Sofia was an orphan with Down syndrome in Eastern Europe and now has a forever family.
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Saint Sophia of Thrace

I was at my parents house this weekend and my dad and I got to talking about saints. We know that Diego, Mateo and Joaquin have a saint associated with them....the cities San Diego, San Mateo and San Joaquin were all named after saints. We wondered if there was a Saint Sophia (Sofia). We certainly don't have a city of Santa Sophia here in California so she must not be a big Latin American saint. But she certainly was somebody important since there is a giant Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine. I knew that the actual name Sofia means "wisdom" and that Sofia is a beautiful name and one of my favorite girl names but I didn't know much more. My dad disappeared for awhile upstairs to his office and a few minutes later he came down with a copy of this.

Imagine my surprise when I read the title...St. Sophia...the Mother of Orphans! My dad and I chuckled...another little sign from God. Do any of you remember this entry? And if you've read my other blog Three's A Charm or read the book Gifts 2, you'll remember this story.

I did a little more research on Saint Sophia of Thrace. She even has a fan page on Facebook! 

I found this lovely synopsis...

Sophia was born in modern-day Bulgaria, in eleventh-century Byzantium. She was known for her beauty and intelligence, and as wealth and high social standing were added to that, her life was set up for happiness. She had six children, and raised them with love.

Then, in her relative young age (her early thirties), a plague hit… and Sophia watched as her husband died, and then her children, one by one. She at first, overcome by grief, wished and prayed that she might die too. We can only imagine the depths to which such a blow would have taken her. Most of the hagiographies seem to pass over this point in relative silence, for obvious reasons. It is something indescribable, personal and somehow sacred.

Eventually, however, a new conviction was formed in her. Or rather, the divine spark in her manifested itself—being who she was, she could only truly respond to such tragedy with love. She made inquiries to local church leaders about how she could best distribute her wealth to the poor, although still keeping her house, which she transformed into a home for the unfortunate, the homeless, and, especially, the orphan. It seems that her love for children never waned after her loss, but instead seemed to grow—she legally adopted over 120 children (she did not only take care of them, love them, and raise them, but bestowed upon them legitimacy in a noble family and, therefore, unheard of opportunity for most abandoned orphans.) Like St. Juliana of Lazarevo, a Russian saint who lived centuries later, she often would go without food herself in order to meet the needs of anyone who came her way.

She became somewhat the equivalent of Mother Teresa for her day, a supreme example of a spiritual ideal. Mothers, caught up in their own troubles, could always compare themselves to Sophia and become truly humbled.

She received monastic tonsure shortly before her death, consciously giving up her life to God. She was fifty-three years old.

The one miracle which is associated with her is represented by the urn which she holds in the icon. She used it to serve wine to her children and guests, and it is said that no matter how many people were present, no matter how little wine there was available, the urn would always fill to the brim with “the best wine”—a second Cana of Galilee. And as with that first miracle of the incarnate God, it is a symbol of infinite giving, even complete self-emptying out of love. He who provided the wine would Himself become the wine of the eternal feast—in His own blood.


  1. Juat read your older post about Joaquin's middle name. Both stories are amazing!

  2. Oh, I love this. I have been praying to St. Thomas More for his intercession (prayer) for orphans, and especially for our adoption. I will also ask precious St. Sofia for her help as well. I don't think those sweet orphans can ever have "too much" help.

    Thanks for sharing that!

  3. I just read the two associated blogs as well as this one about St. Sophia... can I just say... "TINGLES?" The Lord works in the most amazing ways!

  4. Wow, that is just amazing. Your family's "coincidences" are surely not. God's work is quite evident! Love it!

  5. I have been reading your blog for a while now. I am so grateful you have allowed complete strangers a glimpse into your life. I have been challenged and encouraged to look beyond myself thanks to beautiful hearts like your own. Would you mind if I posted some of the pictures you posted of Anna? I have been praying for a family for this precious little girl and would like to get her picture and story out a bit more. If you could maybe email me at to let me know I would really appreciate it. I have been captivated by that sweet little girl! Thanks! ~ Becky

  6. How amazing! And how perfect. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl.

  7. Wow, how beautiful. Precious Sofia has her own special saint. I love it! So fittingly perfect.

  8. Wow... stories like that give me chills. I love that life can be such a spiritual experience if we just keep our eyes on God. Thank You for sharing!


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