After Athanasius, Rome welcomed another famous Christian author: Jerome (today best-known for his Latin translation of the Bible). Jerome’s fame had preceded him both as ascetic and as exegete, and Marcella had many questions to ask him. At first, he shunned her. He was a firm believer in celibacy for the clergy and in chastity as a holier form of life, so he avoided, “out of modesty,” any eye-contact with Marcella and her friends. But she didn’t give up, insisting until she gained his attention. Her questions were specific and thorough.
Marcella became a widow after only seven months of marriage. Being a young and pretty noblewoman, she had no shortage of suitors. Even a consul, Neratius Cerealis (in office from 328 to 358 AD) asked insistently for her hand. He was much older than her, but promised her riches and guidance. Marcella’s mother, Albina (also a widow), saw it as a golden opportunity.
Marcella - Days - Hermits - Communities - Athanasius
Marcella was not interested. Those were the days of the great hermits and early monastic communities. Athanasius’s Life of Anthony was a bestseller, especially among young believers who thought Constantine’s edict of toleration of Christians had made life too easy and...
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