One of the first organizations to finalize plans for the icon they will sponsor, the Women of Saint Andrew, has chosen four saints to be depicted who exude what we all aspire to be. The four women chosen are Saints Perpetua, Felicitas, Nonna and Macrina the Younger. These women saints were wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, servants and leaders. They provide examples for the Women of Saint Andrew, and indeed everyone else, at every stage of life.
St. Macrina the Younger was the granddaughter of St. Macrina the Elder and the eldest daughter of pious parents Basil and Emilia. Of her nine siblings, two others are also saints: St. Basis the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa. We learn about St. Macrina from he brother, St. Gregory who referred to her as, “The Teacher” for the great influence she had on her entire family. As a youngster she was never idle and helped her mother with family chores. She grew to be meek, modest and hardworking. Her parents arranged her marriage to a nobleman at a young age, but he died before they were married. Macrina considered her engagement binding and never married. She remained devoted to her family until her brothers had left home and her sisters had married. Then she and her mother started on the monastic path. They withdrew to a secluded family property and founded a convent where they each later died. In her last days, her brother Gregory visited Macrina as she was weakened with fever. Gregory understood that she had a short time left on earth and seeing him sad, she consoled him. She had no fear of death and was in fact brimming with joy and love for God. She was buried in tattered clothes as she gave everything else away.
Saint Perpetua was a North African noble woman and Saint Felicitas was her servant. According to St. Perpetua’s own journal they were arrested along with three men for violating a prohibition against conversion to Christianity. Perpetua was the mother of an infant son who was still nursing. She writes of her suffering when they are separated. She also writes of her sadness when her own father tries to persuade her to deny her faith in order to spare her life. The one who supports her is her servant St. Felicitas who was soon due to give birth at the time of their arrest. She gave birth to a girl in prison. Both babies were entrusted to Christian friends as the two young mothers were sentenced to fight with beasts in the amphitheater. They survived being gored by a cow and were beheaded.
Have you ever heard the phase, “If mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Everyone knows the profound effect of a mother’s attitude and actions on the entire family, especially in the negative sense. Saint Nonna is an example of exactly the opposite. She had a most holy influence on her family and she, her husband, St. Gregory the Elder and their three children, St. Gregory the Theologian, Caesarius and Gorgonia were all sainted. It is one of her sons. St. Gregory the Theologian who writes of his mother. He discusses his parents as being “of one honor, of one mind, of one soul, yoked in the pursuit of virtue and of fellowship with God.” Now that is a marriage to strive for! St. Gregory also writes that, “She excelled in both the thrifty management of her household and in the pursuit of godliness.” “Some of her virtues she displayed early in life; others were acquired gradually throughout her life.” She was known to give generously to the poor, dedicating herself to prayer, fasting, almsgiving, chanting psalms and keeping vigils. She had a holy influence on her entire sainted family.
- Karen Mann, President and Representative to the Parish Council.
- Barbara Farha, Vice President
- Carolyn Lengal, Secretary / Treasurer
Ellsberg, Robert. All Saints Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time. The Crossroad Publishing Company. New York. 2000.
WOSA is a member chapter of Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America (AOCWNA), founded in 1973 through the vision of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba) as an organization of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.