|Princess Ileana of Romania (read about|
what happened to her crown, below)
|Princess Ileana took the name|
Mother Alexandra when she
became Abbess of a women's
monastery in Ellwood City, PA
"The Prayer goes back to the New Testament and has had a long, traditional use. The method of contemplation based upon the Holy Name is attributed to St. Simeon, called the New Theologian (949-1022). When he was 14 years old, St. Simeon had a vision of heavenly light in which he seemed to be separated from his body. Amazed, and overcome with an overpowering joy, he felt a consuming humility, and cried, borrowing the Publican's prayer (Luke 18:13), 'Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me.' Long after the vision had disappeared, the great joy returned to St. Simeon each time he repeated the prayer; and he taught his disciples to worship likewise. The prayer evolved into its expanded form: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner.' In this guise it has come down to us from generation to generation of pious monks and laymen."
Princess Ileana was the youngest daughter of Ferdinand I of Romania and his consort Queen Marie (who was a grand daughter of Britain's Queen Victoria). During the Communist era in Romania, Ileana escaped with her husband and six children (who had been born to them within a 10-year period!) to Vienna, then Switzerland, and eventually Argentina. In 1950, she sold her heirloom sapphire-and-diamond tiara in order to move with her children to the United States. You can read her fascinating "Cinderella story in-reverse" here from this series of articles printed in the LADIES HOME JOURNAL, during 1951.
She begins the articles by describing her new life in Massachusetts and recalling what brought about her decision to sell her jeweled diadem in order to live in the United States and support her children. Here's a short excerpt:
|As a 1950's housewife in the U.S. doing laundry|
(Ladies Home Journal)
|She opened two hospitals and was a|
nurse in both Austria and Romania.
Ultimately, Princess Ileana's marriage did not survive the trauma of war and her family's exile and many moves. After her children were grown, she left America and entered an Orthodox women's monastery in France. She later moved back to the United States and founded the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, PA. She took the name Mother Alexandra and served as Abbess there until her retirement in 1981, remaining at the monastery until her death in 1990, at the age of 82.
You might also enjoy this book, ROYAL MONASTIC, Princess Ileana of Romania, by Bev Cooke. I love good princess stories, and Princess Ileana was the supreme example of what a real Princess should be. As hardworking, kind, and selfless toward her people and country, she had the best qualities of some of my favorite princesses: Sara Crewe, Cinderella, and Queen Esther - with a little bit of Maria VonTrapp thrown in! This is an amazing story of a Godly woman - better than a fairy tale!
Want to read more about the "Jesus Prayer"? Look for THE WAY OF A PILGRIM - This classic work of Russian spirituality tells of an anonymous peasant's quest for the secret of prayer. The Pilgrim searches high and low to know what St. Paul meant when he said that Christians should pray always. Each new stop becomes a home for a moment for this happy wanderer who has only a knapsack and a few crusts of bread, but who finds goodness and plenty wherever he goes.