Matrona
ID:
 
1565
 
Country:
 
Turkey
 
Region:
 
Akdeniz kıyısı
 
Town:
 
Perge (modern Aksu)
 
Town:
 
Constantinople, Emesa (modern Hims), Jerusalem, Mt. Sinai, Beirut
 
Location of Work:
 
Constantinople
 
Spouse:
 
Dometianos
 
Children:
 

Theodote

 
Communities:
 

Matrona spent the first three years of her monastic life in the male monastery of Bassianos, dressed in disguise. Matrona then moved to a monastery in Emesa, and after traveling to Jerusalem, Mt. Sinai, and Beirut in order to flee her husband, she returned to Constantinople and founded Matrones.

 
Ecclesiastical Relationships:
 

According to the chronicler Theophanes (d. 818), Anastasios I (491-518) and his patriarch Makedonios II (496-511) pressured a number of monasteries to follow their non-Chalcedonian policies; Matrona's monastery Matrones and Bassianos' monastery were among these. Matrona refused to comply, and Makedonios left her unyielding monastery in peace.

 
Feast Day:
 
Matrones commemorated Matrona on Nov. 9.
 
Founder of:
  
Literary Works:
 

An anonymous male wrote the vita of Matrona, probably in the 6th century or later. He may have been a monk in Bassianos' monastery. Mango, in Introduction, suggests that this male author had a written source, possibly the nun Eulogia. It is unclear how much of the vita is genuine and how much was added by a later redactor.

Theodore Lector (c. 525) mentioned Matrona in his Theodoros Anagnostes Kirchengeschichte. He described her as abandoning her husband and family and pretending to be a eunuch in order to enter a men's monastery (109.3-6).

 
Brief Profile:
 

The Life of St. Matrona of Perge describes the life of Matrona. Born and married in Perge, Matrona and her husband moved to Constantinople, where Matrona began to be mentored by a woman named Eugenia. Soon she developed a friendship the widow Susannah, who lived next to the Holy Apostles Church in Constantinople, and gave her daughter to Susannah to be cared for. Matrona fervently desired to enter into the monastic life, but she was still married. She chose to cut her hair, dress herself as a eunuch, and in disguise enter the all-male monastery of Bassianos. She took the name Babylas and lived for a while undetected. However, Bassianos learned in a dream that Matrona was a woman. Bassianos asked Matrona to leave but recognized the her holiness. Matrona returned to Susannah and discovered that her daughter had died.

Meanwhile, Matrona's husband searched for her throughout the city. When Bassianos heard of this, he encouraged Matrona to join the female monastery of Hilaria in Emesa. Matrona did so, but as her fame as a holy woman grew, Dometianos soon sought her in Emesa. So Matrona fled to Jerusalem. When Dometianos followed her there, she fled to Mt. Sinai then to Beirut. While in Beirut, other young women began to follow her, many of whom were freedwomen (former slaves).

Spurred by a dream, Matrona returned to Constantinople with her cohort of freedwomen and sought out blessing from her mentor Bassianos. Bassianos and Markellos encouraged Matrona to found her own monastery, Matrones, which she acted as head of for the rest of her life.

 
Manuscript sources:
 

One manuscript survives for Matrona's vita, Par. gr. 1519.

A manuscript of the Menologion of Basil II includes a portrait of Matrona standing in front of her monastery. Vat. gr. 1613, fol. 169.