St. Mary (aka Marinos)

According to her vita, Mary, with hair cut short, dressed like a man, & renamed Marinos, followed her father into a monastery where she lived undetected as a monk. Remaining in the monastery after her father’s death, “Marinos” was eventually accused of fathering a child. She did not deny her “crime,” but voluntarily accepted severe punishment & raised the infant in the monastery. Her sex, & with it her innocence of the paternity charges, was not revealed until after her death. Although the story does not locate Mary in any specific historical or geographical context, it has been suggested that the original vita was written in Greek sometime between the early 6th & mid-7th centuries, probably in Syria. She is commemorated in the Synaxarion of Constantinople on 12 February

More than a dozen different monastic vitae were composed on this theme, which seems to have originated in the 2nd cent. CE Acts of St. Thekla. One reads of St. Anastasia Patrikia, who fled the advances of the emperor Justinian (& the jealousy of his wife Theodora) by hiding in the Egyptian desert as the monk Anastasios, or St. Matrona of Perge, whose masquerade as the monk Babylas was exposed by her pierced earlobes, or St. Euphrosyne of Alexandria, who, as Smaragdos, was removed to an isolated cell when “he” became a source of temptation to the other monks.

Holy Women of Byzantium: Ten Saints’ Lives, Talbot, Alice-Mary, ed.

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