Anna was born in Constantinople, in the area of the Blachernes, possibly around 750. She was the daughter of a deacon called Ioannes, who served at the Church of the Blachernes. She was left orphan at an early age and was raised by her grandmother. Her two uncles, her father’s brothers, contributed to her upbringing. The one was a monk at Olympos of Bithynia and, as a defender of icon veneration in the first period of the Iconoclastic Controversy, in the years of Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717-741), had suffered a tongue excision.
Anna got married and had two children. However, she soon became a widow and some years later, after she had lost her children, gave her possessions to the poor and left for Olympus of Bithynia, where an unknown monk she accidentally met in the area tonsured her a nun. She then appeared dressed as a man under the name Euphemianos at the Monastery of Leukades and asked to join the monastic community. The abbot of the monastery, thinking she is a eunuch, accepted her. Euphemianos was particularly devoted and was respected by the rest of the monks of the monastic community. She was soon known for the power of her prayer and her alleged miraculous powers. Large groups of believers flocked to the monastery and asked for help. The abbot sent a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Tarasios (784-806), informing him about the monk and saying that the monastery could not accommodate such large numbers of visitors.
The patriarch responded by ceding to the monastery a vast abandoned area near Prousa. The new Monastery of the Abramites was founded and Euphemianos settled there.1 However, Euphemianos was soon made to leave the monastery because of the problems caused by a monk, who claimed that Euphemianos was a woman and not a eunuch. Euphemianos along with the monks Eustathios and Neophytos left the Monastery of the Abramites and settled for some time in a wild area of Olympus. Euphemianos later escaped to Constantinople invited by some monks. She possibly settled at first in the area of Stenon and then at Sigma, on the Bosporus coast, until her death. She died on October 29, possibly around 825. The fact that she was a woman became known after her death. The Orthodox Church proclaimed Anna-Euphemianos saint and celebrates her memory on October 29.
2. VitaThe Vita of saint Anna-Euphemianos has been preserved in a manuscript at the National Library of Paris.2 The text was possibly added in the 14th c. to the Synaxarion of Constantinople. Her Vita does not contain any dates referring to her life. The biographer calls her simply Anna for brevity's sake. There is no reference to the issue of the Iconoclasm nor her attitude to that issue is reported. On the contrary, there is information about the foundation of the new Monastery of the Abramites. The Vita underlines the power of Anna’s prayer as well as her miraculous powers.
1. See Menthon, B., Une terre de légendes. L’ Olympe de Bithynie: Ses Saints, Ses Couvents, Ses Sites (Paris 1935), pp. 84-87. There are two opinions about the date and place of foundation of the Monastery of the Abramites. Grumel believes that the monastery was built between 784 and 787 on the site of the pre-existing Monastery of the Abramites in Constantinople and not at Olympus of Bithynia (Grumel, V., Les regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople 1: Les actes des patriarches, Facs. 2-3: Les regestes de 715 à 1206 (Paris 1936, revised by J. Darrouzes 1989), no. 350, p. 22. Janin disagrees and believes that the new monastery was founded at Olympus (Janin, R., ‘Les Eglises et les Monasteres des Grands Centres Byzantins’, in La Geographie Ecclesiastique de l’ Empire Byzantin (Paris 1975), p. 132, note 2.