Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Macrina, the Elder

Macrina (1), the Elder, the paternal grandmother of Basil and Gregory Nyssen, resident at and probably a native of Neocaesarea in Pontus. Both Macrina and her husband, of whose name we are ignorant, were deeply pious Christians. Macrina had been trained on the precepts of the celebrated bp. of Neocaesarea, Gregory Thaumaturgus, by some of his hearers. In the persecution of Galerius and Maximin, Macrina and her husband, to save their lives, left home with a slender equipment and escaped to a hill forest of Pontus, where they are said to have lived in safe retirement for seven years. On the cessation of the persecution, a.d. 311, they returned to Neocaesarea. On the renewal of the persecution they appear to have again suffered. Their goods were confiscated and Macrina and her husband obtained the right to be reckoned among confessors of the faith (Greg. Nys. de Vit. S. Macr. t. ii. pp. 178, 191). In due time their son Basil married Emmelia, and became the father of ten children, the eldest bearing her grandmother's name Macrina, and the second that of his father Basil. This boy, afterwards the celebrated bp. of Caesarea Basil the Great, was brought up from infancy by his grandmother Macrina, at her country house at Annesi, to which she seems to have retired after her husband's death (Basil. Ep. 204 [75], § 6; 223 [79], § 3). Her death cannot be placed before 340.