Saint Macarius the Great
Saint Macarius (c.300 – 391) was one of the Desert Fathers – early Christian hermits, ascetics, and monks who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt, beginning in the third century AD.
As a youth, he worked tending cattle but felt called to lead the life of a hermit. When he was about thirty years old, he retired to the Scetes desert, where he spent the remainder of his life. With time, other men seeking a life of solitude, prayer and penance went to live by him. An Egyptian bishop then compelled Saint Macarius to receive the priesthood to better serve the small community.
During this period, the Arian heresy had propagated within the Church. Lucius, the Arian bishop of Alexandria, dispersed the community and had the Arian Emperor, Valens, exile Saint Macarius to an island in the Nile delta. There, he miraculously healed the daughter of the local pagan priest. As a result, the island’s whole population converted to the Catholic faith. When Emperor Valens heard of this, he allowed Saint Macarius to leave exile and return to his cell in the Scetes desert and permitted the community to form again.
Saint Macarius died in the year 391. His body is found today in the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great, in Scetes, Egypt.