Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
Saint of the day:
Saint Mary of Egypt
Patron Saint of Chastity (warfare against the flesh; deliverance from carnal passions);
Demons (deliverance from); Fever; Skin diseases; Temptations of the flesh
The Story of Saint Mary of Egypt
In Cyril of Scythopolis' life of St. Cyryacus, he tells of a woman named Mary found by Cyryacus and his companions living as a hermitess in the Jordanian desert. She told him she had been a famous singer and actress who had sinned and was doing penance in the desert. When they returned, she was dead. Around the story was built an elaborate legend that had tremendous popularity during the Middle Ages according to which she was an Egyptian who went to Alexandria when she was twelve and lived as an actress and courtesan for seventeen years. She was brought to the realization of her evil life before an icon of the Blessed Virgin, and at Mary's direction, went to the desert east of Palestine, where she lived as a hermitess for forty-seven years, not seeing a single human being and beset by all kinds of temptations, which were mitigated by her prayers to the Blessed Virgin. She was discovered about 430 by a holy man named Zosimus, who was impressed by her spiritual knowledge and wisdom. He saw her the following Lent, but when he returned, he found her dead and buried her. When he returned to his monastery near the Jordan, he told the brethren what had happened and the story spread. Her feast day is April 2.
The Cave of Saint Mary of Egypt
On the Jordan side of the Jordan River, near the site of the Baptism of Christ and where the Prophet Elijah was taken up by a chariot, is the site known as the Cave of Mary of Egypt, where she lived in asceticism. However, this place is very unlikely to have been the actual Cave of Mary of Egypt, since it is too close to the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos, from which Zosimas departed. According to the Life of Venerable Mary of Egypt, Zosimas walked twenty days into the desert in order to find some holy ascetic, when he came upon Mary of Egypt. It seems rather that this cave belonged to an imitator of Saint Mary of Egypt, known as the Hermitess Photini, a Syrian woman who fled into the desert just beyond the Jordan in 1884, where she lived in a cave unknown to the world until 1890, when she was discovered by Fr. Joachim Spetsieris, her biographer. Hermitess Photini reposed in the Lord around 1928.
Charmoula is a North African green sauce scented with lemons, cumin, chile, and garlic. You'll want to slather it on everything. On many a summer week, when I don't have a complete menu planned and am feeling short on ideas, I'll make a green sauce of some sort.
Makes: enough for 4 servings, with leftovers
1 cup (20g) packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup (20g) packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems
2 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Large pinch of Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup (175ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Combine the parsley, cilantro, scallions, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt, Aleppo pepper, and lemon zest in a bowl of a food processor. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pulse in the vinegar. The charmoula should be loose enough to drop from a spoon; if not, add more oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning.