Emmelia of Caesarea

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Emmelia of Caesarea (Cappadocia, Central Anatolia, Turkey) was born in the fourth century, a period in time when Christianity was becoming more widespread, posing a challenge to the Roman government and its Pagan rule.[1] She was the wife of Basil the Elder and bore nine or ten children,[2] including Basil of Caesarea (born circa 330[3]), Macrina the Younger, Peter of Sebaste, Gregory of Nyssa, and Naucratius.

Emmelia—also known as Emilia or Emily—is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church and is said to have died in 375.[2] However, she is not the only woman in her family to be venerated as a saint. Both her mother-in-law, Macrina the Elder, as well as her daughters, Macrina the Younger and Theosebia are recognized as saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Emmelia spent much of her later years living with her eldest daughter, Macrina the Younger. Macrina the Younger had a profound impact on her mother. With her husband no longer around, Emmelia and her daughter lived a life dedicated to Christianity, surrounded by servants that they treated as equals, at Macrina the Younger's insistence. Their ascetic way of life attracted a following of women which created a convent like atmosphere, where one was considered rich if she lived a pure and devout Christian life and disregarded the materialistic lure of earthly pleasures and possessions.[4]


  1. ^ Brown, Peter. The body and society : men, women, and sexual renunciation in early Christianity. Twentieth anniversary ed. ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Print.
  2. ^ a b "St Emilia (May 8)". serbianorthodoxchurch.net. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  3. ^ Bowersock, Glen Warren, Brown, Peter & Grabar, Oleg, ed. (1999). Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World. Harvard University Press. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-67451-173-6. 
  4. ^ Gregory of Nyssa: The Life of Macrina, trans. by W.K. Lowther Clarke, (London: SPCK, 1916)