Called the 'Man of God'. According to a contemporary account, he was a nameless man who died at the hospital of Edessa in Mesopotamia in 430. Later poems in Greek and Latin call him Alexis.
He had lived by begging and shared the alms he was given with other poor people. He is also said to have performed many healings. After his death it was learned that he was the son of a Roman patrician who had left a wealthy bride on their wedding day and gone on a long pilgrimage to Rome.
Many years later he is said to have returned to his father's house, where he spent his last 17 years as a beggar unrecognised, sleeping in a corner under the stairs.
The legend of Alexis was very popular in mediaeval times. In the eleventh century a long epic poem was written about him. In 1370, he was chosen as patron of the Alexian brothers, a nursing order.