St. Mary of Edessa was born in Syria in the 4th century. Her parents died when she was young and she went to live with her uncle Abraham Kidunaia, a hermit. She followed her uncle’s example and lived as an anchoress for 20 years.
One day when she was visiting her uncle, a monk caught sight of her and sought to seduce her. He spent a year befriending her until she gave herself to him. Horrified by her own sin, Mary tore her tunic and was terrified of facing her uncle in disgrace. She ran away, thinking that she could not be redeemed. In despair, she assumed she was a tarnished woman and might as well go live in a brothel.
Her uncle did not know what had happened. All he could do was to pray for her return. Two years later, he received news that she was a prostitute. He hadn’t left his hermitage in years, but he immediately went to the brothel where Mary lived and begged her to come home. She had thought he would be angry and disgusted by her, but he showed only love and concern.
She returned to her home and began a life of penance and prayer. People were drawn to her spiritual zeal and visited her cell.
October 29 is the feast day of St. Mary of Edessa and her uncle St. Abraham Kidunaia. She is a patron against sexual temptation.