St. Macrina the Younger

The saint I chose today was an interesting one, from my point of view: St. Macrina the Younger (330-379), who lived in what is now Turkey. She was a contemplative saint, a virgin, and a member of a very saintly family. Her grandmother (also called Macrina) was a saint, as were her brothers, St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa. (St. Gregory of Nyssa is responsible for one of my favourite Christian quotations: "Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands.")

What did I know about this saint before today?

Nothing. I'd never even heard of her.

Why did I choose this saint?

Although I generally avoid ancient saints, I chose Macrina because she is a contemplative, and I'm much more interested in contemplative saints than in active saints. I also think the world needs them more now.

What did I learn about this saint?

She was engaged to be married in youth, but when her fiancé died, she settled on a life of virginity. She eventually established a religious community with her mother and other companions. Her brother St. Gregory wrote her biography, holding her up as a model of Christian virginity.

She left writings which have been used by universalists (i.e., those who believe everybody will be saved) to support their position. I'm sure they must be wrong. I hope everybody will be saved, but it's heresy to assume this.

She asked to be laid on the ground rather than on a bed at her death, in this anticipating St. Francis of Assisi and many others. The eagerness of the saints to embrace discomfort even in their last moments is quite intimidating.

She also knew the Psalms by heart. I find that quite inspiring. It's as though the Word of God has become a very part of the person themselves, when I hear such a thing.

Concluding thoughts

These are the kind of discoveries that I was hoping for on this blog. 


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