Saint Mary of Egypt - the patroness of penitents!
The Eastern Church celebrates the feast of St Mary of Egypt on April 1st and on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. In the West she is commemorated on April 3rd (or April 2, according to the Roman Martyrology).
St Mary (aka Mary Aegyptica), was a native of Egypt who at a young age fled to the port city of Alexandria where it is believed she was a prostitute. At the age of 29, she decided to go to Jerusalem paying her passage by offering sexual favors to the other passengers on the ship. While in Jerusalem she attempted to enter the Church of the Resurrection (the Holy Sepulcher) for the Feast of the "Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14th) when an unseen force blocked her entrance. Seeing an icon
of the Panagia (Virgin Mary) outside the church she earnestly prayed for "forgiveness." Venerating the relic of the True Cross she heard the voice of the Theotokos telling her to cross "the Jordon to find glorious rest." She received confession, absolution and the Holy Mysteries at the Monastery of St John the Baptist and with three loafs for bread she went into the desert to live the remainder of her lift as a hermit in penitence.
She remained in the desert for many years to be discovered by the Monk Zosimus to whom she told her story and asked him to bring her the Holy Mysteries on the next Holy Thursday. He fulfilled her wish and she asked that he return the following Great Fast (Lent). Zosimus return there the next Great Fast (530AD) to find her uncorrupted body with written instructions in the sand for her burial in the desert.
Size: 15 7/8" x 13 1/8"