( skip to main content )

Saints

Commemorated on July 19th

Macrina the Righteous

Macrina the Righteous, sister of St. Basil 19th Jul

St Macrina (c.327-79 AD) was the oldest of ten children of St Basil the Elder and St Emmelia, and was born at Caesarea in Cappadocia. She was educated by her mother, who both taught her to read and exercised vigilance over how she used that accomplishment. At the age of twelve she was betrothed, but her fiancé died suddenly. After this, although very beautiful, she refused all other suitors and devoted herself to a Christian life.

Initially she educated her brothers and sisters. St Basil the Great, St Peter of Sebastea, St Gregory of Nyssa and the rest learned from her contempt of the world, dread of its dangers, and application to prayer and the word of God; St Gregory relates how St Basil returned from Athens University as a very conceited young man, and his sister taught him humility; while to St Peter, the youngest, she was 'father, teacher, guide, mother, giver of good advice', for their father died just as he was born. St Basil the Great then established his mother and St Macrina on an estate by the river Iris in Pontus, and there they were joined by other women in an ascetic communal life.

After the death of St Emmelia, St Macrina disposed of all her property in favour of the poor, and lived on what she earned by the labour of her hands. St Basil the Great died in the beginning of 379 AD, and she fell ill nine months later. St Gregory of Nyssa, making her a visit after eight years absence, found her sick, lying on two boards for her bed. Although she found it difficult to talk, her discussion of the future life was recorded by St Gregory in On the Soul and the Resurrection. Her poverty was absolute and her preparation was death was complete. She died at the time of Vespers after praying, 'You have made the end of this life the beginning of true life. One day you will take again what you have given, transfiguring with grace and immortality our mortal and unsightly remains. May my soul be received into your hands, spotless and undefiled, as an offering before you'. She was buried amid widespread lamentation.

Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

The image was preserved with exactness in you, O Mother; for taking up your cross, you followed Christ, and by your deeds you taught us to overlook the flesh, for it passes away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Therefore, O righteous Macrina, your spirit rejoices with the Angels.

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

Since the light of righteousness shone brightly in you, you are an example of the life of piety for all, teaching the virtues to them that cry: Rejoice, Macrina, the boast of virginity.