Saint Mary of Egypt

Saint Mary of Egypt

April 1 is the feast of a little-known saint whose story demonstrates the power of the Church as the home of forgiveness, redemption and mercy. St. Mary of Egypt was a prostitute for 17 years before she received the Eucharist and chose the life of a hermit.

Mary of Egypt, who was born in 344 A.D., relocated to Alexandria when she was 12 years old and became a prostitute there. She joined a huge group traveling to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, intending to carry on her trade.

Once more intending to seduce people into immorality, she went along with the crowds on the actual feast day to the church to venerate the True Cross relic. She arrived at the church door but was not let inside. Every time she walked towards the door, a miraculous force pushed her back. Mary of Egypt made three or four unsuccessful attempts to enter the church before withdrawing to a corner and sobbing bitterly.

She then noticed a statue of the Blessed Virgin. In order to venerate the relic, she prayed to the Holy Mother for permission to enter the church. She pledged to the Virgin Mother that she would give up the world and its ways if she was permitted to enter the church.

Mary of Egypt entered the church, revered the relic, and then returned to the statue outside to pray for guidance. She heard a voice instructing her to cross the Jordan River and seek rest. She left and arrived at the Jordan in the evening, where she had communion at a church honoring St. John the Baptist.

She entered the desert the following day after crossing the river, and she spent 47 years living by herself there. The hermitess was then discovered by a priest by the name of Zosimus during his Lenten retreat. On Holy Thursday of the following year, she asked him to come back to the Jordan River banks and give her Communion. As promised, the priest came back carrying the Eucharist. Mary invited him to return the next year, but this time at the location of their first meeting.

After a year, Zosimus came back and discovered Mary's corpse. Beside it, there was a written request to be buried, along with a declaration stating that she had passed away one year prior, in 421 A.D, the same evening she received Holy Communion.

St. Mary of Egypt is revered as the patron saint of converts and chastity, of those with great desires who wish to bring their desires to the light of God and against skin diseases and fevers.

Other Saints of the Day
Saint Cellach
Saint Melito of Sardis
Saint Ludovico Pavoni
Saint Hugh of Grenoble
Saint Macarius the Wonder-Worker

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