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THAYSIS:  text is taken from Caxton's English version of the Golden Legend (Ellis edition)

S. Thais or Thaisis

Here followeth of S. Thais or Thaisis, and first of her name.

Thais is said of taphos, that is to say death, for she was cause of the death of many that died for her in sin. Or she is said of thalos, that is to say delight, for she was delicious to men, and accomplished all worldly delights, or she is said of thalamo, that is will or affection of martiage, for at the last she had will to be married to God by great penance.

Of S. Thaisis.

Thaisis, as it is read in Vitas Patrum, was a common woman, and of so great beauty that many followed her, and sold all their substance, that they came unto the utterest poverty. And they that were her lovers fought for her, and strove for jealousy, so that they otherwhile slew each other, and thereof her house was oft full of blood of young men that drew to her. Which thing came to the knowledge of a holy abbot named Pafuntius, and he took on him secular habit, and a shilling in his purse, and went to her in a city of Egypt, and gave to her a shilling, that is to say twelve pence, as it had been cause for to sin with her. And when she had taken this money, she said to him: Let us enter into the chamber here within. And when they were both entered into the chamber, she said to him that he should go into the bed, which was preciously adorned with clothes; then said he to her: If there be any more secret place here, let us go thereto; and then she led him into divers secret places; and he said always he doubted to be seen. And she said to him: There is within a place where no man entereth, and there shall no man see us but God, and if thou dread him there is no place that may be hid from him. And when the old man heard that, he said to her: And knowest thou that there is a God? And she answered: I know that there is a God, and a realm of a to-coming world, for them that shall be saved, and also torments in hell for sinners. And he said to her: If thou knowest this, wherefore hast thou lost so many souls? And thou shalt not only give accounts for thine own sin, but thou must reckon them that by thee have sinned. And when she heard this, she kneeled down to the feet of the abbot Pafuntius, and sore weeping, she prayed him to receive her to penance, saying: Father, I acknowledge me penitent and contrite, and trust verily by thy prayer that I shall have remission and forgiveness of my sins. I ask of thee but the space of three hours, and after that I shall go whithersomever thou wilt, and shall do that which thou shalt command me. And when he had given to her that term and assigned her whither she should come, then she took all those goods that she had won with sin, and brought them into the middle of the city tofore the people, and burnt them in the fire, saying: Come ye forth all that have sinned with me, and see ye how I burn that which ye have given to me. And the value of the goods that she burnt was of five hundred pounds of gold. And when she had all burnt it, she went to the place which the abbot had assigned to her. And there was a monastery of virgins, and there he closed her in a cell, and sealed the door with lead. And the cell was little and straight, and but one little window open, by which was ministered of her poor living. For the abbot commanded that they should give to her a little bread and water. And when the abbot should depart, Thaisis said to him: Father, where shall I shed the water, and that which shall come from the conduits of nature? And he said to her: In thy cell, as thou art worthy. And then she demanded how she should pray, and he answered: Thou art not worthy to name God, ne that the name of the Trinity be in thy mouth, ne stretch thy hands to heaven, because thy lips be full of iniquities, and thine hands full of evil attouchings, and foul ordures, but look only towards the east and say oft of these words: Qui plasmasti me, miserere mei, Lord that hast formed me, have mercy on me. And when she had been there three years closed, the abbot Pafuntius remembered and sorrowed, and went to the abbot Anthony for to require of him if God had forgiven her her sins. And the cause told, S. Anthony called his disciples and commanded them that they should all wake that night and be in prayer so that God should declare to some of them the cause why the abbot Pafuntius was come. And then as they prayed without ceasing, the abbot Paul, the greatest disciple of S. Anthony, saw suddenly in heaven a bed arrayed with precious vestments, which three virgins arrayed, with clear visages. And these three virgins were named, the first was Dread which drew Thaisis from evil, and the second Shame of the sins that she committed, and that made her to deserve pardon, and the third was Love of Righteousness, which brought her to high sovereign place. And when Paul had said to him that the grace of this vision was only by the merits of S. Anthony, a goodly voice answered that it was not only by the merits of Anthony, his father, but by the merit of Thaisis, the sinner. And on the morn when the abbot Paul recounted his vision, and they had known the will of God, the abbot Pafuntius departed with great joy and went anon to the monastery where she was, and opened the door of the cell. And she prayed him that she might yet abide there enclosed in, and the abbot said to her, Issue and go out, for God hath forgiven to thee thy sins. And she answered: I take God to witness that sith I entered herein I have made of all my sins a sum, and have set them tofore mine eyes, and like as the breath departeth not from the mouth and the nostrils, so the sins departed never from mine eyes, but always have bewept them. To whom the abbot Pafuntius said: God hath not pardoned thee thy sins for thy penance, but because that thou hast had always dread in thy courage. And he took her out from thence, and she lived after, fifteen days, and then she rested in our Lord.

The abbot Effrem converted in like wise another common woman, for when that common woman would have drawn S. Effrem for to have sinned dishonestly, he said to her: Follow me, and she followed. And when they came in a place where a great multitude of men were, he said to her, Sit down here, that I may have to do with thee; and she said: How may I do this among so great multitude of people here standing? And he said, If thou be ashamed of the people, thou oughtest to have greater shame of God which seeth all things hid, and she went away all ashamed.

© The segmented texts, annotations and audio files at are copyrighted by Laura Gibbs, 2006. No copyright is claimed for any images.