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ST. MACRINA, VIRGIN

SHE was the eldest of all the ten children of St. Basil the elder, and St. Emmelia; and being trained up in excellent sentiments of piety, after the death of her father, consecrated her virginity by vow to God, and was a great assistant to her mother in educating her younger brothers and sisters. St. Basil the Great, St. Peter of Sebaste, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and the rest, learned from her their early contempt of the world, dread of its dangers, and application to prayer and the word of God. When they were sent abroad for their improvement, Macrina induced her mother to concur with her in founding two monasteries, one for men, the other for women, at a little distance from each other, on their own estate, near Ibora in Pontus. That of men was first governed by St. Basil, afterward by St. Peter. Macrina drew up the rules for the nunnery with admirable prudence and piety, and established in it the love and spirit of the most universal poverty, and disengagement from the world, mortification, humility, assiduous prayer, and singing of psalms. God was pleased to afflict her with a most painful cancer: which at length her mother cured by making, at her request, the sign of the cress upon the sore; only a black spot remained ever after upon the part that had been affected.

After the death of St. Emmelia, Macrina disposed of all that was left of their estate in favor of the poor, and lived herself, like the rest of the nuns, on what she earned by the labor of her hands. Her brother Basil died in the beginning of the year 379, and she herself fell ill eleven months after. St. Gregory of Nyssa, making her a visit, after eight years’ absence, found her sick of a raging fever, lying on two boards, one of which served for her bed, and the other for her pillow. He was exceedingly comforted by her pious discourses, and animated by the fervor and ardent sighs of divine love and penance, by which she prepared herself for her last hour. She calmly expired, after having armed herself with the sign of the cross. Such was the poverty of the house that nothing was found to cover her corpse when it was carried to the grave, but her old hood and coarse veil; but St. Gregory threw over it his episcopal cloak. She had worn about her neck a fillet, on which hung an iron cross and a ring. St. Gregory gave the cross to a nun named Vestiana, but kept himself the ring, in which the metal was hollow, and contained in it a particle of the true cross. Araxus, bishop of the place, and St. Gregory led up the funeral procession, which consisted of the clergy, the monks, and nuns, in two separate choirs. The whole company walked singing psalms, with torches in their hands. The holy remains were conveyed to the church of the Forty Martyrs, a mile distant from the monastery, and were deposited in the same vault with the saint’s mother. Prayers were offered up for them both. St. Macrina died in December, 379; but is commemorated both by the Latins and Greeks on the 19th of July. This account is given us by St. Gregory of Nyssa, in the funeral discourse he made upon her, t. 2, p. 149. Add the remarks of F. Bosch, the Bollandist, t. 4, Julij, p. 589.










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