Tag: orthodox saints

The Fifth Sunday of Lent: Saint Mary of Egypt

 

What is repentance? Can one truly repent if one has sinned greatly? Repentance is a turning back to God, and so long as we draw breath, no matter how low we may have sunk, we can turn back. But that turning back may be arduous and painful. On the final Sunday of Great Lent, we are reminded that, so long as we choose to repent, the door is open.

On the final Sunday of Great Lent, we commemorate Saint Mary of Egypt. The account of Saint Mary comes to us through Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem (himself an interesting figure in his own right), which he transcribed as it has been verbally passed down for perhaps a hundred years at that point. Mary was from Alexandria and had lived as a prostitute for 17 years, from the age of 12. Moreover, she claimed that she lived that way as much for pleasure as for the money.  Yet in a moment she changed.

She encountered a group of men about to sail for the Holy Land, so as to be in Jerusalem on the day of the Exaltation of the Cross. She had no money to pay for the journey but prostituted herself for the passage. Yet upon reaching Jerusalem, when she tried to enter the Holy Sepulchre with the others, she was barred from doing so, though not by any visible guards.