The existence of Saint Thais is improbable and her story seems to serve as a pious fiction. There is an almost identical story about a Saint Pelagia from Antioch which suggests that the two lives are probably different retellings of the same story.

Thais was a wealthy prostitute in Egypt during the fourth century – the century that gave birth to the monastic fervour that gripped Egypt and the east – who had been brought up and educated a Christian, but whose life was an utter contradiction. 

On meeting a desert hermit who pointed out the incoherence of her life and her beliefs, she repented and was so filled with sorrow that she burned all the riches she had earned through selling herself and fled to a monastery of nuns in the desert where she did penance for three years in solitary confinement. At the end of the three years she died, having been completely transformed by the merciful grace of God into a saint.


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