Saints of the Day – Marcian of Chalcis, Hermit


Born in Cyrrhus, Syria; died 387. Marcian was a patrician who left the emperor’s court and gave up a brilliant military career in order to lead the solitary life in the desert of Chalcis, which lies between Antioch and the Euphrates. He chose the most remote regions of the desert in order to hide himself away in a cell so narrow and low that he could neither stand nor lie in it without doubling over. As hard as he tried to hide his singular struggle for holiness, his reputation grew. First he attracted two illustrious disciples, Eusebius and Agapitus, but more and more followed. Marcian thereupon appointed Eusebius as abbot over the desert monks who came seeking Marcian.

Marcian was a wonder-worker, though he again tried to hide it. He would not listen to requests for miraculous intercession. When a hermit came to him on behalf of a Beroean to get some oil blessed for the man’s sick daughter, Marcian refused peremptorily. At that same hour, however, the girl recovered.

One other item of note. As Marcian grew older, he felt that the vultures were indecently awaiting his death in hope of claiming his relics. Some, including his nephew Alipius, actually built chapels in which to house his future remains. Marcian coerced Eusebius to pledge to bury him secretly. Eusebius kept his promise. Marcian’s relics were not discovered until fifty years after his death. At that time they were solemnly translated and became an object of pilgrimage (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Walsh).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 August 2020. Web. 25 November 2020. <>