Marcella is credited as one of the founders of monasticism. Widowed at a young age after just nine months of marriage, she formed a small community of noble women dedicated to a life of austerity and asceticism. Her home, which had been a center of Roman society, was now a place for pilgrims, for the poor, and a gathering place for the women in her community. A close friend of St. Jerome, she felt free to spar with him on theological matters and to dispute his translations of the Scriptures. She died soon after being tortured by the Goths who were seeking the hiding place of her wealth, which had long ago been given away to the poor.
In one of St. Jerome’s letters, a memoir of Marcella, he describes her love of scripture and says “She was forever singing these verses, Your words have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against you,(Psalm 119:11) as well as the words, his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law does he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:2)”