On the fifth Sunday of Great Lent the Church commemorates our Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt who lived a life of asceticism in the desert. The Church dedicates this Sunday to St. Mary as she is an example of repentance having turned away from the pleasures of the flesh to live the rest of her life in repentance and struggle. Reading the life of St. Mary of Egypt should be an inspiration to us all to redouble our efforts in prayer, fasting and almsgiving especially as we now enter the last week of the forty days fast and start to prepare for Great Week.
The life of Mary of Egypt is read during matins on Thursday of the fifth week of the fast, the day of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. This service is normally chanted on Wednesday evening rather than Thursday morning. The life of St. Mary is the only life of a saint that is read as an integral part of an Orthodox service giving us an indication of the honour the Church gives her. The Church appoints her life to be read at this time to serve as an accompaniment to the Great Canon which is a canon of repentance.
Saint Mary of Egypt is also commemorated on 1st/14th April.
The icon below was painted by the sisters of the Convent of St. Elizabeth, Etna CA and was donated by a parishioner.