Saint Marcella, 325-410
Marcella was a wealthy Roman from a noble family. She married young, but she was widowed within her first year of marriage. The consul Cerealis, a leader in Rome, asked her to marry him. Marcella refused, choosing instead to live life humbly, with few material comforts.
She invited a group of noble ladies to meet at her Aventine Hill mansion. Together they lived a life of self-discipline and self-denial. Through this sacrifice they hoped to grow more deeply in their relationship with God through Christ.
Marcella wrote letters to Saint Jerome. He gave her and the women who met at her mansion guidance about spiritual matters. Marcella learned from Saint Jerome but was never afraid to stand up to him in arguments. She spent most of her time reading, praying, and visiting the shrines of martyrs. She gave up many of the comforts of life to give herself to God and his work. Because of the way she lived in faith and sacrifice, Saint Jerome called her “the glory of the ladies of Rome.”
When the Goths looted Rome in 410, they tortured Marcella. They wanted her treasure. But they let her go when they learned that she had given all her money to the poor. Marcella died shortly after from her injuries. She left no earthly wealth. But Marcella’s relationship with God pointed her toward another treasure—a life rich in the Spirit of God.
Discuss: Saint Jerome gave spiritual guidance to Saint Marcella. Who in your life gives you spiritual guidance?
Care for the Poor
Saint Marcella gave all she had to the poor. Invite the young people to share all the ways they give to the poor. If time permits, organize a collection of food, clothing, warm coats, baby items, or toiletries to donate to the poor.