Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Thais

Mary Garden as Saint Thaïs the Penitent in Massenet's opera 'Thaïs', c.1907, photographer unknownArticle

(Thaisis or Thaisia). A penitent in Egypt in the fourth century. In the Greek menology her name occurs on 8 October, it is found also in the martyrologies of Maurolychus and Greven, but not in the Roman. Two lives are extant, one, originally in Greek, perhaps in the fifth century, the other in verse, by Marbod, Bishop of Rennes, who died in 1123. The saint is represented burning her treasures and ornaments, or praying in a cell and displaying a scroll with the words: “Thou who didst create me have mercy on me”. According to the legend Thais was a public sinner in Egypt who was converted by St. Paphnutius, brought to a convent and enclosed in a cell. After three years of penance she was released and placed among the nuns, but lived only fourteen days more. The name of the hermit is given also as Bessarion and Serapion the Sidonite. Delahaye says, “If the legend is historical the hermit must have been Paphnutius”.

MLA Citation

  • Francis Mershman. “Saint Thais”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 October 2016. Web. 29 July 2021. <>