Saint Macrina was the eldest daughter of Saints Basil and Emily, and the sister of Saints Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Peter of Sebaste. She was born at Caesarea in Cappodocia in 327.
Macrina was very carefully brought up by St Emily, and before she was twelve years old, she knew all the Psalms by heart, besides other portions of the Holy Scriptures. As she was rich and remarkably beautiful, many men were interested in her, and her father engaged her to a young man of distinction; but he died and she chose to remain single and lead a life of devotion with her mother, working with her hands that she might have the more to give to the poor.
When her father died, she took over the care of the family, managed the estate, and arranged suitable marriages for her four sisters. In 357, she comforted her mother after the death of her brother, Naucratius. She raised her brother, Peter, who was born after their father's death, teaching him only that which was good for his soul.
A few months after the death of her brother Basil she fell ill. St Gregory of Nyssa, who had been away for eight years, arrived to visit her, and found her in a raging fever, lying on two boards on the ground. Although she was at the point of death, they had a long conversation about their lately deceased brother Basil, the future life, and the resurrection. She thanked God for His many mercies to her, and that amid her greatest poverty she had never been compelled to refuse any one who begged of her, nor to beg of others for herself.
(Saint Gregory's description of his sister and his last conversation with her can be found on the audio files page.)
Saint Macrina died in peace in 379.
The ancient Greek name “Macrina” means “She who grows.”
We honor this Holy Virgin Saint on July 19.
Holy Virgin of the Lord, Saint Macrina, by your prayers may our lives influence our families to seek and serve the Lord with all their hearts. Amen.