Melania the Younger

Saint Melania the Younger
Miniature from the Menologion of Basil II
Born c. 383
Rome
Died (439-12-31)31 December 439
Jerusalem
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches
Feast December 31

Saint Melania the Younger (born in Rome c. 383, died in Jerusalem on December 31, 439) is a Christian saint and Desert Mother who lived during the reign of Emperor Honorius, son of Theodosius I. She is the paternal granddaughter of Melania the Elder.

The Feast of Melania the Younger is held on December 31 (the Julian calendar's December 31 falls on January 13 on the Gregorian calendar). In Ukraine, by Orthodox Christians, Malanka ("Melania's Day") is celebrated on January 13, and on December 31 by other Christians.

Life

Melania was born to Valerius Publicola - the son of Valerius Maximus Basilius and Melania the Elder) and his wife Albina.[1] She married her paternal cousin, Valerius Pinianus, at the age of fourteen. After the early deaths of two children, she and her husband embraced Christian asceticism and maintained a celibate life thereafter. Upon inheriting her parents' wealth, she donated it to ecclesiastical institutions and to the poor through anonymous intermediaries.[2] Melania and Pinianus left Rome in 408, living a monastic life near Messina (Sicily) for two years. In 410, they travelled to Africa, where they befriended Augustine of Hippo and devoted themselves to a life of piety and charitable works. Together they founded a convent of which Melania became Mother Superior, and cloister of which Pinianus took charge. In 417, they traveled to Palestine by way of Alexandria, living in a hermitage near the Mount of Olives, where Melania founded a second convent. After the death of Pinianus c. 420, Melania built a cloister for men, and a church, where she spent the remainder of her life.

Melania had "vast domains in Sicily" and also held land in Britain.[3][4] She also owned grand estates in Iberia, Africa, Numidia, Mauretania and Italy. Gerontius describes one of her estates as follows: "On one side lay the sea and on the other some woodland containing a variety of animals and game, so that when she was bathing in the pool she could see ships passing by and game animals in the woods... the property [also] included sixty large houses, each of them with four hundred agricultural slaves." [5] Thus, this one property contained 24,000 slaves.

Hagiography

An account of Melania's pursuit of the ascetic life survives in a hagiography or biography, written by Gerontius c. 452.[6]

Further, there is an account of her life by Palladius (d. A.D. 431) as well.[7]

Ancestry

  1. Valerius Maximus Basilius was a descendant of Octavia the Younger and C. Claudius Marcellus Minor, through their granddaughter Valeria Messala (daughter of Claudia Marcella Minor).
  2. Septimia was the great-granddaughter of Pomponius Bassus, the great-great-grandson of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, which made her the Emperor's descendant.

See also

References

  1. Schlitz, Carl. "St. Melania (the Younger)." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 15 Mar. 2013
  2. Butler's Lives of the Saints, Vol. IV, P.J. Kennedy Sons, NY, 1962, p. 647
  3. http://www.bahs.org.uk/AGHR/ARTICLES/06n2a1.pdf p.82., note 2
  4. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QQPdRzFDiy4C&pg=RA1-PA23&lpg=RA1-PA23&dq=civis+Dumnonia+Salona&source=bl&ots=vEma9ZYy6n&sig=B_0HyV3C5sZVxtCazQfOJzCrJaA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAGoVChMIiJrksqD2xgIVzLIUCh1o3AhA#v=onepage&q=civis%20Dumnonia%20Salona&f=false p.23., point 17
  5. Gerontius, "Life of Melania the Younger", in Lives of Roman Christian Woman (New York, 2010), pp.193-4.
  6. Gerontius. "Life of Melania the Younger", in Lives of Roman Christian Women, translated by Carolinne White (New York: Penguin, 2010).
  7. Palladius. "Life of Melania the Younger", in "Lives of Roman Christian Women" (New York, 2010).

Further reading

  • Elizabeth A. Clark, The Life of Melania the Younger. New York, 1984.
  • Rosemary Ruether, "Mothers of the Church: Ascetic Women in the Late Patristic Age," in Women of Spirit: Female Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions, Rosemary Ruether and Eleanor McLaughlin, eds., New York, Simon and Schuster, 1979.
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