Saint Marcellina

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Saint Marcellina
9859 - Milano - Sant'Ambrogio - S. Ambrogio e S. Marcellina - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto 25-Apr-2007.jpg
Saint Marcelline with her brother Saint Ambrose
Born 327
Trier, Gaul
Died 398
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Church
Feast July 17

Saint Marcellina (c. 327 – 397) was born in Trier, Gaul the daughter of the Praetorian prefect of Gaul, and was the older sister of Saint Ambrose of Milan. She devoted her life to the practice of prayer and asceticism. Her feast day is July 17.


Marcellina was born in Trier, Gaul around the year 330 into a Roman Christian family. Her father served as Praetorian prefect of Gaul. The sister of Ambrose of Milan, she was older than her two brothers. It appears that after the death of their parents, she took responsibility for the upbringing of her younger brothers, Ambrose and Satyrus.[1] While still relatively young, she traveled to the family home in Rome, and devoted herself to the practice of piety and asceticism. On Christmas Day, probably in 353, she received the veil of consecrated virginity from Pope Liberius.[2]

As the eldest sister in her family, she made it a point to pass her younger brothers the "desire not to express their virtue, but to become truly virtuous." This life she led called for continual abstinence, dedication to prayer, strict fasting, etc.[3] The life chosen by Saint Marcellina was one of great sacrifice.

After Ambrose had become Bishop of Milan in 374, he summoned his sister, and found in her a zealous assistant in fostering and extending the ascetic life among the maidens of Milan. Marcellina survived her brother by a year, dying in 398. Honored as a saint, she was buried in the crypt under the altar of the Ambrosian Basilica in Milan.[4]


Ambrose dedicated his work on virginity, written in 377, Libri III de virginibus ad Marcellinam to her.[2]

The Institute St. Marcellina was established in 1955 in Hampstead, London in honor of Marcellina herself. The institute, run by the Sisters of St. Marcellina, is a residence for foreign students.[5]


  • PD-icon.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Saint Marcellina". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.