Saint Macarius of Jerusalem, Bishop

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Home > Media > News > Saint Macarius of Jerusalem, Bishop
Saint Macarius of Jerusalem, Bishop

Macarius lived in the 4th century and like many saints from that early period, little information is available about him. He is noted for his defence against the heresy of Arianism (denial of the divinity of Christ) and his role in erecting the first basilica on the site of the Holy Sepulchre.

Bishop of Jerusalem from 312 - 335AD, his signature appears on the documents of the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) supporting belief in his involvement in the drafting of the Nicene Creed which we profess in the Mass, and which remains common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day.

At the Emperor Constantine’s direction, following the Council a search was initiated for the sites of the Resurrection and the Passion, and for the True Cross. In the time of Hadrian the Sepulchre site had been piled over with earth and stonework and a temple dedicated to the goddess Venus established.

Ecclesiastical historians of the period describe how three crosses and the titulus from Jesus’s crucifixion were recovered by Constantine’s mother, St Helena during work to restore the Sepulchre site. Faced with determining which of the three the True Cross was, Bishop Macarius is reported to have had the three crosses placed in turn on a deathly ill woman who recovered at the touch of the third cross - providing evidence of its provenance as the Cross of Christ.
St Macarius is just one among the early Church fathers to whom we are indebted for the sacred deposit of faith they preserved and proclaimed and by whose witness we are encouraged in our Lenten discipline.

By Michael McKenna, Director, Office of Liturgy