Marcella of Rome, 325 to 410 A.D.


“By heaven’s grace, captivity has found me a poor woman, not made me one. Now I shall go in want of daily bread, but I shall not feel hunger since I am full of Christ.”

These are the words of Marcella of Rome, who lived from 325 to 410 A.D. She lived an enviable life as the daughter of a prominent Roman family who married a wealthy man. But less than a year after her wedding, her husband died. She was given a chance to continue living in wealth when she was proposed to by the wealthy consul Cerealis. She chose instead to convert her mansion into one of the earliest communities of women, where she and other noblewoman used their riches to help the poor.

Marcella said she preferred to to “store her money in the stomachs of the needy than hide it in a purse”. In 410, when the Goths invaded Rome, they broke into Marcella’s home.

When they demanded money, she calmly responded that she had only the robe that she wore, because she had given her riches to the poor.

Though she was an elderly woman, they beat and tortured her mercilessly.

Her attackers were eventually shamed by her piety and she was released, but she died within a few months of this assault.

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Sources: Book of Common Prayer (Claiborne)

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