Our Mother St Mary the Egyptian stands as one of the great ascetics of Christendom and a model of the ascetic life for all who would obey Christ’s command to leave the ties of the world, take up their cross and follow Him. Hers is a devotion to God of the deepest sort, and a dedication to the attainment of the Kingdom that has served as an inspiration, beakon and support for millions of Christians over the better part of nearly two millennia. This is the holy life, this is the great spiritual impact had by a solitary woman who, by the precious account of her life, was so marred by sin that she could not physically enter into the temple. Yet Christ’s forgiveness is absolute, and there is no sinner so far fallen, Mary’s life seems to say, that God cannot lift him up into new life. Indeed, the scope and breadth of the gifts given to St Mary in response to her great love for God are mysterious and wonderful, for some even beyond belief. But as St. Sophronius, Mary’s biographer, wrote, such disbelief arises only when we, ‘reflecting on the weakness of human nature, consider impossible the wonderful things accomplished by holy people’.
God does indeed work great and wonderful things through those who love Him, as the life of St Mary of Egypt shows. It is a text that should be read again and again, contemplated deeply, probed for its great message. St Mary herself left no written works, no texts and no treatises; but her story is known throughout the world through the words of this life. It is among the great treasures left to us by the early Church.