April 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 9

Saint Of The Month

St. Mary Of Egypt – April 1

Painting of St. Mary of Egypt

Mary lived some time in the fifth century. Her life was first recorded in about the sixth century, and various writers have offered differing accounts. According to one legend, Mary was a beautiful singer who left the world she knew so she would not tempt men into improper relations. She fled to the desert beyond the Jordan River. There, afer he clothes turned to shreds, her hair grew so long that it cover her naked body. She died in the desert, and two monks buried her there.

Another story offers a richer description of Mary's life. In this version, she is said to have been the daughter of a wealthy Egyptian family who left home when she was 12. In Alexandria, she became a prostitute, and she continued her trade while accompanying Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem.

Upon reaching the Holy Land, Mary set off with just three loaves of bread and remained alone in the desert for nearly 50 years. A priest named Zosimus finally came upon her, and Mary walked on the water of the Jordan River to greet him and take Holy Communion. Mary instructed Zosimus to return the next year with communion bread. The priest followed her orders, but when he found Mary, she was dead.

Mary's story became popular in Europe during medieval times, and scenes from her life often appear in paintings and on stained-glass windows.

Having escaped the fog of sin,
and having illumined thy heart
with the light of penitence,
O glorious one,
thou didst come to Christ
and didst offer to Him
His immaculate and holy Mother
as a merciful intercessor.
Hence thou hast found
remission of transgression,
and with the Angels thou ever rejoicest.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives