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Saint Mary of Egypt

The recorder of the life of this wonderful saint was St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem. A hieromonk, the elder Zossima, had gone off at one time during Great Lent on a twenty-day walk into the wilderness across the Jordan. He caught sight of a human with a withered and naked body and with hair as white as snow, who fled from his sight because of its nakedness. Fr. Zossima chased the figure until they came to a stream when it cried out, “Fr. Zossima, forgive me for the Lord’s sake. I cannot turn round to you, for I am a naked woman.” Zossima threw the woman his cloak and she turned around to him. The elder was amazed that’s he knew him by name and after considerable pressure she told him her life’s story. She had been born in Egypt and lived as a prostitute in Alexandria since the age of twelve, spending almost seventeen years in that life. She had a desire to go to Jerusalem to venerate the Precious Cross. Arriving in the city she found that some force kept her from entering the church. In fear she turned to an icon of the Theotokos and begged to be allowed to go in, and after confessing her sin and promising to change her life, she was allowed entrance. She was then told to cross the Jordan to find true peace. She had spent forty-eight years there in prayer living only on plants. She begged Fr. Zossima to come back next year to give her communion. (more…)

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