A citizen of Alexandria, Macarius abandoned his work as a confectioner while still young and chose instead a life of asceticism in the deserts of Egypt. He spent some 40 years learning and practicing monastic life in Upper Egypt, beginning about 335, then moved to Lower Egypt, where he moved among hermit’s cells in three different deserts. Desert monks lived alone but worshipped together on Saturday and Sunday. According to his disciple Palladius, Macarius was austere and rigorous. Macarius of Alexandria is recalled in the canon of the Coptic-rite Mass, and is often confused with his namesake, St. Macarius the Egyptian, also the Elder, who lived at the same time and whose feast is also in January.