Saint Mary of Egypt is commemorated on the fifth Sunday in Lent. She was born late in the 5th century in Egypt and ran away from home at the age of twelve, living on the streets of Alexandria, begging and prostituting herself.
At a young age, she encountered a group of pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem to venerate the True Cross. For amusement, she traveled with them, but upon reaching the church housing the relic, she was prevented by an unseen force from entering. She witnessed an Icon of the Virgin Mary on the patio of the church, and prayed to her the ability to enter the church and witness the Cross, promising to renounce her dissolute ways if permitted to enter. She experienced a sudden conversion and withdrew to the desert, living as an ascetic for 47 years.
As an elderly lady, she met Saint Zosima, an abbot, and recounted the story of her life which he then recorded for posterity. She demonstrated the gift of clairvoyance, communicating facts about the abbot’s life that nobody else knew.
A theme of Saint Mary of Egypt’s story is redemption of ordinary people who have fallen into a sinful existence.