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Liturgical Press

Saint Mary of Egypt

A Modern Verse Life and Interpretation

Bonnie B. Thurston, Foreword by Benedicta Ward, SLG

Saint Mary of Egypt SEE INSIDE
Saint Mary of Egypt

ISBN: 9780879071165, MW065P

Details: 136 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 3/8
Publication Date: 12/21/2021
Cistercian Publications
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2022 Catholic Media Association second place award in mysticism

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).

ISBN: 9780879071165, MW065P

Details: 136 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 3/8
Publication Date: 12/21/2021
Cistercian Publications


"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

"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

"Poet Bonnie Thurston creates a reverent yet playful rendition that places this itinerant saint and her story at the center of the narrative. In addition to the poems, the book includes a foreword by medieval studies scholar Benedicta Ward, a substantive introduction, and an essay on the meaning of Mary of Egypt for our contemporary moment."
Christian Century

"Readers are indebted to Thurston that her ongoing fascination with and devotion to Saint Mary of Egypt, coupled with her extensive research into her story, has resulted in a fine readable verse-tale, accompanied by thorough historical, literary, and theological background. This little book is a stirring affirmation of the mercy of God that is available to all."
Christianity & Literature

"Packed full of insights from a historic point of view and, more importantly, from that of spirituality."

"Fascinating book undertaking the topic of Mary of Egypt, venerated in Orthodox Church as 'the model of repentance.' The author tells a history in both academic study and modern verse."
Catholic Media Association

"Bonnie Thurston's, Saint Mary of Egypt, provides an engaging and thought-provoking introduction to the once popular saint whose story has faded from prominence. This concise and accessible book could provide students with a stimulating introduction to this extraordinary figure."
Catholic Books Review

"Bonnie Thurston is to be thanked for splendid work here in bringing us back into connection with a remarkable woman of faith and strength, Saint Mary of Egypt."
Cistercian Studies Quarterly

"Bonnie Thurston's poetry and book deserve a wide readership, and our gratitude for bringing us back once again to the glorious Mary of Egypt."

"This book provides access to a figure shrouded in mystery and asks questions about the power of legend, establishing a desire and conversion as important aspects of the Christian tradition of holiness."
National Catholic Reporter

"This modern verse life offers to modern readers one of the most important figures of conversion from early monasticism, a figure whose story of repentance and grace is no less powerful and needed today. May readers find themselves rethinking about categories of sinner and saint in light of the God who loves both."
American Benedictine Review

"This book is a delight."
The Julian Meetings Magazine

"This volume is a good addition to the Monastic Wisdom Series, and those who are interested in the life of a very different saint will want to read this and will enjoy the very relaxed style of poetry into which the life has been translated."
The Downside Review

"Saint Mary of Egypt, hugely popular in the Middle Ages, has become increasingly so in recent decades. This volume differs from such publications in that it proposes a modern verse life of Saint Mary, thereby extending and developing the living tradition of this well-loved saint."
Irish Theological Quarterly

"One of the most popular stories to come out of the Christian monastic tradition- in both Eastern and Western Christianity from the sixth to the sixteenth century - is back! Why was the life of Saint Mary of Egypt so popular and why is it coming back into fashion? Thurston shows how its appeal is both perennial and specific to each era."