded their encounter as a great providence. They realized that their marriage was from God and had to be preserved and developed. This is why the prince married a commoner, and this is why she stayed with him when he lost everything overnight. At the end of their earthly life, the princely couple chose the monastic path, which also speaks of their trust in God. The Lord took the spouses into eternity on the same day, accepting them into His kingdom.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds