From its origins in the fourth and fifth centuries, first in monastic circles and then in wider Christian communities, the story of Mary of Egypt was wildly popular. From early Christianity through the medieval periods, from Egypt to Scandinavia, verse lives in Greek, Latin, and vernacular languages portray her as the model of repentance. Continuously venerated in the liturgy and icons of the Orthodox Churches, she is now seldom known in the West. This modern verse life and the accompanying essay reintroduces St. Mary’s extraordinary life, its theological and spiritual implications, and its remarkable depiction of gender complementarity.
Bonnie B. Thurston, after years as a university and seminary professor, lives quietly in her home state of West Virginia. She is the author of many books on Scripture and spirituality and six books of poetry. These include Liturgical Press publications Shaped by the End You Live For: Thomas Merton’s Monastic Spirituality; Maverick Mark: The Untamed First Gospel; The Spiritual Landscape of Mark; Philippians in the Sacra Pagina series; and Belonging to Borders: A Sojourn in the Celtic Tradition (poetry).
"This study of Mary of Egypt is in two parts: a poetic life and a scholarly analysis. It is a perfect combination of art and science that offers the clearest and most compassionate study of the saint that I have read."
Joyce E. Salisbury, Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
"Bonnie Thurston has produced with this her latest offering a very creative and inspiring work on the ancient Christian figure St. Mary of Egypt. Through the masterful use of poetry and prose, Dr. Thurston weaves a beautiful tapestry on the very fabric of life and witness of this mother of the desert. I believe that this book will be read in the decades to come as a foundational text by those who are new and old to the story of this legendary saint."
Dr. John G. Panagiotou, Orthodox theologian and scholar
"This volume provides us with a double pleasure. First, we have a sensitive version of the life done by Thurston. Second, we get a capacious study of how her life was received and expanded in the history of hagiography and spirituality. There is much to savor and instruct in this book."
Lawrence Cunningham, The University of Notre Dame
"Bonnie Thurston’s presentation of the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt combines two elements: a sparkling verse rendering of the Life, that not only retells the story but also touches the feelings in a way that highlights the importance of personal conversion. This is buttressed by a preliminary summary of the plot of the Life and a review of its literary and theological characteristics. An attractive and original version of the Life that will certainly help readers to make contact with its profound spiritual meaning."
Michael Casey, OCSO