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Melania the Younger, St.


Granddaughter of melania the elder, heiress and ascetic; b. Rome, 383; d. Jerusalem, Dec. 31, 439. The daughter of Valerius Publicola and Albina Ceionia, and heiress to great wealth, Melania at 14 was forced to marry her cousin Valerius Pinian. After the early death of their two infants, she persuaded St. Pinian to live in married continence and to dispose of their wealth in favor of the poor. After the death of her father (c. 405) and despite the opposition of the Senate, fiscal agents, and her relatives, she converted her house on the Via Appia into a hostel for pilgrims and began the sale of her vast properties with the consent of the Emperor honorius. With Pinian she visited paulinus of nola (406) and, fleeing before the Gothic invasion from the north, settled in Sicily in the company of rufinus of aquileia. When he died (410), she and Pinian visited North Africa for seven years, met augustine and alipius in Hippo, and encouraged the spread of ascetical movements. They settled in Jerusalem (417), made a pilgrimage among the Egyptian monks, and met cyril of alexandria. After returning to Jerusalem, Melania founded a convent for nuns on the Mt. of Olives (432) and a monastery nearby (436). Upon the death of Pinian (431), she increased her penitential activities, visited Constantinople (436) to convert her uncle Volusianus, and met the Empress Eudoxia Athenais, whom she later befriended in Jerusalem. Her life was written by the monk Gerontius.

Feast: Dec. 31.

Bibliography: gerontius, The Life of Melania, the Younger, tr. e. a. clark (New York 1984). f. x. murphy, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 7:249250; Traditio, 5 (1947) 5977. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 11.1:209230. d. gorce, ed. and tr., Vie de Sainte Mélanie (Sources Chrétiennes 90; 1962). t. spidlÍk, Melania la Giovane: la Benefattrice (Milan 1996).

[f. x. murphy]

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