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Marcella, St.

MARCELLA, ST.

Widow, ascetic; b. c. 325335 of the noble Roman family of the Marcelli; d. late 410 or early 411. Her father died while she was young, and although she was left a childless widow after a marriage of only seven months, she declined an opportunity to remarry and instead consecrated herself to God. In her home on the Aventine, where she lived with her mother, Albina, she gathered together a number of noble Roman widows and virgins interested in pursuing the religious life. This group was given instruction by St. jerome during his stay in Rome (382385). A zealous student of scripture, Marcella directed a flow of philological and exegetical questions to Jerome, and his extant correspondence includes a number of letters addressed to her. Marcella took a vigorous interest in the dispute over origenism. During the plunder of Rome (410), she was beaten by soldiers of Alaric and died not long thereafter. Jerome left (Ep. 127) a touching account of her life.

Feast: Jan. 31.

Bibliography: i. hilberg, Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi epistulae (Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 5456; 191018), esp. nos. 2329, 32, 34, 37, 38, 4044, 46, 59, 127. f. cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 2 v. (Spicilegium sacrum Lovaniense 1, 2; 1922), passim. s. letsch-brunner, Marcella: discipula et magistra (Berlin 1998).

[t. c. lawler]

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