On this day: St. Macrina the Younger

On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Macrina the Younger. She was born in 330 at Caesarea, Cappadocia, today's Kayseri, Turkey.

Macrina is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion. Among the many saints in her family are her grandmother, Macrina the Elder, her parents, Basil and Emmelia, her brothers Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Naucratius, and Peter of Sebaste, and a sister (or sister-in-law), Blessed Theosebia the Deaconess.

"Basil the Great is remembered as the founder of Eastern monasticism. All Eastern Orthodox monks are Basilian monks and follow a variation of the monastic rule that he outlined. However, it is often overlooked that the community of monks organized by Basil was preceded and inspired by a community of nuns organized by his sister, Macrina."

--from "Macrina the Younger", by James Kiefer.


"The family of Macrina the Elder is . . . unique in Christian history for its renowned holiness. . . . What is pertinent to us here is the fact that the family recognized the women to be the guides directing them all to their spiritual ends."

". . . Macrina the Younger . . . became the spiritual guide for the family. After Basil 'returned after his long period of education, already a practised rhetorician,' Gregory wrote, 'he was puffed up beyond measure with the pride of oratory . . Nevertheless Macrina took him in hand, and with such speed did she draw him toward the mark of philosophy that he forsook the glories of this world.'"

--from A Woman's Way: The Forgotten History of Women Spiritual Directors, by Patricia Ranft, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. Ranft provides many details of the spiritual guidance given by Macrina the Younger to her mother, her siblings, her servants, and the members of the monastic community which she directed. Pages 26 - 34.

The most beautiful account of Macrina's life and holy death was written by her brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa.

St. Macrina died in 379. Click here for images.

Merciful God, who called your servant Macrina to reveal in her life and her teaching the riches of your grace and truth: Mercifully grant that we, following her example, may seek after your wisdom and live according to her way; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


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