April 1, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Mary of Egypt

On the first of this month [April], we commemorate our Holy Mother Mary the Egyptian.


Long ago her spirit was taken away, and her flesh perished,
The earth now hides the dead bones of Mary.
On the first of April Mary died praying in the desert.

Venerable Mary was from Egypt, and lived during the reign of Emperor Justinian the Great (527-565). At first she lived in licentiousness, bringing many people to destroy their souls through shameful pleasure. As a child she fell into wicked acts of the flesh and remained in them. Having lived like this for seventeen years, then the blessed one gave herself over to asceticism and virtue. And she ascended so much to the heights of dispassion, that whenever she walked over the waters or rivers she would not sink. And when she prayed, she was raised high above the earth, standing in the air between heaven and earth.

The cause of her change and repentance is as follows. On the fourteenth of September, when the Elevation of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross takes place in Jerusalem, many Christians gathered from everywhere and would go to Jerusalem to see the honorable wood of the Cross. At that time the Saint also went, together with licentious and wanton youths. Arriving there she sought to enter the Temple of the Holy Resurrection, in order to see the Life-giving Cross, but she was prevented by an invisible force, and was unable to enter or see it. Then she received surety from the Lady Theotokos, that if she was allowed to see the Cross of the Lord, she would from henceforth be temperate and not corrupt again her body with desires and pleasures.

Having attained what she longed for, she was not beguiled by her previous undertaking, but crossed the Jordan River, and went into the desert, where the thrice-blessed one lived for forty-five years, without seeing anyone, having God alone as her spectator. She struggled so much, that she was raised above human nature, and acquired such a life on earth that was angelic and super-human, and then departed to the Lord in peace. (Her complete life was written by Sophronios of Jerusalem.)

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
Enlightened by the grace of the Cross, thou wast seen to be a bright light of repentance, dispelling the darkness of passions, O all holy one. Thou didst appear as an angel in the flesh to holy Zosimas in the wilderness. Intercede with Christ for us, O Mary our Venerable Mother.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thou who wast once obsessed with fornication by repentance art now the Bride of Christ. Thou didst lovingly imitate the life of the Angels and annihilate demonic hosts by the Cross; thou art now a Bride in the Kingdom of heaven, O most chaste Mary.

Another Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Having escaped the fog of sin, and having illumined thy heart with the light of penitence, 0 glorious one, thou didst come to Christ and didst offer to Him His immaculate and holy Mother as a merciful intercessor. Hence thou hast found remission for transgressions, and with the Angels thou ever rejoicest.