Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Macrina the Elder


Our knowledge of the life of the elder Macrina is derived mainly from the testimony of the great Cappadocian Fathers of the Church, her grandchildren: Basil (Ep. 204:7; 223:3), Gregory of Nyssa (“Vita Macrinae Junioris”), and the panegyric of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus on Saint Basil (Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 43).

She was the mother of the elder Basil, the father of Basil, Gregory, and other children whose names are known to us, including Macrina the Younger. Her home was at Neoc├Žsarea in Pontus. In her childhood she was acquainted with Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus, first bishop of her native town. As this venerable doctor, who had won Neoc├Žsarea almost completely for Christianity, died between 270 and 275, Saint Macrina must have been born before 270. During the Diocletian persecution she fled from her native town with her husband, of whose name we are ignorant, and had to endure many privations. She was thus a confessor of the Faith during the last violent storm that burst over the early Church. On the intellectual and religious training of Saint Basil and his elder brothers and sisters, she exercised a great influence, implanting in their minds those seeds of piety and that ardent desire for Christisn perfection which were later to attain so glorious a growth. As Saint Basil was probably born in 331, Saint Macrina must have died early in the fourth decade of the fourth century. Her feast is celebrated on 14 January.

MLA Citation

  • Johann Peter Kirsch. “Saint Macrina the Elder”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 November 2014. Web. 27 January 2022. <>