OF COURSE we finish up a full week of saintly action by ignoring the cultural phenomenon of St. Patrick's Day. No green beer for us -- we're all purple all the time anyway. No, today in Lent Madness it's Scholastica vs. Macrina the Younger with nary a shamrock in sight! This contest is chock-full of sibling rivalry as Scholastica was St. Benedict of Nursia's twin sister while Macrina had a plethora of saintly siblings. Read on for details...
Yesterday Amelia Bloomer yanked down Phillipp Melanchthon by a wide margin of 74% to 26% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen.
As you prepare for a full 48 hours of saintly voting deprivation, we wanted to point out that you don't have to wait until Monday morning to discover the results of this matchup. After the polls close in 24 hours, simply click on this post and scroll down to see the results. You can also click on the Bracket tab for all the current results.
We'll see you bright and early on Monday for the Battle of the Consonants aka Name-a-Geddon as Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky faces Nikolaus von Zinzendorf. Now go vote!
Double the pleasure; double the fun! Born in fifth-century Italy, Scholastica was the twin sister of Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Benedictine monasticism. Stories report that from an early age, Scholastica was dedicated to God. As a daughter from a wealthy family, she received an excellent education.
Learned, devout, and authoritative, Scholastica is considered the founder of the female branch of Benedictine monasticism. The historical record is not entirely clear about whether she began a convent or merely lived in a hermitage with other female monastics at the base of Mount Cassino, where there is an ancient church named after her.
Pope Gregory records the most well-known story of Scholastica, showing her to be a twin to her visionary brother in every way. She was believed to visit Benedict annually, and they would spend the day in prayer and discussion. When the evening drew near on one such visit, Benedict announced he needed to return to his cell. Scholastica asked him to stay so they could continue talking. Not wishing to break his own rule, Benedict insisted upon returning to his cell. In response, Scholastica brought her hands together in an attitude of prayer. Almost instantly a fierce storm rose up outside. Benedict asked, “What have you done?” She replied, “I asked you, and you would not listen; so I asked my God, and he did listen.” Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and the twins spent the night in discussion, as Scholastica requested.
Three days later, while looking out the window of his cell, Benedict saw his sister’s soul ascending to heaven. He sent for her body and laid it in a tomb that he he had prepared for himself. Scholastica’s death from natural causes was recorded in 543. Scholastica is petitioned during storms and is also the patron saint of female monastics and epileptic children. Her feast day is February 10.
Collect for Scholastica
God, giver of wisdom and ruler of will, we thank you for the gift of our sister Scholastica, who spent a life devoted to family, prayer, and spiritual discipline. Grant us a portion of that same spirit of conviction and tenacity, so that when faced with difficult conversations or partings, we might also remember the true joy and peace that is found in serving you, through Jesus Christ our Lord who, with you and the Holy Spirit, reigns now and for ever. Amen.
Macrina the Younger
Born around 327, Macrina was the eldest of nine (or ten) children and was named after her grandmother (Macrina the Elder) who endured persecution under the Romans. Her parents Basil the Elder and Emmelia of Caesarea must have known something about raising children—half of their offspring are remembered as saints—Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa (two of the three Cappadocian Fathers), Peter of Sebaste, Naucratius, and Macrina.
Macrina was betrothed to a young man who died shortly before their marriage. Upon his death, Macrina took a vow of chastity, considering herself already married to the young man and expecting to be reunited at the resurrection. After the death of her father, Macrina convinced her mother to take vows, and they both became nuns. Some time later, a tumor began to grow on Macrina’s breast. Her mother begged her to see a doctor to have the tumor removed. Macrina refused, asking her mother to make the sign of the cross on her chest. Her mother did this, and the tumor miraculously disappeared with a faint, cross-shaped scar taking its place.
Upon her mother’s death, with the help of her brother Peter, Macrina turned the family home into a monastery and convent. Living an ascetic life, she worked with her hands and lived simply with the other monastics. She gave herself to the study of scriptures and continued to offer counsel and inspiration to her better-known, younger brothers.
In 379, shortly after Basil died, a still-mourning Gregory came to visit Macrina and found her on her deathbed—a rough plank of wood with a smaller piece of wood for a pillow. So extreme was her poverty and asceticism that they could not find even a cloth to cover her. Although she neared death, she offered words of comfort to her brother and encouraged him to remember the promise of the resurrection. Their conversation inspired Gregory’s treatise, On the Soul and the Resurrection. Gregory also wrote a biography of his sister, The Life of Macrina.
Collect for Macrina the Younger
Merciful God, you called your servant Macrina to reveal in her life and her teaching the riches of your grace and truth: May we, following her example, seek after your wisdom and live according to her way; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.