Saint Mary of Egypt
At the tender age of twelve, Mary left her father’s house that she might be without restraint in her life of debauchery, which she pursued for seventeen years at Alexandria. Then she accompanied a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She was in that city on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and went with the crowd to the church which contained the precious wood. The others entered and adored; but Mary was invisibly held back. In that instant her misery and degradation burst upon her. Turning to the Immaculate Mother, whose portrait faced her in the portico, she vowed to do penance if she might enter and stand like Magdalene beside the Cross. And then she was able to enter.
As she knelt before Our Lady before leaving the church, a voice said to her, Pass over the Jordan, and you will find rest. She went into the wilderness and there, in the year 420, forty-seven years later, the Abbot Zosimus met her. She told him that for seventeen years the old songs and scenes had haunted her; but since then she had had perfect peace. At her request he brought her Holy Communion on Holy Thursday. She asked him to return again after a year, and this time he found her corpse upon the sand, with an inscription saying, Bury here the body of Mary the sinner.
Reflection. Blessed John Colombini was converted to God by reading Saint Mary’s life. Let us, too, learn from her not to be content with confessing and lamenting our sins, but to flee from whatever leads us to commit them.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).