In the early Christian Church in Caesarea, Cappadocia around 327 AD Saint Macrina was born. She was a religious nun and is regarded a famous saint in not only Roman Catholic but also the Eastern Orthodox and The Eastern Catholic Church. Her grandmother is called St. Macrina, the elder who is a patron saint for grandparents and also poor and windows. Her grandmother was converted by St. Gregory Thaumaturgus which means the ‘wonder-worker’. He was a renowned preacher in the early 4th century.  St. Macrina, the younger belonged to a strong family with traditions and values to cherish. She was the eldest daughter of St. Basil and St. Emelia. She had nine siblings, two of her brothers, St. Basil The Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa are known as the ‘Cappadocian Fathers’ along with Peter of Sebaste and the famous Christian jurist Naucratius. St. Gregory of Nyssa in his book, ‘The Life of Macrina’ describes his eldest sister as “one who had raised herself by philosophy to the highest summit of human virtue.”  She was arranged to be married to a compatible suitor by her parents. She was engaged but before her marriage her fiancé passed away. She had many suitors because of her beauty and accomplishments. But after her fiancé’s death she was not willing to marry any other man and accepted Christ as her only bridegroom. She committed herself for the love of Christ and decided to become a nun. This way she devoted herself to her eternal faith. Saint Gregory of Nyssa was her younger brother who wrote about her and her life of asceticism. Being the eldest daughter she had the responsibility of being a role model for her siblings which brought force and intellectual ability to her character. She was brought up with care and religious integrity. Her baptismal name was ‘Thecla’ as her mother had a vision before her birth where she was carrying a child named ‘Thecla’, who is famous among virgins. This vision revealed how St. Macrina’s life will be devoted to Jesus Christ in the future. She was able to memorize Psalms and long passages from The Bible. Her earnest piety made her to live a life of passion and zeal for God’s love. In 349 AD, her father died, when she was thirty-two, she performed the duties of a dedicated daughter and a loving sister. She took care of her widowed mother with her nine siblings and also took care of the large property that belonged to her family. Her unique strong ability and personal care to her mother and brothers and sisters was unparalleled. She induced her mother to love and respect others irrespective of their status, color or creed. She drew up the rules of equality so their maids could share the same food they ate and could share the same necessities of life. She led her mother to live immaterial life with no pomp and show, rather a life of complete endurance and selflessness. St. Macrina also helped her brothers especially, St. Basil to bring him down from his pride to following the philosophy of being humble and down to earth. She drew him closer to the life of awakening and not looking down upon the local people. Her influence on his brother Naucratius , led him to be a phenomenal public speaker. St. Macrina never considered any task to be demeaning. She used to work alongside with her maidservants with no difference at all. When Naucratius suddenly died at the age of twenty seven, both mother and daughter consoled each other. Macrina believed that a true Christian does not mourn rather has hope for the eternal salvation. She had the desire to be fully committed to God. This desire led her to leave all worldly matters and she encouraged her mother to adopt a lifestyle that required simplicity, selflessness and living according to God’s will. Emelia divided her property among her children and along with Macrina founded a monastery for men and one for women in Pontus.  The monastery for men was administered by St. Basil and later was passed on to St. Peter. With the best of her abilities she set up a framework for the monastery of women and wrote out the rules for the nunnery with worthy discretion and holiness. The established aura of the monastery was that of humility, perseverance, prayer and constant singing of psalms. There were quite a number of female slaves who joined the monastery and later it became a convent. These set of women were living together, eating and praying together. Hence, serving the Lord altogether. There was no anger or pride or hatred. All lived a harmonious life only serving the Lord. Emelia, Macrina’s mother reached old age and Macrina, the oldest daughter and Peter, the youngest son were there to take care of her in her last days. Emelia was buried alongside with her husband and son Naucratius in the chapel of their estate in Annesi.  In 370, Basil became the Bishop of Caesarea, and also elevated his brother Peter, who possessed the same virtues and was made the Bishop of Sebaste. Gregory also abandoned the worldly pursuits, as told to him by his sister, Macrina and became the Bishop of Nyssa. Basil died before the age of fifty on the front lines of the battle against Arianism. But this time it was very hard for Macrina to hold her grief, as more than her own loss she was shattered because the Church lost a knowledgeable priest. After some time, Gregory came to visit Macrina in her convent, while returning from a council in Antioch. He was looking for consolation for his brother’s death. But when he reached there, he found his sister extremely weakened by fever that she could not even stand up. She had intense pain which showed that her health was deteriorating rapidly. She was still happy to see her brother. St. Gregory accounts the conversation with her explaining that irrespective of the fact that she was ill, she had a discourse regarding God’s providence, purposeful life that leads to eternal salvation and immortality of the soul. Gregory had to leave but he wished if he could have more conversation with his sister. The next morning, when he saw her, he knew he was seeing her for the last time. Macrina with clear conscience and mind was all ready to join his bridegroom in heaven. She began to pray out loud, “I thank Thee, O Lord, for from the end of our temporal life Thou hast fashioned the beginning of eternal life! And thereby Thou hast removed from us the fear of death. With the sleep of death, Thou givest rest for a time to our bodies, which Thou wilt rouse again with the last trumpet!…O eternal Lord God, to Whom I have attached myself since childhood, Whom I have come to love with all the powers of my soul, remember me in Thy kingdom, as Thou didst remember the wise thief who commended himself to Thy merciful kindness; and forgive me wherein I have sinned before Thee, whether by word, deed or thought.” These were her last words and she gave herself and her soul in God’s hand and peacefully died on July 19, 378, at the age of 51 years. St. Gregory inquired from one of the sisters in the convent if Macrina had left anything. To which she replied, “Nothing, she gave everything away, Here is her hairshirt, here is her patched cassock and her ragged mantia. She kept nothing else on earth; rather, she concentrated on storing treasures in heaven.” She was buried along with her parents in the nearby family chapel in Annesi. St. Gregory narrates Macrina’s life by explaining how she touched so many lives by performing many miracles while she was still alive. He explains her extraordinary power of prayer. She used to heal sick and exorcise demons. She also had the divine gift of foretelling future events. She was also blessed with the gift of wonderworking. One of the sisters of the monastery told St. Gregory of Nyssa that she healed a girl with an eye affliction. Also, at the time of famine, there was no shortage of food and wheat. This was all due to St. Macrina’s prayers. St. Macrina has been known as the Philosopher of God until now. St. Gregory of Nyssa, describes her as a  “father, teacher, guide, and mother.” St. Gregory explains about his sister, that she found a tumor on her left breast. Instead of going to a doctor or considering surgery which was somehow meant death at that time, she asked her mother to make a sign of cross. Her mother asked her to get any medical treatment but according to St. Gregory God cured her. There was only a small mark left which looked like a needle. Macrina’s mark on her left breast is a reminder of God’s help. Her cancer was cured without mutilation and even today doctors aim to do so in oncoplastic surgery. Martyrs and saints remind us of the undying love for Jesus Christ and serve as an inspiring examples of virtue and faith. They help suffering people to alleviate their spirits. This way Macrina can be regarded as the patron saint of modern oncoplastic surgery. In today’s world where breast cancer patients still have to go through mutilation without breast reconstruction, Macrina is a prevalent and an eternal hope to all those who go through suffering. St. Macrina’s example in the New Evangelization can be well explained by what St. Gregory of Nyssa exclaimed about her as being: ‘father, teacher, guide, and mother’. She took the role of a father, taught like a teacher, guided like a mentor and loved like a mother. This is a great Christian heritage of how a woman should perform her duties as a father, teacher, guide and mother to all the people around her. Her pure life of chastity, zeal and selflessness is a great example for all who long for eternal salvation. The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Mother, For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away, But to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal. Therefore your spirit, O Holy Mother Macrina, rejoices with the Angels!Troparian (Tone 8)

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