19 July – Macrina the Younger (327 – 379)

On 19 July the Anglican Church celebrates the life of Macrina the younger and her brother, Gregory Bishop of Nyssa. Macrina the younger is named after her grandmother and was also named Thecla by her mother Emmelia. From a young age she took a lead in establishing a monastic settlement on the family estate in Cappadocia. She is one of the well known Cappadocian Women – from the same family as two of the Cappadocian Fathers! Gregory (of Nazianzus) is the third Cappadocian Father from another Cappadocian family of remarkable women. 

Macrina was the eldest child, her brothers, Gregory of Nyssa and Basil the Great are two of the Cappadocian Fathers. She was a great influence on them.  Persuading Basil to be a priest rather than become a rhetorician.

Macrina was probably born in 327AD into a long-established and wealthy Cappadocian family whose faith in Christ had been tried and tested during Diocletian’s persecutions in 303-4. Her father died when she was about 12 years old.

According to her brother Gregory‘s ‘Life of Macrina’, she seems to have taken responsibility for running the family estate and eventually set up a monastic settlement for women.  Gregory’s ‘Life of Macrina’ was written by Gregory as a eulogy to his sister, in the text Gregory records his visit to her as she was dying.

Macrina was noted for taking on menial, ordinary jobs such as preparing bread for the household.  At a young age she committed to remaining a virgin and remaining unmarried. Her mother also gave her the name Thekla, after a Christian woman from Iconium (modern day Konya) who was converted through listening to the Apostle Paul’s preaching. Thekla was a martyr who braved much in her commitment to Christ.

Anglican Collect for today:
Lord of eternity, creator of all things, in your Son Jesus Christ you open for us the way to resurrection that we may enjoy your bountiful goodness: may we who celebrate your servants Gregory and Macrina press onwards in faith to your boundless love and ever wonder at the miracle of your presence among us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen