Saint Macrina the Younger, Virgin

July 19

Today is the feast day of Saint Macrina the Younger.  Ora pro nobis.

Macrina was born in 327 in Cesarea, the eldest child of Basil and Emmelia. She was the granddaughter of St. Macrina the Elder and sister of St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Peter of Sebastea. Her mother based herself on the Book of Wisdom of Scriptures to raise her children, and used to chant the psaltery with them.

At age 12, Macrina was engaged to be married.  When her fiancé died, she decided she would not marry. She dedicated her life to help raise her brothers well and to assist her mother. After her siblings had grown up and were completely formed, they used to call her Macrina the Great.  On the death of their father, Basil took her, with their mother, to a family estate on the River Iris, in Pontus.  She is recognized and honored as one of the most prominent nuns of the Easter Church, and she founded an order on the family’s estate in Pontus, where many religious women flourished in their faith ender her direction.

With her brother, Peter, she constructed both a monastery and convent. Macrina embraced an ascetic life, living in austerity, and spending much time in contemplation and prayer. Her brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, wrote a work entitled Life of Macrina in which he describes her sanctity throughout her life.

When she became gravely ill and was close to death, St. Gregory of Nyssa went to see her. He found her laying on a wood board and wearing a hair-shirt. He carefully lifted her and placed her on a bed. The dying woman, seeing her last hour was at hand, remembered all the good things God had given her during her lifetime and gave glory to Him. She said: “Oh, Lord! Thou didst destroy the fear of death. Because of Thy sacrifice, true life begins when the present life finishes. We will sleep for a while and then, to the sound of the trumpet, we will resurrect. Thou didst save us from the curse of the sin, redeeming us from both sin and its curse.” 

Kissing an iron Crucifix that held the relics of the Cross of the Savior, which she always had close to her, St. Macrina serenely died in the year 379. She was buried beside her parents.

Image: St. Macrina the Younger (fresco in Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev) (4)

Research by REGINA Staff



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