Chapel of St.Mary of Egypt
outside the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the right when facing the front door of the church, is a set of stairs that ascend to the Chapel of the Franks. Just below that chapel, around to the side of the stairs, is the entrance to the Chapel of St. Mary of Egypt. This chapel is a Greek Orthodox chapel.
The ChapeJustl of St. Mary of Egypt is home to numerous pieces of artwork and religious expressions. Perhaps the most interesting piece is the actual icon of the Virgin Mary that changed the life of St. Mary of Egypt. That icon is metal and is in the shape of a rectangle but has rounded corners and rounded edges. The image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, faded drastically. The image of Mary is framed by a rope looking adornment. Various pieces of jewelry are hanging on the icon.
For the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, and Roman Catholic churches, St. Mary of Egypt is revered as the patron saint of penitents. Born somewhere in Egypt, Mary of Egypt lived a rough, sinful life. At the age of twelve, she ran away from her home to go to the city of Alexandria. Here, her life of excessive sin started. She worked as a prostitute but often would refuse money for her sexual acts because she enjoyed doing them so much. Thus, she mainly lived by begging and gave away the sexual favors for fun.
At the age of seventeen, she traveled to Jerusalem for the Great Feasts of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Her reason for going on the trip was to provide more sexual favors for those who were traveling that way. She had no desire to worship or experience God on the journey. She earned the money she needed by selling her body and continued that while in Jerusalem.
While in Jerusalem, she tried to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the feast, but she was hindered from entering by an unseen force. She came to realize that because she was impure, she could not enter. Her heart was filled with remorse. She then noticed an icon of the Virgin Mary outside of the church. Convicted in her heart, she prayed for forgiveness and promised to give up the world and her desires that she had been living out. She attempted to enter the church again and was able to walk in. She worshiped and then returned to the icon to give thanks. A voice spoke to her telling her that if she crossed the Jordan, she would find a place of rest and peace. After receiving absolution and taking Holy Communion at the monastery of St. John the Baptist on the bank of the Jordan River, she crossed the Jordan to live the rest of her life as a hermit in penitence. She carried three loaves of bread with her. When the bread was gone, she lived on what she could find in the wilderness.
The church remembers her life as one lived receiving the forgiveness of her sins then living in communion with God, giving up all the ways of the world.