April 17, 2016

The Cave of Saint Mary of Egypt (photos)

On the Jordan side of the Jordan River, near the site of the Baptism of Christ and where the Prophet Elijah was taken up by a chariot, is the site known as the Cave of Mary of Egypt, where she lived in asceticism. However, this place is very unlikely to have been the actual Cave of Mary of Egypt, since it is too close to the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos, from which Zosimas departed. According to the Life of Venerable Mary of Egypt, Zosimas walked twenty days into the desert in order to find some holy ascetic, when he came upon Mary of Egypt. It seems rather that this cave belonged to an imitator of Saint Mary of Egypt, known as the Hermitess Photini, a Syrian woman who fled into the desert just beyond the Jordan in 1884, where she lived in a cave unknown to the world until 1890, when she was discovered by Fr. Joachim Spetsieris, her biographer. Hermitess Photini reposed in the Lord around 1928.