St. Macrina, the Sister of Ss. Basil the Great & Gregory of Nyssa


Commemorated on July 19

St. Macrina was the sister of the holy hierarchs Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, and was born in Cappadocia in the early fourth century. Her mother, Emilia, saw an angel in a dream and named her unborn child, Thekla, in honor of the holy Protomartyr Thekla. Another daughter was named Macrina, in honor of a grandmother, who suffered during the persecutions under Emperor Maximian Galerius.

Besides Macrina, there were nine other children. St. Emilia became responsible for the upbringing and education of her elder daughter. She taught her reading and writing from the Scriptural books and Psalms of David, selecting examples from the sacred books which spoke of a pious and God-pleasing life. St. Emilia taught her daughter to pray and to attend church services. Macrina was also taught how to run a household and learned various handicrafts. She was never left idle and did not participate in childish games or amusements.

When Macrina was a teenager, her parents betrothed her to a pious young man, but the bridegroom soon died. Many young men wished to marry her, but Macrina refused them all, having chosen the life of a virgin and not wanting to be unfaithful to the memory of her dead fiancée. Macrina continued to live in the home of her parents, assisting the servants with household tasks, as well as helping with the upbringing of her younger brothers and sisters. After the death of her father, she became the chief support for the family.

After her other siblings grew up and left home, Macrina convinced her mother to settle in a women's monastery. Several of the servants followed their example. Having taken monastic vows, they lived together as one family – they prayed together, worked together, and possessed everything in common.

After the death of her mother, St. Macrina guided the sisters of the monastery. She enjoyed the deep respect of all who knew her. Strictness towards herself and temperance in everything were characteristic of the saint all her life. She slept on boards and had no possessions.

She was also granted the gift of wonderworking. There was an instance (told by the sisters of the monastery to St. Gregory of Nyssa after the death of St. Macrina) when she healed a girl of an eye-affliction. Through her prayers, there was no shortage of wheat at her monastery in times of famine.

St. Macrina died in 380, after a final prayer of thanks to the Lord for having received His blessings over all the course of her life. She was buried in the same grave with her parents.

Troparion (Tone 8) –

The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Mother,
For you took up the Cross and followed Christ.
By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away,
But to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.
Therefore your spirit, O Holy Mother Macrina, rejoices with the Angels!

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)