« Mar Aba or Mar-Abas Marana and Cyra Marcella, friend of Jerome »

Marana and Cyra

Marana and Cyra, two ladies of birth and education of Beroea in Syria, who in their youth devoted themselves to a solitary life of the extremest austerity, which they had persevered in for 42 years when Theodoret wrote his Religiosa Historia. According to Theodoret they left home with some female servants whom they had inspired with the same ascetic fervour and built a small stone enclosure, 687open to the sky, the door of which they closed up with mud and stones, their only means of communication with the outer world being a small window through which they took in food. Only females were allowed to converse with Marana, and that only at Easter; Cyra no one had ever heard speak. For their maidens a small hovel was constructed within earshot, so that they could encourage them by their example and by their words to a life of prayer and holy love. Theodoret often visited these recluses and in honour of his priestly office they unwalled their door and admitted him into the enclosure, which he found devoid of any protection against the heat or cold, rain or snow. Their heads and the whole upper part of their bodies were enveloped in long hoods, entirely concealing their faces, breasts, and hands. They wore chains of iron round their necks, waists, and wrists, of such weight as to prevent Cyra, who was of weak frame, from raising herself upright. These they laid aside at Theodoret's request, but resumed after he left. Their fastings equalled in length those of Moses and David. Fired with a desire to visit holy sites, they made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, not eating once on the journey nor as they returned, and only breaking their fast at Jerusalem. They practised the same rigid abstinence on a second pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thecla at the Isaurian Seleucia. Theod. Hist. Relig. c. 29; Basil. Menol. Feb. 28; Tillem. ii. 64; Ceill. x. 63.

[E.V.]

« Mar Aba or Mar-Abas Marana and Cyra Marcella, friend of Jerome »





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