Humanities › History & Culture Macrina the Elder and Macrina the Younger Two Saints Share Flipboard Email Print St. Basil's Cathedral: grandson and brother of the Macrinas. Salvator Barki / Getty Images History & Culture Women's History Important Figures History Of Feminism Key Events Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Writer B.A., Mundelein College M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. our editorial process Jone Johnson Lewis Updated June 05, 2017 Macrina the Elder Facts Known for: teacher and grandmother of St. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Macrina the Younger and their siblings; also the mother of St. Basil the ElderDates: probably born before 270, died about 340Feast Day: January 14 Macrina the Elder Biography Macrina the Elder, a Byzantine Christian, lived in Neocaesaria. She was associated with Gregory Thaumaturgus, a follower of the church father Origen, who is credited with converting the city of Neocaesaria to Christianity. She fled with her husband (whose name is not known) and lived in the forest during the persecution of Christians by the emperors Galerius and Diocletian. After the persecution ended, having lost their property, the family settled in Pontus on the Black Sea. Her son was Saint Basil the Elder. She had a major role in the raising of her grandchildren, who included: Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Peter of Sebastea (Basil and Gregory are known as the Cappadocian Fathers), Naucratios, Saint Macrina the Younger, and, possibly, Dios of Antioch Saint Basil the Great credited her with having "formed and molded me" in doctrine, passing on to her grandchildren the teachings of Gregory Thaumaturgus. Because she lived much of her life as a widow, she is known as the patron saint of widows. We know of St. Macrina the Elder primarily through the writings of her two grandsons, Basil and Gregory, and also of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus. Macrina the Younger Facts Known for: Macrina the Younger is credited with influencing her brothers Peter and Basil to go into a religious vocationOccupation: ascetic, teacher, spiritual directorDates: about 327 or 330 to 379 or 380Also known as: Macrinia; she took Thecla as her baptismal nameFeast Day: July 19 Background, Family: Mother: Saint EmmeliaFather: Saint BasilGrandmother: Macrina the ElderNine or ten younger brothers include: Saint Basil the Great , Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Peter of Sebastea (Basil and Gregory are two of the church theological leaders known as the Cappadocian Fathers), Naucratios and, possibly, Dios of Antioch Macrina the Younger Biography: Macrina, the eldest of her siblings, was promised to be married by the time she was twelve, but the man died before the wedding, and Macrina chose a life of chastity and prayer, considering herself a widow and hoping for her eventual reunion in the afterlife with her fiance. Macrina was educated at home, and helped educate her younger brothers. After Macrina's father died in about 350, Macrina, with her mother and, later, her younger brother Peter, turned their home into a women's religious community. The women servants of the family became members of the community, and others soon were attracted to the house. Her brother Peter later founded a men's community connected with the women's community. Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Eustathius of Sebastea were also connected with the Christian community there. Macrina's mother Emmelia died in about 373 and Basil the Great in 379. Soon after, her brother Gregory visited her one last time, and she died shortly after. Another of her brothers, Basil the Great, is credited as a founder of monasticism in the East, and modeled his community of monks after the community founded by Macrina. Her brother, Gregory of Nyssa, wrote her biography (hagiography). He also wrote "On the Soul and Resurrection." The latter represents a dialogue between Gregory and Macrina as he made his last visit to her and she was dying. Macrina, in the dialogue, is represented as a teacher describing her views on heaven and salvation. Later Universalists pointed to this essay where she asserts that all will ultimately be saved ("universal restoration"). Later church scholars have sometimes rejected that the Teacher in Gregory's dialogue is Macrina, though Gregory clearly states that in the work. They claim that it must have been St. Basil instead, apparently on no other grounds than disbelief that it could have referred to a woman.