APRIL 1. Mary of egypt, the x-rated saint
Patron saint of chastity, deliverance from carnal passions, deliverance from demons, fever, penitents, skin diseases, temptations of the flesh, warfare against the flesh
Born somewhere in Egypt, Mary's "youth did not presage anything good." Instead, she had "x-rated beginnings." At 12 years old, Mary ran away to the city of Alexandria where she led a dissolute life. She often refused the money she was offered for sexual favors, as she was driven by an insatiable and irrepressible passion (or, by another account, she was consumed by the fire of a desire that nothing was able to appease). She got by off of begging and spinning flax. Alternatively, Mary was a famous singer and actress.
When she was 30 or so, Mary undertook an "x-rated cruise from Egypt to Palestine" that she thought of as an "anti-pilgrimage." She seduced her fellow travelers along the way, either as part of her trade or just for the fun of it. Nothing made her happier than corrupting young Christian men. When she attempted to enter a church in which pilgrims rejoiced, an unseen force barred her. She realized this was due to her impure ways and she was struck with remorse. She burst into tears and smote her breast, vowing before an icon of The Virgin to become an ascetic. When she again tried to enter the church, she was permitted inside. She venerated the relic of the true cross and returned to the icon to give thanks. There she heard a voice advise her to cross the Jordan and go into hiding.
Mary went to the monastery of St. John the Baptist on the banks for the River Jordan, where she received absolution and communion. The next day she retired to the desert to live the rest of her days as a hermitess in penitence. She carried only three bread loaves (or a jar of water and a basket of legumes), and when they ran out she lived on whatever she found in the wilderness. Even though Mary encountered neither men nor beasts in the desert, she was beset by many temptations.
A year before her death, St. Zosimas of Palestine saw Mary wandering in the desert. She was completely naked and almost unrecognizable as human. Old, sun-darkened, and shriveled, Mary recounted her tale for him, and asked him to meet her on the banks of the Jordan in one year, bearing Holy Communion. When he came to Mary as requested, she walked on the surface of the water to receive him. Mary asked him to return the following year. When he arrived there, he found Mary lying dead. According to an inscription in the sand near her head, she'd died a full year before, on the very day Zosimas brought her communion, and her person remained incorrupt. He buried her body with the assistance of a passing lion, who dug a hole with his claws.