Tuesday, April 02, 2013

St. Mary of Egypt

Today is one of her feast days.

Some Catholics observe her memorial on other dates - during Lent mostly.

Not long ago, I read another bio of her stating she came from a wealthy family...

Once upon a time, there was a young beautiful girl who wanted to be a big star.  Attracted to the theater and a life of glamour and luxury, she became a locally renowned entertainer, a famous exotic dancer (remember the musical Gypsy?)  and a sort of high class pole-dancing-call-girl/prostitute - catering to wealthy Christian businessmen.  She latter wrote a book called, "Accepting Sexual Promiscuity" although few could read back then, and it was soon forgotten.

A little later, while on a pilgrimage, she continued to work her trade until something queer happened.  So she wrote another book titled, "Imitation of Sexuality" - although that one didn't work out either.  Yup, you guessed it, because few people could read back then, and, it did not have an orthodox imprimatur.  Although the book received modest success over the first one, simply because she illustrated it - which is why the imprimatur was withheld, BTW.  Still, she made little cents - I mean, she couldn't make a profit. 

Anyway - long story short - her repentance bore fruit when she finally fled into the desert to do actual penance.  No one heard from her again until an old monk, Zosimas, troubled by temptations to celibacy, chased a naked figure across the desert - saying to himself:  "I must give that naked man my cloak!  Poor thing is so cold - it's shrunk to nothing!"  When he caught up to her, he discovered she was not a handsomely-striking, metrosexual-looking young man at all, but a scarecrow-looking, severely anorexic  - woman!  "Oh!  How icky!"  the monk said, breathing a great sigh of relief, since he no longer felt the urgings of lust. "If that won't make me stay chaste, nothing will!"  The monk said beneath his breath.

Zosimas soon got to know Mary and realized she was a penitent and not a destitute Parisian runway model, much less a man.  He gladly became her confessor and was edified to bring her Communion whenever he happened by. 

Then one Holy Thursday evening he found the poor thing dead, after someone evidently broke the liturgical rubrics and washed her feet in the Jordan... "How very odd!"  Zosimas whispered to the lion.  "A lion!" He shouted - surprised and shaken by an immense cat which appeared out of nowhere.  (After all, he was in the desert - which is pretty nowhere.)

After shaking hands - err, paws, the lion helped him bury Mary - "You do it pussy!  I can't look at her naked body because I'm... well, you know!  Fasting."  So the lion dug her grave and kicked her into it, covering her all up like a kitty does in the kat-box. 

On the way back to the monastery, Zosimas came to his senses and discovered the lion was just a very large domestic cat, with a St. Francis ID medal around it's collar, so he shooed him home, lest the other monks be disappointed - and sceptical - that a lion had helped him bury the body.  Besides, someone told him that keeping a pet could be idolatrous, so he wanted nothing to do with pets or former harlots.

After he arrived back at the abbey, the abbot had him write a book about Mary and all that happened to him, which he called The Dance of the Seven Veiled Mountain.  The book became so successful, he travelled to India to found a new monastery, only to die in a strange accident with a fan - a fan of the book, that is.

The End

To read the traditional story of St. Mary, go here.



  1. Wow, now that was interesting ... now what are you smoking or eating?

  2. I. Love. This.

    And the best line?

    "Poor thing is so cold - it's shrunk to nothing!"

  3. Well, this made perfect sense to Me, and it is indeed an entrancing and enchanting tale.
    I think you should keep going one....
    what would Merton do ?

  4. Oh Em Gee. What a mind you have!

  5. I liked both stories, yours and the traditional one. I was especially struck by "her determination to live out her repentance in a manner suitable to her sin." Wow. I admire her fearless acceptance of suffering.

  6. This is why I never read this blog.

  7. LOL! James! I'll try to be better.

  8. Oh, Terry...even at your weirdest, you're a better read than most of your competition at their damndest.


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