Roman Catholic and Orthodox Saint. She is most remembered for her miraculous deeds, such as walking on water, and that her body mummified after her death. Leaving home at the age of twelve, she was said to have been an exotic dancer and a lustful, promiscuous woman in Alexandria, Egypt with some accounts calling her a prostitute. At the age of seventeen, she joined a pilgrimage to Jerusalem paying her passage by offering sexual favors to other pilgrims. According to her “Vita” as recorded by the ecclesiastical scholars including St. Sophronius, at the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, she had an epiphany and became remorseful of her impure life. She then prayed for forgiveness, promising to leave the world in repentance. She then traveled to the monastery of St. John the Baptist on the bank of the Jordan River, where she received absolution from her sins and received Holy Communion. The following day, taking only three loaves of bread, she crossed the Jordan River retreating into the desert to live the rest of her life as a hermit feeding herself with the bounty of nature. After 47 years, she was located by an elderly St. Zosimas of Palestine, who discovered her naked and emaciated. Calling him by his name, she asked for his cloak to cover herself, which he gave but was surprised that she knew his name. No only did she know his name, but knew he was a priest calling him “Abba” asking for blessings. At this point, she began to tell her story. He gave her Holy Communion and they prayed together. As she prayed, he saw her floating in the air. She reportedly asked that he meet her a year later to give her communion. As she left crossing the Jordan River, it is recorded that she walked on water. The next year, he found her dead, and according to a note in the sand, she died the night after he gave her communion, yet her body had not decayed but mummified. Legend has it that he transported her body from that site burying her on the banks of the Jordan River with the aid of a lion. He repeated her story, which was passed orally for 200 or more years until St. Sophronius recorded it. There are various recordings of her death date varying from 421, 444, 454, 522, 526, 531 and others, but the “Catholic Encyclopedia” has her dates as being “born probably about 344 and died about 421”. The Greek Orthodox Church celebrates her feast on April 1st, while the Roman Martyrology assigns it to April 2nd, and the Roman Calendar of Saints has it on April 3rd. She is regarded as the patron of chastity; deliverance from demons, and temptation of the flesh. In iconic art, she is often depicted as as sun-browned, emaciated old woman with unkempt hair, who is either naked or cover with the Zasimas' borrowed cloak. She is often shown with three loaves of bread. Her relics have been distributed through many churches, and have been venerated at Romes, Naples, Cremona, Antwerp, in Croatia along with others. She is also known as Maria Aegyptica. Her mummified tongue is on displayed in a glass reliquary at St. Blaise Church for religious, scientific and historical reasons. It is believe that it was brought to the church on July 23, 1818 by painter Gaetano Gresler, who saved thousands of artifacts from Napoleon. The journey of this tongue prior to 1818 is not well-documented.
Bio by: Iola