Saint Emilianos of Bulgaria
Saint Macrina the Younger
Celebrated on July 19th
Saint Macrina the Younger was the granddaughter of Saint Macrina the Elder, and sister of St Basil the Great.
Born in 327, she was the eldest of ten children. Macrina grew into a very beautiful woman, with many men asking for her hand in marriage. When she came of age, she was betrothed to a good man. However God took him before they were married, and Macrina then dedicated the rest of her life to Christ as a virgin.
Macrina showed her love for Christ firstly through her unyielding service to her family, assisting with the education of her siblings, and managing the family’s vast estate once her father had died. She became the family’s material and spiritual protectress. She kept her brothers on the difficult path to Sainthood, urging them to distance themselves from secular indulgences, and complementing her advice with unceasing prayer and perfect faith. Through all the hardships the family experienced, Macrina remained steadily focused on eternal life.
Macrina’s virtue and example convinced her mother Emmelia to join her in leading an ascetic life, and together they turned the family home into a monastery. Christ allowed Macrina to perform many miracles, such as when she developed a tumour on her breast. After spending the night in prayer, she took mud from the ground that her tears had made, spreading it over the lump. She then approached her mother to make the sign of the cross over her, after which the tumour miraculously disappeared, leaving only a scar. Another example was during a famine in Cappadocia in 368, when her prayers miraculously replenished the community’s grain stock, which had all but depleted.
At the end of her earthly life, Macrina grew steadily ill, but again she used this as an opportunity to contemplate God’s works and mysteries. Her brother, Gregory of Nyssa, was at her side in her last days, and they spoke together of their brother Basil. Instead of grieving, they discussed the resurrection of the body and the meaning of creation. As Macrina felt her end approaching, she murmured this prayer: “It is You, Lord, who has banished for us the fear of death… remit my sins so that once separated from this body, I may appear before You, with an irreproachable and immaculate soul”.