Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mary of Egypt

By the roots of my hair some god got hold of me.
I sizzled in his blue volts like a desert prophet.

From "The Hanging Man" by Sylvia Plath

St. Mary of Egypt--Death in the Desert, Emil Nolde, 1912.

*St. Mary of Egypt is my latest obsession, for literary rather than religious reasons. She's a fascinating character, and the evolution of her legend is a study in the dramatic effect a subtle shift in narrative can produce. An article on St. Mary of Egypt is here, and you can read St. Sophronius' The Life of Our Holy Mother Mary of Egypt here. There is a John Tavener opera about Mary of Egypt, which alas, does not see to be available online, though you can sample it at Amazon. If that whets your appetite for more Tavener, go here for a wonderful short piece of his on YouTube.

If you know of literary, artistic or musical treatments of the legend of Mary of Egypt, please share them with me in the comments, or send me an email. Thanks.


Bozo said...

Fascinating story. I'd never heard it. And: "I sizzled in his blue volts like a desert prophet" is wonderful. Great post.

BitterGrace said...

Mary of Egypt gets a lot of attention in the Eastern Orthodox church, not so much from the Catholics. It is a fascinating story, especially in some of its details.