Saint Macrina was the sister of the holy hierarchs Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, and was born in Cappadocia at the beginning of the fourth century. Her mother, Emilia, saw an angel in a dream, naming her unborn child Thekla, in honor of the holy Protomartyr Thekla. Saint Emilia (January 1) fulfilled the will of God and named her daughter Thekla. Another daughter was named Macrina, in honor of a grandmother, who suffered during the time of persecution under the emperor Maximian Galerius.
Besides Macrina, there were nine other children. Saint Emila herself guided the upbringing and education of her daughter Macrina. She taught her reading and writing in the Scriptural books and Psalms of David, selecting examples from the sacred books which spoke of a pious and God-pleasing life. Saint Emilia taught her daughter to pray and to attend church services. Macrina was also taught the proper knowledge of domestic governance and various handicrafts. She was never left idle and did not participate in childish games or amusements.
When Macrina grew up, her parents betrothed her to a certain pious youth, but the bridegroom soon died. Many young men sought marriage with 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 fiancé. Saint Macrina lived in the home of her parents, helping them fulfill the household tasks as an overseer together with the servants, and she helped with the upbringing of her younger brothers and sisters. After the death of her father she became the chief support for the family.
When all the children grew up and left the parental home, Saint Macrina convinced her mother, Saint Emilia, to leave the world, to set their slaves free, and to settle in a women’s monastery. Several of their servants followed their example. Having taken monastic vows, they lived together as one family, they prayed together, they worked together, they possessed everything in common, and in this manner of life nothing distinguished one from another.
After the death of her mother, Saint 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. Saint Macrina was granted the gift of wonderworking. There was an instance (told by the sisters of the monastery to Saint Gregory of Nyssa after the death of Saint Macrina), when she healed a girl of an eye-affliction. Through the prayers of the saint, there was no shortage of wheat at her monastery in times of famine.
Saint Macrina died in the year 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.
Saint Macrina, the elder sister of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, was sought after by many as a bride because of her beauty, wisdom, and illustrious birth, and in tender youth was espoused by her parents to a bridegroom of fitting nobility. When her betrothed died, Macrina refused any other suitors, and devoted herself to a life of virginity, asceticism, and prayer. When her brother Basil returned from a brilliant career in the best schools of Constantinople and Athens, puffed up with not a little youthful pride-for knowledge puffeth up-it was the ardent admonitions and holy example of his blessed sister that persuaded him to turn from seeking worldly glory to the service of God. Saint Macrina founded a convent, where she ended her earthly life in the year 379, and was buried by her brother Gregory, who wrote a moving account of her last days and his grief at seeing such a light pass out of the world.
Macrina was the eldest sister of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa. As a young virgin, Macrina was betrothed to a young nobleman. When her betrothed died, Macrina vowed never to enter into marriage, saying: “It is not right for a maiden once betrothed to a young man to seek another; according to the law of nature there must be only one marriage, as there is but one birth and one death.” She further justified this by her faith in the Resurrection, considering her betrothed not as one dead but as one alive in God. “It is a sin and a shame,” said Macrina, “for a wife not to preserve her faithfulness when her husband travels to a distant land.” After this, she and her mother Emilia received the monastic tonsure in a convent, where they lived a life of asceticism with other nuns. They lived by the work of their hands, yet devoted a greater part of their time to divine contemplation, prayer and the constant raising of their minds to God.
In time, Macrina’s mother died, and afterward her brother Basil also went to rest. Nine months after the death of St. Basil, St. Gregory came to visit his sister, and found her on her deathbed. Before her death Macrina raised a prayer to the Lord: “You, O Lord, Who give rest to our bodies in the sleep of death for a time, will again awaken them at the last trumpet. Forgive me, and grant that when my soul divests itself of its bodily attire it will present itself before You pure and without sin, and that it may be as incense before You.” She then made the sign of the Cross on her forehead, eyes, face and heart, and gave up her soul. She found rest in the Lord in the year 379 A.D.
Apolytikion of Righteous Macrina
Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Mother. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Macrina, your soul rejoices with the angels.
Kontakion of Righteous Macrina
Since the light of righteousness shone brightly in thee, thou wast an example of the life of piety for all, teaching the virtues to them that cry: Rejoice, Macrina, thou boast of virginity.
Source: oca.org / goarch.org / westserbdio.org