April 1, 2012

The Place Where St. Mary of Egypt Repented in Jerusalem

In the Life of St. Mary of Egypt, written by Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem in the 7th century, we read of the wondrous repentance of Mary in Jerusalem on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is said that as she came into the Church of the Anastasis, which is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where people were going to venerate the Precious and True Cross of our Lord, in order to commit a licentious act, in a miraculous manner she was prevented from entering. Realizing her sins, she looked up and saw an image of the Theotokos to whom she prayed a prayer of repentance. Following this prayer, she was allowed to enter and venerate the Holy Cross.

In the two photos below we see the exact place tradition says St. Mary repented, above what is known as the Sacred Stairs. Emperor Heraclius climbed these Sacred Stairs in the year 629 with the Holy Cross after he returned as conqueror against the Persians, who had previously stolen the Holy Cross. These stairs lead directly to the place in the Holy Sepulchre known as Golgotha, which is the place on which our Lord was crucified.