|Saint Mary of Egypt - Died
According to the Golden Legend, St. Mary of Egypt was an Egyptian prostitute who at the age of 29 traveled to Jerusalem out of curiosity regarding the Holy Cross. Finding herself incapable of passing the threshold of the church where the cross was being worshiped, she repented her sins and became a solitary contemplative in the desert beyond the Jordan River, where she eventually died at a very advanced age, her clothes having rotted away with the passage of time. Two years before her death St. Mary of Egypt was discovered by a monk named Zosimus, who buried her when her time came, aided by a lion who used his claws to dig the grave. (Compare St. Anthony Abbot's burial of St. Paul the Hermit.)
In images, St. Mary of Egypt's nakedness may be covered by her hair, as at left, or simply displayed, as in this Russian icon. Tintoretto's painting gets around the nakedness problem by showing her at the beginning of her contemplative years, before the clothes have rotted away. In the Tintoretto, as in the statue at left, a book serves as an attribute expressing her vocation as a contemplative.
Feast day: April 2
At left, a statue in Burgos, Spain
A painting from the 20th century