Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

mary_of_alexandria

Upon the death of Mary’s mother, her father, Evgenios, resolved to dedicate his life completely to God; therefore, he became a monk. Mary also desired to betroth herself to Christ. However, she did not wish to be separated from her father. Hence, our venerable mother discarded her feminine apparel and donned men’s clothing. She then cropped her hair in a manly fashion and assumed the name of Marinos. Under this disguise, she entered the very same monastery as her father near Alexandria of Egypt. Soon after, however, her father reposed in the Lord.

Mary was then tonsured and kept the name of Marinos. Though her tasks (obediences) involved laboring with the younger monks, no one ever thought that the young Fr. Marinos might be a woman.

Nearby the monastery, there was an inn. Once, it became necessary, during a monastic obedience outside the monastery, that Fr. Marinos lodge at the inn. The innkeeper’s wayward daughter, believing that Fr. Marinos was a man, burned with desire for the young monk. After pursuing the monk and humiliating herself when repulsed by Mary, the wanton innkeeper’s daughter sought revenge. She accused the righteous Fr. Marinos of seducing her. She did this because she already had illicit relations with a soldier and had conceived by him.

Mary gladly accepted this false accusation and the reproach that went with it. She even went so far as to admit that she committed sin with the innkeeper’s daughter. In time, the innkeeper’s daughter brought forth a son. At this point, Mary was expelled from the monastery when the newborn was entrusted to her. Henceforth, she was expected to support and bring up the lad.

The responsibility, anxiety, and care of rearing and feeding another’s infant was something that the ever-memorable one voluntarily endured with much hardship and public scorn. During this time, the innkeeper’s daughter went mad when she became possessed by an evil demon. After three years of enduring deprivation, Mary, inspired by God, re-entered the same monastery again, together with her foster son.

It was there that she dwelt until her blessed repose in 508. When preparations were being made for the burial, it was only then discovered that Monk Marinos was actually a woman. When the innkeeper’s daughter touched the precious relics of Mary, she was immediately healed from demonic possession, and admitted that the actual father was some soldier.

At this unexpected turn of events, the abbot of the monastery and all the brotherhood, who formerly accused the holy one of being wretched and depraved, now called Mary blessed and worthy of great honor. "The Lives of the Spiritual Mothers," (Buena Vista, California: Holy Apostles Convent, 1991), pp. 70-72







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