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Women Deacons Saints

Women Deacons


Apollonia

Alexandria
She is honoured not only in the Eastern Church, but also in the West. She lived in Alexandria in the third century. She was ordained a deacon and exercised her ministry as a deacon at a time when pagans were attempting to prevent the growth of Christianity. She was put to death by a mob by being burned on a fire. deacon

Athanasia

Delphi
This fifth century noble lady was ordained a deacon by Bishop Pantamianos. As other women deacons in Greece, her main task was to instruct women catechumens and then assist at their baptism. She also welcomed the women at Church services, brought communion to the sick, anointed the sick with oil and helped at funerals. deacon

Domnika

Alexandria
She lived in Alexandria in the late fourth century. In order to avoid a forced marriage she ran away from home. Patriarch Nektarios of Constantinople ordained her ‘to the priestly rank of the diaconate in Christ’. She set up a religious community of women and was involved in a ministry of teaching, but towards the end of her life she withdrew into a solitary life in the desert. deacon

Genevieve of Paris

France
Born at Nanterre in 422 AD, she consecrated her life to God while still living at home. She served the local poor and when her parents died, she moved to Paris. She was appointed by the Bishop of Paris to look after the welfare of all the consecrated women. She also taught the women catechumens and took care of the poor and needy. deacon

Gorgonia

Turkey
She was the daughter of Bishop St Gregory of Nazianze and St Nonna. She married and had three children. She dedicated her life to the study of scripture. She was ordained a deacon and developed a ministry to the needy by opening her house to the poor to feed them and provide shelter. She lived in fourth- century Bithynia. deacon

Irene of Chrysovalantou

Turkey
Born in the late ninth century she came from a well-known Roman family with wealth and status. She entered monastic life at Chrysovalantou in Constantinople. She was ordained a deacon in the great Cathedral of St Sophia and appointed abbess of her community. She was noted for her prophetic wisdom and as a spiritual guide to her community. deacon

Junia

Rome
Junia is mentioned in Scripture (Rom. 16:7). Paul calls her an ‘apostle and fellow prisoner’. The term ‘apostle’ is reserved in Paul’s letters to persons who received a direct commission from Christ. According to ancient tradition, she was also ordained as a deacon. She is venerated as such in the Orthodox Church. Feast day 17 May. deacon

Lydia

Greece
When Paul came to Philippi in Macedonia, Lydia the seller of purple goods heard him preach. She was converted and was baptised along with all her household. She invited Paul to use her home as his headquarters (Acts 16:7-5). Ancient tradition venerates her as a deacon. Feast day 3 August. deacon

Macrina

Turkey
Macrina was the eldest of ten children, sister of the great Cappadocian Church leaders Sts Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebaste. Gregory has left a description of her life. First she looked after the rest of her family. Then she founded a monastery.at Annisa of Pontus. In the Orthodox calendar she is venerated as a deacon. Feast day 19 July. deacon

Melania the Younger

Jerusalem
She was born in Rome during the late fourth century. She was married and had two children who died at an early age. She looked after her parents. Later she went to Jerusalem and started to live a solitary life, but she attracted many women to her way of life, some of whom, like herself were deacons. She founded a convent for them. deacon

Nonna

Italy
Born around 290 in Cappadocia (now part of Turkey) she married Gregory and converted him to Christianity. He went on to become a Bishop and they had three children who all became saints. By her example of Christian living and her ministry as a deacon she set an example of what it is to be a mother and Christian minister. Feast day on 5 August. deacon

Olympias

Turkey
Olympias was a friend of St John Chrysostom. She was ordained a deacon by him and was put in charge of all the deacons assigned to the great Church of St Sophia in Constantinople. She supported John when he was exiled by the Emperor on false charges. John addressed his letters to her as: “the reverend God-Loved deacon Olympias”. deacon

Pentadia

Turkey
Pentadia served as a deacon at the Cathedral of St Sophia in Constantinople. She shared Olympias’ function as superior of a large community of religious women. She showed moral strength in a time of conflict within the church, remaining loyal to the exiled Patriarch St John Chrysostom who wrote letters to her. She lived in the fourth century. deacon

Phoebe

Cenchreae
St Paul calls her “deacon of the church at Cenchreae” (Rom 16:1-2), indicating that she held the ministry instituted by the Church (Acts 6,1-6). She is the first known woman deacon and was seen as the prototype for ordained women deacons in the Early Church. The Orthodox Church celebrates her feast day on the 3 September. deacon

Platonida

Syria
Platonida was a deacon who, at first, ministered in her local parish. Later she became abbess of a monastery of women in the desert of Nisibis in Syria. Platonida was noted for her austerity of life. She only ate once a day. She lived to a great old age and was respected by all for her wisdom. She died in 308, feast day on 6 April. deacon

Poplia

Syria
Poplia lived during the fourth century in Antioch. She was married and gave birth to a son who became a priest. After her husband died, she herself was ordained into the diaconate. She was a gifted leader of women and the local church. During persecution she was tortured for her Christian belief. deacon

Priscilla

Ephesus
Priscilla was a Jewish tentmaker who left Rome under the persecution of Claudius c 49 and settled in Corinth, where she entertained St Paul who was also a tent maker. She and her husband travelled with Paul to Ephesus (Acts 18,18-19). Her home became the local Church, both in Rome and again back in Ephesus. (2 Tim 4,19). St Paul calls her his ‘co-apostle’. Feast day 13 February. apostle
and deacon

Procla

Turkey
Like Pentadia, Procla was ordained a deacon by St John Chrysostom in the fourth century. She served as a deacon in the Cathedral of St Sophia in Constantinople, instructing adult catechumen women and assisting at their baptism. She is not be confused with Pilate’s wife who, according to tradition, was also called ‘Procla’! deacon

Radegunde

Germany
She was born to royalty in the 6th century in Thuringia. Her father was murdered and she was taken as a prisioner. She was forced to marry Clothaire of Gaul. She devoted her life to the poor. When her husband became violent, she ran away from him. She was ordained a deacon by Bishop Medardus of Noyon “who laid hands on her”. She founded a ‘free convent’ at Poitiers, that is free from political or ecclesiastical interference. queen and
deacon

Sophia of Jerusalem

Palestine
Sophia was a fourth-century deacon who ministered in Jerusalem. Her tombstone says: “Here rests the servant and bride of Christ, Sophia, the deacon, the second Phoebe”. Probably she looked after the sick and dying like the woman deacon Aeneon who was buried close to her. deacon

Tabitha

Israel
She is mentioned in Acts 9,36-42 where she is also called Dorcas. She lived at Joppa and was a woman who was noted for her Christian life, good works and almsgiving. When she fell ill, St Peter came and healed her through his prayers. Ancient tradition says that she was ordained a deacon. Her feast day is celebrated on 25 October. deacon

Tatiana

Italy
Tatiana was born of a wealthy family in Rome and educated as a Christian.. She was ordained a deacon. She visited goals, tended the sick and helped the needy. Eventually under the reign of Alexander Severus around the year 225 she was brought before the magistrate Ulypian. When she refused to deny her faith, she was made to face lions in the Coliseum, then beheaded. Feast 25 Jan. deacon

Theosebia

Greece
She was the wife of St Gregory of Nyssa, the Doctor of the Church. She was ordained as a deacon after her husband had been ordained a bishop in 371, and she remained with him during his ministry and shared it with him. She had a great influence upon her husband and she herself was known as a great teacher of the faith, also by her example of the Christian life. Her feast recurs on 10 January. deacon

Xenia

Greece
Born in Rome as ‘Eusebia’, the only daughter of a senator, she refused to marry as her parents desired. She fled to Kos with two servants where she started a community for women. She adopted the name ‘Xenia’ locals had given her (= ‘stranger’). She ministered as a deacon. She proved a great teacher of the faith. Her feast day falls on 4 February. deacon

Mary of Magdala

Israel
The Gospel tells us that Mary of Magdala was one of the women who accompanied Jesus and the twelve apostles when they preached the Good News to the people of Galilee (Luke 8,1-3). Mary stood under the cross of Jesus (Matthew 27,56) and saw the risen Christ after his resurrection (John 20,11-18). Mary of Magdala played a large symbolic role for the early Christians. She was credited with having been very close to Jesus and with having received special revelations from him which she passed on to the apostles. The Fathers of the Church present Mary as a model disciple and an important witness to the risen Lord.

Ancient tradition recounted that it was Mary who saved the faith of the apostles when they doubted whether Jesus had truly risen. She received the title: ‘apostle of the apostles’.

According to tradition, Mary was the first woman with a ministry. Peter said to Mary, "Sister, we know that the Saviour loved you. Tell us the words of the Saviour which you remember - which you know (but) we do not." Gospel of Peter

Jesus told Mary: “Announce to my disciples the mysteries you have seen. Be the first teacher of the teachers. Peter must learn that I can also choose women to be my apostles.” Gregory of Antioch.

When we in our little Christian communities, high up in the Andes, gather in memory of Jesus, there is no power or authority on earth that can convince me that Jesus is not personally present. ” (source?)


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