600 - 700 AD
from a perspective
of women in the Church
Byzantine part of the Church, theologians and preachers had been reflecting on
Mary's relationship to Jesus the Highpriest. They realised that Mary had to be
priestly herself since she gave birth to the Priest of Priests.
A legend grew up that stated
that Mary had spent her youth in the Holy of Holies of the temple of Jerusalem.
“There where only
the High Priest may enter, and then rarely - only once a year, it is there in
this holy sanctuary of grace that Mary is offered to stay there indefinitely.
Who has ever heard anything similar? Who has ever seen or heard, now or
formerly, that a woman was introduced into the intimacy of the Holy of Holies,
and that it was in this place, almost inaccessible even to men, that she lived
and ate. Is this not a striking demonstration of the strange magnificence of
which her womb would be the object? Is it not a manifest sign, a irrefutable
proof?” - St
Germanus 633 - 733
The Greek Fathers expressed
their belief in Mary's priestly status in
the many new
titles which they gave her.
St Andrew of
Crete mentions the following:
* ‘spiritual altar of the divine
victim, altar consecrated and dedicated to God’;
* ‘sanctuary of all sacrificial
* 'the most holy table [= altar] which has carried
by itself the living bread, Our Lord and God Jesus Christ, eternal life made
bread . . . . ’.
from an ancient fresco
Women Deacons 600 - 700
Women continued to minister as deacons during this century.
Moab's epitaph (left) reads: "Here lies deacon[ess] Maria daughter of Valens who lived
thirty-eight years and died in the year 538 [= 643 or 644
The theme of
Marys priestly dignity
600 - 700
In the oratorio of San
Venanzio, Rome (642 AD),
Mary is portrayed
as the High Priest, raising her hands as she intercedes for people and
wearing a pallium.
Local Church Synods and councils 600 -
Fear of menstruation and of women in
general underlies many regulations about women laid down in local
A priest should not put the
holy Eucharist into the hands of any lay person or woman, but only into their
Bishop Timothy of
Alexandria made a number of pronouncements concerning women
During the time of
menstruation women should not enter into church or receive communion ...
Attended by 211
Greek-speaking Bishops. Made a number of decrees concerning women.