Saint of the Day – 4 April – St Zosimus of Palestine (c 460-c 560) Priest, Monk, Hermit. As already reported in the legendary life of St Mary of Egypt, St Zosimus, a Monk and Hermit, is the one who discovers the St Mary in the desert and gave her Holy Communion shortly before her death. When she died, he buried her and related her lifestory (as she had related it to him) to his fellow Monks, who in turn finally recorded it in writing.
The Roman Martyrology reports: “In Palestine, the Anchorite, St Zosimus, who buried the remains of St Mary of Egypt.”
Zosimas was born in the second half of the fifth century, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II. He became a Monk in a Monastery in Palestine at a very young age. At the age of fifty-three, he moved to a very strict Monastery located in the wilderness close to the Jordan River, where he spent the remainder of his life. He is best known for his encounter with Mary of Egypt, as we read below from her Vita:
“Approximately one year before her death, she recounted her life to Saint Zosimas of Palestine (c 460-c 560), who encountered her in the desert. When he unexpectedly met her in the desert, she was completely naked and almost unrecognisable as human. She asked St Zosimas to give her his mantle to cover her nakedness and then she narrated her life’s story to him.
She then asked him to meet her at the banks of the Jordan, on Holy Thursday of the following year and bring her Holy Communion. When he fulfilled her wish, she crossed the river to get to him by walking on the surface of the water and received Holy Communion, asking him to meet her again in the desert the following Lent.
The next year, St Zosimas travelled to the same spot where he first met her, some twenty days’ journey from his Monastery and found her lying there dead. According to an inscription written in the sand next to her head, she had died on the very night he had given her the Blessed Sacrament and had been somehow miraculously transported to the place he found her. Her body was preserved incorrupt.
He buried her body with the assistance of a passing lion. On returning to the Monastery, he related her life story to the brethren and it was preserved among them, as oral tradition, until it was written down by St Sophronius.”
St Mary’s life: