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Macarius of Egypt

d. c.390. Ascetic writer. Also called “the Elder” or “the Great,” he was a native of Upper Egypt and lived for some sixty years in the wilderness of Scete, the center of Egyptian monasticism. He gained a reputation as an ascetic and therefore became a highly respected holy man. Palladius and Rufinus give accounts of him, although without mentioning that he was a writer. From the sixteenth century, however, he has been credited as the author of fifty homilies. These are of great importance in mystical theology, and scholars point out that they have similarities to the Messalian* heresy. It is possible these writings were by an anonymous writer who was called “blessed” (makarios). Seven further homilies were discovered in 1918, but it is not now considered that these can be attributed to Macarius.