Saints for October
OCTOBER 8th /SAINT THAIS: THE FORMER HARLOT
It is somewhat ironic how many former female saints started out in the world’s “oldest profession.” Saint Thais is a case in point. Her own mother sold her into a brothel when she was only 17 in the 3rd century Alexandria. Thais was apparently quite beautiful which resulted in her using her feminine charms into acquiring a large lucrative fortune. She would have been by our standards a “high class” escort, in those times a “courtesan.” Now the curious part of her story was how her conversion happened. It seems that a monk, St. Serapion, had heard of her lusty reputation. He was so moved with compassion for her (hmmm? what moved I wonder?) that he disguised himself as a normal man, went to her brothel, offered her a gold coin and proceeded into her chamber. When they were at last alone, he took off his tunic revealing his monastic garb. Instead of binding her in an act of sin, he proceeded to profusely pronounce the love of Christ for her. He explained the way of all sinners and how she might by repentance be saved. In his outpouring of rhetoric, he apparently melted her heart for the love of the divine. She quickly ran to the public square and burned all her coutre pieces, equivalent today of setting fire to her Manolo Blatniks, a few Guess outfits, MK jeans, and the like, and then retiring to a women’s monastery.
St. Serapion took her under his wing as his spiritual charge and instructed her to eat only every other day and engage in other ascetic exercises. She soon surpassed her monastic sisters in her struggles. So vivid was her repentance that even St. Anthony the Great saw in a vision that her repentance was guaranteed and that she was found worthy of God’s mercy. Her spiritual father was able to rest easy even when she went to her rest after spending only 15 days in the common life of the monastery after she was told to extract herself from her cell, a place she had spent the last three years of her life. I think she made up for all her previous sins.