Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Marcella, Widow
SHE is styled by St. Jerom the glory of the Roman ladies. Having lost her husband in the seventh month of her marriage, she rejected the suit of Cerealis the consul, uncle of Gallus Cæsar, and resolved to imitate the lives of the ascetics of the East. She abstained from wine and flesh, employed all her time in pious reading, prayer, and visiting the churches of the apostles and martyrs, and never spoke with any man alone. Her example was followed by many virgins of the first quality, who put themselves under her direction, and Rome was in a short time filled with monasteries. We have eleven letters of St. Jerom to her in answer to her religious queries. The Goths under Alaric plundered Rome in 410. St. Marcella was scourged by them for the treasures which she had long before distributed among the poor. All that time she trembled only for her dear spiritual pupil, Principia, (not her daughter, as some have reputed her by mistake,) and falling at the feet of the cruel soldiers, she begged, with many tears, that they would offer her no insult. God moved them to compassion. They conducted them both to the church of St. Paul, to which Alaric had granted the right of sanctuary with that of St. Peter. St. Marcella, who survived this but a short time, which she spent in tears, prayers, and thanksgiving, closed her eyes by a happy death, in the arms of St. Principia, about the end of August, in 410, but her name occurs in the Roman Martyrology on the 31st of January. See St. Jerom, Ep. 96. ol. 16. ad Principiam, t. 4. p. 778. Ed. Ben. Baronius ad ann. 410. and Bollandus, t. 2. p. 1105.