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The Blessed Woman Thais

The Blessed Woman Thais - St Shenouda Monastery Pimonakhos Articles

And now I desire to narrate to you the excellent history and the great repentance of the blessed woman, Thais. For speech concerning her is most excellent, and it is full of encouragement and penitence of soul to those who love God. This woman had a mother who, because her daughter was beautiful of face, made her to take up a position in the market, and the rumor of her beauty travelled to every place, and those who were living afar off desired greatly to see her; and no man who looked upon her was satisfied with the sight of her face, because she burned like a flame of fire into the hearts of those who saw her, and many by reason of their mad love for her sold whatever property they had to her parents that they might have commerce with her.

When St Bessarion, the servant of God, heard these things concerning this woman and that through her beauty she was dragging many to destruction, he arrayed himself in the apparel of a man who was in the world, and took with him one dinar and went to her, and when he saw her he brought forth the dinar and gave it to her; and having taken the dinar she said to him, “Let us go into a room,” and he said to her, “Yes, let us go in.”

Having gone in, the blessed man Bessarion saw the couch which was laid out, now it was a very high one, and the woman said to the old man, “Come, get up on this bed”; and he said to her, “Have you not inside this chamber, another room?” and she said to him, “Yes.” Then he said to her, “Let us then: go in there.” Thais answered and said to him, “If it is that you are ashamed of men seeing you, know that no man can see us in this chamber; but if it be God of Whom you are afraid He can see us in whatever place we enter.”

The blessed man Bessarion hearing these words, said to her, “My daughter, do you know that God exists?” She said to him, “Yes, I know that God exists, and that there will be kingdom, and judgement.” Then the old man said to her, “If you know that God exists, and that there will be kingdom and judgement, why do you destroy men in this manner?” Immediately the woman cast herself at his feet, and said to him, “I know that there is repentance for those who sin. But I beseech you, master, to tarry with me for three hours, and whatsoever you wish to do to me that do because of all the evil things which have been done by me.” Having told her in what place he would await her he left her and went away.

Then in that same hour the woman took everything which she had gained by fornication and burnt it with fire in the midst of the city, and she said, “Come, all you who have had commerce with me, and see that I am burning before your eyes every possession which I have gathered together by means of sin”; and the things which were burned were worth three hundred pounds of gold, and there were also goods and apparel of all kinds; and after she had burned up everything she went to the blessed man Bessarion.

When Bessarion saw her he took her by her hand and led her along and brought her to a religious house of sisters, and he shut her in a little cell, leaving her only one small window in the wall through which a woman passed in food to her. The blessed Bessarion said to the head of the house, “Give her a pound of dry bread each day, and water according to her need.” Then the blessed woman Thais said to the venerable Bessarion, “With what petition do you command me to pray to God, that He should forgive me my sins?” The blessed Bessarion said to her, “You are neither worthy to pray to God, nor to make mention of His Name with your lips, nor to stretch out your hands to Him; for your lips are unclean and polluted, and your hands are contaminated with impurity; you shall only sit down and gaze towards the East, and you shall say nothing except, ‘O You who did create me, have mercy upon me.’”

Having dwelt in that cell for a space of about three years, the blessed Bessarion had mercy upon her, and the blessed man went to Abba Anthony that he might learn from him whether God had forgiven her sins or not. Then having spoken concerning her to Anthony that blessed man called to his disciples, and said to them, “Let each one of you shut himself in his cell all night, and pray to God that we may see to whom shall be revealed the matter concerning which the blessed Bessarion has come to us this day.”

When they all had done as they had been commanded and when a long time had elapsed, the blessed Paul, the chief of the disciples of Saint Anthony, looked into the heavens and saw a couch which had been spread with great splendor, and three angels who were carrying three lamps were standing before that couch, and a crown of glory was laid upon it. Having seen all this glorious sight, he said, “This couch can only be for my father Anthony.” Then a voice came to him from heaven, saying, “This couch is not for Anthony, your father, but for Thais the harlot.” The blessed Paul rose up early in the morning and related the vision, which he had seen.

The blessed Saint Bessarion came back from Abby Anthony in great joy, and he went to the religious house of the sisterhood, and he opened the door that he might bring the woman out from the cell in which she was secluded; but she made entreaty to him, saying, “Leave me here until my death, for my sins are many.” Then the blessed man said to her, “Behold the merciful God has had compassion upon you, and He has accepted your repentance.” Then she wished to go forth from her cell. She answered and said to him, “Believe me, 0 Father, from the day in which I entered this cell I have made all my sins a mighty burden and I have set it before my eyes, in such a way that as the breath of my nostrils have not separated itself from me, so my sins have not separated themselves from me until this hour.”

The blessed Bessarion answered and said to her, “God has not forgiven your sins because of your repentance, but because of the thought which you had that you would deliver yourself over to Christ.” This blessed woman Thais lived after her repentance fifteen days, and departed to our Lord in peace. Thus was the crowning of the blessed Thais, who was lost and found, and was dead and came to life by the grace of Christ, to Whom belong mercy, and compassion, and glory, and honor, forever and ever. Amen.