St. Mary of Egypt

Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 04/03

Patron Of: Penitent Women, Reformed Prostitutes, Sexual Temptation

Also known as
    Maria Aegyptica


    3 April; 1 April in the Greek Church


    Beautiful, spoiled, cynical, disenchanted, rich child who was the center of her family's pride, and repaid them by running away at age 12. Ran to Alexandria, Egypt where she worked as a dancer, singer, and prostitute for 17 years. Took ship on a pilgrimage to Palestine, hoping to ply her trade among the pilgrims, and then in Jerusalem.

    On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross she moved with the crowds to the church, looking for customers. At the church door she found herself repelled, unable to open the door; she was overcome with remorse for her life and exclusion from the Church. She repented, and asked for Our Lady's guidance; a voice told that to find rest, she should cross the Jordan River. The next day she crossed the river, wandered into the desert, and took up the life of a hermit for nearly 50 years as penance.

    She lived on herbs, berries, and whatever came to hand. She met Saint Zosimus of Palestine. She once told him to come back exactly one year from that day; when he did, he found she'd died; with a lion help, he dug her grave. Zosimus later wrote a biography of her, and her life was a popular story in the Middle Ages.


    c.344 in Egypt


    c.421 in the desert near the River Jordan of natural causes
    relics at Rome, Naples, Cremona, and Antwerp




    penitent women
    reformed prostitutes
    sexual temptation

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All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.

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