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Saints and Feasts of December 5

Friday, January 31, 2020

Saint Marcella of Rome (+ 410)


Saint Marcella was born in 325 to a noble family of Rome. As a young girl, she heard Saint Athanasius speak. Having lost her husband in the seventh month of her marriage, she rejected the proposal of Cerealis the consul, uncle of Gallus Caesar, and resolved to imitate the lives of the ascetics of the East. She abstained from wine and meat, employed all her time in pious reading, prayer, and visiting the churches of the apostles and martyrs, and never spoke with any man alone. Her example was followed by many virgins of the first quality, who put themselves under her direction, and Rome was in a short time filled with monasteries. Her palace on the Aventine Hill was made into a monastery, where she lived with the virgins and widows of Rome.

The Goths under Alaric plundered Rome in 410. Saint Marcella, who retired to one of her country estates to live in solitude, was captured and scourged by them for the treasures which she had long before distributed among the poor. All that time she trembled only for her dear spiritual pupil, Principia, (not her daughter, as some have mistaken) and falling at the feet of the cruel soldiers, she begged, with many tears, that they would offer her no insult. God moved them to compassion. They conducted them both to the Church of Saint Paul, to which Alaric had granted the right of sanctuary with that of Saint Peter. Saint Marcella, who survived this but a short time, reposed in the arms of Saint Principia, about the end of August, in 410.


Saint Jerome visited her in Rome and corresponded with her, and he called her "the glory of the ladies of Rome." We have nineteen letters of Saint Jerome to her, linked below. Jerome's Letter 127 to Principia, dated to 412, is a biography of her life.

LETTER 23 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 24 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 25 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 26 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 27 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 28 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 29 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 32 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 34 -- TO MARCELLA (384)
LETTER 37 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 384)
LETTER 38 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 385)
LETTER 40 -- TO MARCELLA (385)
LETTER 41 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 385)
LETTER 42 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 385)
LETTER 43 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 385)
LETTER 44 -- TO MARCELLA (ROME, 385)
LETTER 46 -- PAULA AND EUSTOCHIUM TO MARCELLA (BETHLEHEM, 386)
LETTER 59 -- TO MARCELLA
LETTER 97 -- TO PAMMACHIUS AND MARCELLA



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