Saint Marcellina

Saint Marcellina (c. 327 – 397) was born in Trier, Gaul the daughter of the Praetorian prefect of Gaul, and was the older sister of Saint Ambrose of Milan. She devoted her life to the practice of prayer and asceticism. Her feast day is July 17.

Saint Marcellina
Sainte Marcellina.jpg
Saint Marcelline
Trier, Gaul
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church, Orthodox Church
FeastJuly 17


Marcellina was born in Trier, Gaul around the year 330 into a Roman Christian family. Her father served as Praetorian prefect of Gaul. The sister of Ambrose of Milan, she was older than her two brothers. About the year 354 Ambrosius, the father, died, whereupon the family moved to Rome.[1] It appears that after the death of their parents, she took responsibility for the upbringing of her younger brothers, Ambrose and Satyrus.[2]

As the eldest sister in her family, she made it a point to pass her younger brothers the "desire not to express their virtue, but to become truly virtuous." She devoted herself to the practice of piety and asceticism, and received the veil of consecrated virginity from Pope Liberius.[3] This life she led called for continual abstinence, dedication to prayer, strict fasting, etc.[4] The life chosen by Saint Marcellina was one of great sacrifice.

After Ambrose had become Bishop of Milan in 374, he summoned his sister, and found in her a zealous assistant in fostering and extending the ascetic life among the maidens of Milan. Paulinus the Deacon, who wrote a biography of Ambrose at the request of Augustine of Hippo, learned the details of Ambrose's life from Marcellina.[5]

Marcellina survived her brother by a year, dying in 398. Honored as a saint, she was buried in the crypt under the altar of the Ambrosian Basilica in Milan.[6]


Ambrose dedicated his work on virginity, written in 377, Libri III de virginibus ad Marcellinam to her.[3]

The Institute St. Marcellina was established in 1955 in Hampstead, London in honor of Marcellina herself. The institute, run by the Sisters of St. Marcellina, is a residence for foreign students.[7]


  •   Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Saint Marcellina". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.