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700 - 800 AD


from a perspective of women in the Church


 

Timeline

before Christ
0-100 AD
100-200
200-300
300-400
400-500
500-600
600-700
700-800
800-900
900-1000
1000-1100
1100-1200
1200-1300
1300-1400
1400-1500
1500-1600
1600-1700
1700-1800
1800-1900
1900-1950
1950-2000
2000-2050

 

This century saw much political and social turmoil in the Middle East and Europe.

Muslims made more conquests in North Africa, Spain and France. Their advance into western Europe was successfully halted by Charles Martel at Poitiers in 732.

Christianity was rift apart by the conflict over the veneration of images. Byzantine Emperor Leo III initiates a programme of iconoclasm. This process is reversed by the Second Council of Nicea.

New political masters take over in various countries. The Franks take control of France culminating in the rule of the Carolingians. Carlemagne subjected most of present-day Germany and the Netherlands. The Saxons consolidate various kingdoms in Britain. In all those countries the Church was young, with monks trying to combine Latin traditions with the new indigenous cultures.

Only in the Byzantine empire, reduced to mainly Asia Minor and Greece, the Church continued its ancient traditions.



Carolingian
women



Women Deacons 700 - 800

Ordination rites for women deacons have been preserved in some very old manuscripts. The Barberini gr. 336 manuscript was copied from a master text in Constantinople around 780 AD. Its contents are much older and reflect Byzantine practice during the height of the diaconate practice from the 3rd to 8th centuries AD.

While the bishop imposes hands on the woman offering herself for the diaconate, he prays:

“Holy and Omnipotent Lord, through the birth of your Only Son our God from a Virgin according to the flesh, you have sanctified the female sex. You grant not only to men, but also to women the grace and coming of the Holy Spirit.
Please, Lord, look on this your maid servant and dedicate her to the task of your diaconate, and pour out into her the rich and abundant giving of your Holy Spirit.
Preserve her so that she may always perform her ministry (leitourgia) with orthodox faith and irreproachable conduct, according to what is pleasing to you.
For to you is due all glory and honour.”

 

The theme of Mary’s priestly dignity
700 - 800

During this century the spiritual writer Epiphanius II clearly professed Mary's status as priest.

“ . . . . O Virgin, awesome treasure of the Church
who holds the great mystery.
I call the Virgin both priest and altar,
she, the ‘table-bearer’
who has given us the Christ,
the heavenly bread for the forgiveness of sins.”

690-750
Monk in the monastery of St. Sabbas near Jerusalem
7th-8th century
Homily entitled ‘De laudibus Virginis’

Local Church Synods and councils 700 - 800

When women are mentioned in new regulations, the concern is usually to reduce their involvement in the Church.

780-821
While a priest is celebrating Mass, women should in no way approach the altar..., etc.

John Wijngaards