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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center

Our Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt

5th Sunday
Great Lent
Our Venerable Mother
Mary of Egypt


Our Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt is commemorated to remind us that no one is so sinful that God cannot touch their hearts and bring them to repentance and salvation.
St Mary of Egypt was converted from a life of sin to a life of holiness and repentance. She is an example to all of us for turning away from the pleasures of the flesh.


1 April and Fifth Sunday of Great Lent - St. Mary of Egypt lived between the end of the 5th century and the beginning of the 6th. She was a prostitute in Alexandria, and decided to join a pilgrimage sailing to the Holy Land, knowing that even holy pilgrims can be tempted. When they arrived in Jerusalem, she went with the pilgrims to visit the Church of the Resurrection on the feast of the Holy Cross, but she was unable to enter the doors of the church, as though an invisible hand was pushing her away. She tried four times to get in, but every time was prevented. Finally she began to realize how her sinful life was keeping her away from God. She saw the ikon of the Mother of God above the doors of the church, and began to pray, weeping bitterly, repenting of her sins, and vowing to go wherever Christ might lead her if only she would be able to enter the church. Then she was allowed to go in. She fell at the feet of the Lord on the Holy Cross, realizing how God accepts true repentance. Returning to pray again in front of the ikon of the Theotokos, she heard a voice tell her, "Cross the Jordan and you will find peace." So she walked all day, till she came to the place on the Jordan River where John had baptized Jesus. In the church she received Holy Communion, then went into the desert to live as a hermit. For 47 years she lived in the desert, seeing no human beings and suffering horrible temptations as she tried to make up for the evil deeds of her early life. One year, during Great Lent, Father Zossima, a priest-monk from one of the monasteries of Palestine went out into the desert to fast and pray, as was the custom. He met Mary, hardly recognizing her as a woman or as a person at all. She asked his blessing and told her story, then asked him to return the next year to bring her Holy Communion, which she had not received all the time she was in the desert. The next year he returned, and brought her the Holy Body and Blood of the Lord. She went back into the desert and asked him to come again the next year. When he returned, he found her lying dead and a note she had written in the dirt. It said that she had died there immediately after receiving the Holy Eucharist the year before. Father Zossima prayed over her body and tried to dig a grave in which to bury her. But he had only a stick of wood and the ground was very hard. Exhausted, he sat down to rest. When he looked up, he saw a big lion licking the saint's feet. Despite his fear, he approached the lion and found that it was friendly. The lion dug the grave with his powerful paws, and Fr Zossima buried St Mary there. The lion went peacefully into the desert and Fr Zossima returned to his monastery, where he told the story of St Mary of Egypt. It touched all of the monks in their hearts, so they kept her memory out of respect for her and out of love for God. Father Zossima died in the monastery when he was nearly 100 years old.

Kontakion, Troparion, Exapostilarion, and Vespers Sticheron or Doxastichon

Kontakion (TONE 4)

O Glorious Mary of Egypt, you cast out the darkness of sin and followed the light of penance. You directed your heart to Christ and offered Him His Immaculate Mother as an all-compassionate intercessor. Wherefore you avoided sin and now live in the joyful company of the angels in Heaven.

Vespers Doxastichon (TONE 4)

Christ, the power of your Cross has worked wonders for Mary of Egypt. She had been a harlot and has now become an example and ideal of ascetic life. Casting off the weakness of nature, she has bravely fought Satan. Now, as a saint in heaven, she has obtained the prize of victory and intercedes for our souls.

More information

St. Mary of Egypt Catholic Encyclopedia

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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center
Martha Liles
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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center is dedicated to my cousins: Bucky (Richard C. Liles) and Shirley (Shirley Jean Liles Buck). Bucky fell asleep in the Lord on Dec. 12, 2000 and Shirley fell asleep in the Lord on Nov. 8, 2001.
O God of all spirits and of all flesh, who have destroyed death, overcome the devil, and given life to the world: grant, O Lord, to the souls of your servants Bucky and Shirley, who has departed from this life, that it may rest in a place of light, in a place of happiness, in a place of peace, where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. And since You are a gracious God and the Lover of Mankind, forgive him/her every sin he/she has committed by thought, or word, or deed, for there is not a man who lives and does not sin : You alone are without sin, your righteousness is everlasting, and your word is true. You are the Resurrection and the Life, and the repose of your departed servants Bucky and Shirley. O Christ our God, and we send up glory to You, together with your eternal Father and your all-holy, good and life-givng Spirit, now and always and for ages upon ages. Amen.

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