Feast Day : July 19
Macrina the Younger was named after her grandmother. Her parents were Basil the Elder and Emmelia, both Christians. At birth she was given another, secret name because of a dream or vision experienced by her mother. According to an account by Gregory of Nyssa, Emmelia fell asleep during her labor and beheld a man “in form and raiment more splendid than a human being” who addressed the child she was carrying by the name of Thecla, the virgin martyr in the apocryphal work, Acts of Paul and Thecla. The apparent angel did this three times and then gave her easy delivery. When Emmelia awakened, she saw that she had given birth to a girl. The child was called Thecla in private and Macrina in public. Macrina received a strong religious upbringing and education from her Christian parents and her grandmother. She was engaged to be married at age 12, but her fiancé died, and she decided to pursue a religious life, and to never leave her mother. When Basil returned home from his studies in Athens, she influenced him toward the life of Christian perfection. After the death of her father, Macrina persuaded her mother to help her form a contemplative religious community on the family estate in Pontus on the River Iris. Within the community everyone was equal and shared equally in food and housing. They were assisted by Macrina’s brother, St. Peter of Sebaste, who presided over the men in the community. Basil established his own monastery across the river. Macrina and Emmelina remained in the monastery for the rest of their lives. Macrina became head of the community when her mother died. In 379, after the death of Basil, brother Gregory of Nyssa visited Macrina and found her seriously ill. They had a discourse about life after death and meeting in heaven, which inspired Gregory to write his Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection. Macrina died soon after their meeting.