Saint Marcella

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Saint Marcella
Roma (Q. Ostiense) - S. Marcella 08 Interno.JPG
Roma (Q. Ostiense) - S. Marcella 08 Interno
Ancient Rome
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Western Orthodox Church
FeastJanuary 31

Marcella (325–410) is a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. She was a Christian ascetic in the Byzantine Era. After her husband's early death, she decided to devote the rest of her life to charity, prayer, and mortification of the flesh.


She came from a noble family, and her Aventine Hill palace became a center of Christian activity. She was an associate of Saint Paula. Saint Jerome corresponded with her, and he called her "the glory of the ladies of Cadereyta." When the Goths invaded in 410, she was brutalized, and she died of her injuries. Her feast day in the west is January 31. Jerome's To Principia is a biography of her life.

Most of what we know about Marcella is from the letters of Saint Jerome, most famously his letter 127 to Principia.[1] It was written on the occasion of Marcella's death, paying tribute to her life and consoling her beloved student. In it, he says the following about his relationship with Marcella:

As in those days my name was held in some renown as that of a student of the Scriptures, she never came to see me without asking me some questions about them, nor would she rest content at once, but on the contrary would dispute them; this, however, was not for the sake of argument, but to learn by questioning the answers to such objections might, as she saw, be raised. How much virtue and intellect, how much holiness and purity I found in her I am afraid to say, both lest I may exceed the bounds of men's belief and lest I may increase your sorrow by reminding you of the blessings you have lost. This only will I say, that whatever I had gathered together by long study, and by constant meditation made part of my nature, she tasted, she learned and made her own.[2]

The artwork The Dinner Party features a place setting for Marcella.[3]


  1. ^ Butler, Alban. Butler’s Lives of the Saints. 12 vols. Ed. David Hugh Farmer and Paul Burns. New full ed., Tunbridge Wells, UK: Burns & Oates and Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1995–2000.
  2. ^ Rebenich, Stefan. Jerome. London: Routledge, 2002.
  3. ^ Place Settings. Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved on 2015-08-06.


Further reading[edit]

  • Kraemer, Ross S., ed. Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics: A Sourcebook on Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World. 1988; rev. ed., Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Wright, F. A., trans. Jerome: Select Letters. 1933; reprint ed., Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.