Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Macrina, Virgin

Today we commemorate Macrina. Macrina was the first of ten children born to St. Basil the elder, and St. Emmelia. After the death of her father, she vowed to remain a virgin and assisted her mother in the education of her brothers and sisters. St. Basil the Great, St. Peter of Sebaste, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and the rest, learned godliness and the Word of God from Macrina. She convinced her mother to find two monastaries and Macrina drew up the rules for one of them. Macrina developed a very painful form of cancer. According to tradition at Macrina's request her mother made the sign of the cross over Macrina's sore. She was healed and only a black spot remained where the sore had been. After the death of St. Emmelia, Macrina sold all that was left of their estate to support the poor, and lived herself, like the rest of the nuns, on what she earned by the labour 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 fervour 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.

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