Women Priests in the South of Italy and in Sicily

Women Priests in the South of Italy and in Sicily

Guilia Runa Woman Priest

There may be evidence to accept that from the 2nd to the 6th centuries AD, women priests - presbyterae - functioned in the South of Italy and in Sicily. Here are some examples:

1. A fourth-century tombstone (image to the right) records the burial of ‘Guilia Runa, woman priest’.

2. Another inscription of the 5th century records the life of "Leta Presbitera": "Sacred to her good memory. Leta the Presbyter lived 40 years, 8 months, 9 days, for whom her husband set up this tomb. She preceded him in peace on the day before the Ides of May". The epitaph refers to a presbyter Leta, having died at just over forty, for whom her husband had set up a tomb; this inscription comes from the catacomb of Tropea, a small town that has offered the most consistent epigraphical and monumental documentation of Paleochristian Bruttium. See image below.

B(onae) m(emoriae) s(acrum). Leta presbitera/vixit annos XL, menses VIII, dies VIIII/ quei (scil. cui) bene fecit maritus/ Precessit in pace pridie/idus Maias

Up to now many scholars have always construed the term presytera as the ‘wife of the presbyter’. New evidence suggests that the Leta of the epigraph of Tropea was a true and proper presbytera: that is, a woman who was practising the sacerdotal ministry in the Christian community of Tropea. An analysis of the archeological evidence, as well as literary evidence, including Pope Gelasius’ letter (494 AD) and the testimony of Bishop Atto of Vercelli (9th cent.), has led Professor Giorgio Otranto to firmly conclude to the presence of ministerial women priests in the South of Italy and Sicily.

Read his conclusions for yourself:

Overview Signs of a Vocation A woman's journey Steps to take Answering critics Writing your story
Six options for Catholic women who feel called to the priesthood?

Please, credit this document
as published by www.womenpriests.org!

There is no more 'man' or 'woman' in Christ. Gal 3,28

This website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church.

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research

Dear visitor, you are welcome to use our material. However: building up and maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but find it difficult to pay our overheads. Please, become a Friend or support us with a donation. Also, as some of you recommended to us, we are exploring how to generate income by advertising. Please, support us in this effort and send us your suggestions.
John Wijngaards

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research

Miriam Duignan

Please, support our campaign
for women priests

Visit our new websites:

Natural Law and Conscience

Synod on the Family 2015

Catholics and Contraception

Join our Women Priests' Mailing List
for occasional newsletters:
An email will be immediately sent to you
requesting your confirmation.