This commemorationis a 2018 addition to A Great Cloud of Witnesses.
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Last updated: 30 March 2019
BASIL THE ELDER AND EMILIA OF CAPPADOCIA
PARENTS OF MACRINA, BASIL THE GREAT ANS GREWGORY OF NYSSA, c. 375
Basil the Elder was raised in Neocaesarea in Pontus. The son of Macrina the Elder, Basil is said to have moved with his family to the shores of the Black Sea during the persecution of Christians under Galerius. He is said to have been a well known lawyer and rhetorician, noted for his virtue. He married into the wealthy family of his wife Emmelia, and settled in Caesarea. There, he and his wife, with the help of his mother, raised a family that would greatly influence Christian history. Of their nine children (other sources claim ten children), five of them are remembered by name and are considered to be saints: Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, Naucratius, and Saint Macrina the Younger. After his death, his family property was converted into a monastic community for female virgins.
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Emmelia of Caesarea was born in Cappadocia, a province of the Roman Empire (nowadays Central Anatolia, Turkey). She died May 30th, 375 AD. She was born in the late third to early fourth century, a period in time when Christianity was becoming more widespread, posing a challenge to the Roman government and its pagan rule. She was the wife of Basil the Elder and bore nine or ten children, including Basil the Great (born circa 330), Macrina the Younger, Peter of Sebaste, Gregory of Nyssa, and Naucratius.
Emmelia—also known as Emilia or Emily—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 whom 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.
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