St. Macrina the Younger (c. 330-79) Feast: West August 12 East July 19

Macrina was the eldest of the ten children of St Basil the Elder and St Emmelia. She was born about the year 330 in Caesarea in Cappadocia and at the age of twelve was betrothed to be married. When her fiance died suddenly, however, she vowed not to marry and remained at home to help in the education of her brothers, among whom were St Basil the Great (2 Jan.), St Peter of Sebaste, and St Gregory of Nyssa (9 Mar.).

Later Basil established his mother and Macrina on an estate which had belonged to his father on the River Iris, in Pontus, where they lived a communal life and were joined by other women. When her mother died, about the year 373, Macrina gave away all her possessions and lived on what she could earn by her own labours; when she died in 379 she was so poor that nothing could be found to cover her body but a coarse veil. She was buried in the church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

At some stage she had become superior of a double monastery at Annesi, on the other side of the river from Basil and his community. This account of Macrina is based on the Life written by her brother Gregory in the form of a letter to a solitary named Olympius. He also wrote a treatise, De tlnima et resurrectione ("On the soul and resurrection"), in the form of a dialogue between himself and Macrina as she lay dying.

In the Life he describes a miracle that she worked to heal the diseased eye of a young girl, and he comments on other reported miracles: "Though they seem incredible, they are all believed to be true by those who have carefully investigated them. But they are judged by the carnally-minded to be outside the possible," and so he would not list them, "lest the unbeliever should suffer hurt by being led to disbelieve the gifts of God."

Partially from Butler's