Women Can Be Priests

Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008

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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/11/21 02:43:21 (permalink)
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Illuminated page from Gengenbach/Baden Evangelistery (Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart), Germany, dated ca. 1150 AD.
 
The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary who is dressed in priestly vestments. In tradition, theologians often remark on the fact that Mary’s response: “Let it be done to me according to your word”, caused the Incarnation to take place, and so her words made Christ present, just as the priest’s words of consecration make Christ present in the Eucharist. See St. Antoninus of Florence OP, J. Duvergier de Hauranne and Bishop J.Nazlian. 
 
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/11/26 18:33:13 (permalink)
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Born on this day November 26 in 1858 - Katharine Drexel, advocate for racial tolerance, founder of religious order.

Katharine Mary Drexel (1858-1955) is a Roman Catholic saint who dedicated her life and inheritance to the needs of oppressed Native Americans and Blacks in the West and Southwest US, and was a vocal advocate of racial tolerance. To address racial injustice and destitution and spread the Gospel to these groups, Katharine established a religious order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. Because Katharine felt a universal need for education, especially among Blacks and Native Americans, she financed more than 60 missions and schools around the United States. Because of her lifelong dedication to her faith and her selfless service to the oppressed, Pope John Paul II canonized her on October 1, 2000 to become only the second recognized American-born saint.


Katherine Drexel
 
Life
 
Katharine was the second daughter of Philadelphia banker and philanthropist Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Jane Langstroth, his first wife. Langstroth died when Katharine was only five weeks old, and her father remarried to Emma Bouvier Drexel (Tarry 1958).

As a young woman, Katherine visited the Western US with her family. On this trip, she witnessed destitution and poverty among the Native Americans. This experience inspired her to help alleviate their condition, and in 1887 she established her first school, the St. Catherine Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. During a visit to Pope Leo XIII in Rome to request missionaries to staff the schools she was funding, the Pope suggested Katharine become a missionary herself. On February 12, 1891, in an arrangement with Archbishop James O'Connor, Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People.
 
From the age of 33 until her death in 1955, she dedicated her life and personal fortune of US $20 million to this work. Other schools quickly followed—for Native Americans west of the Mississippi, and for the African Americans in the southern part of the United States. In 1915 she also founded Xavier Preparatory School and in 1925 Xavier University in New Orleans. St. Katharine also founded many chapels, convents, and monasteries. Blessed Sacrament Monastery in Tucson, Arizona is an example of the tasteful architecture that she advocated for religious institutions.

In 1935, Katharine suffered a severe heart attack, and for the next twenty years she lived in retirement. She died on March 3, 1955, at the age of 96 at St. Elizabeth Convent in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania. At her death there were more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the country.

Sainthood
 
Katharine was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000 to become only the second recognized American-born saint. The Vatican identified in Katharine a four-fold legacy: A love of the Eucharist and her perspective on the unity of all peoples; courage and initiative in addressing social inequality among minorities; her efforts to achieve quality education for all; and her selfless service, including the donation of her inheritance, for the victims of injustice. She is known as the Patron Saint of racial justice, as well as philanthropists.
 
Her feast day is March 3, the anniversary of her death. She is buried in Cornwells Heights, Bensalem Township.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Drexel
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/09 08:21:25 (permalink)
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Today, December 9 is the feast day of Saint Leocadia

Saint Leocadia is a Spanish saint who is thought to have died on December 9, c.304 in the Diocletian persecution. The small town of Leocadia near Samaraes between Braga and Guimaraes in Northern Portugal is named after her.

In the historical martyrologies of the ninth century, St. Leocadia of Toledo is honoured among these martyrs on 9 December. Her name is not mentioned by Prudentius in his hymn on the Spanish Martyrs, but in very early times there was a church dedicated to her at Toledo. In the first half of the seventh century this church was mentioned as the meeting-place of the Fourth Synod of Toledo in 633, as well as of the fifth in 636, and the sixth in 638.


Saint Leocadia

Long before that date, therefore, Leocadia must have been publicly honoured as a martyr. The basilica in question was evidently erected over her grave. There is no doubt of the historical fact of her martyrdom, whilst the date of 9 December for her annual commemoration obviously rests on the tradition of the Church of Toledo. More recently compiled Acts relate that Leocadia was filled with a desire for martyrdom through the story of the martyrdom of St. Eulalia.

By order of the governor, Decianus, who is described in the martyrology as the most furious persecutor of the Christians in Spain, she was seized and cruelly tortured in order to make her apostatize, but she remained steadfast and was sent back to prison, where she died from the effects of the torture. A church was built over her grave, besides which are two others at Toledo dedicated to her. She is the patroness of the diocese, and 9 December is still given as her feast in the Roman Martyrology.


Santa Leocadia ante el pretor
Autor:
Mariano Salvador Maella
 Fecha:1775
Museo:
Catedral de Toledo
Características:90 x 73 cm.
Material:
Oleo sobre lienzo
Estilo:
Neoclasicismo Español
http://www.artehistoria.jcyl.es/genios/cuadros/2763.htm

Leocadia's Relics

She was buried in the local cemetery, near the Tagus, where soon a cult sprung around her grave. It is thought that a basilica was built in the fourth century, improved upon in 618 by Sisebur. The seventh century saw a flourishing of her cult.


Crypt of Saint Leocadia

During the reign of
Alfonso X of Castile, the prison where she is said to have been incarcerated still carried proof of her habitation. A contemporary witness records: "There still existed, and we touched it, a sign of the cross impressed in the stone because the martyr constantly touched the walls with her fingers that sign of our redemption."

During the ninth century, her relics were moved during the persecutions of Abd ar-Rahman II. They were moved to Oviedo; Alfonso the Chaste erected a basilica there in her honor. In the eleventh century, a Count of Hainault arrived in Spain as a pilgrim to Compostela. He fought alongside Alfonso VI of Castile in campaigns of the Reconquista, and received in recompense the relics of Saint Leocadia and Saint Sulpicius (Sulpicio). Thus, her relics were taken out of Spain.


Exterior of the Holy Chamber of Saint Leocadia

Her relics were known to have been located at the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Ghislain, in present-day BelgiumHer relics were venerated there by Philip the Handsome and Joanna of Castile, who obtained for Toledo a tibia of the saint. The abbey of Saint-Ghislain suffered depredations in the wars of the 16th century. Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba attempted unsuccessfully to rescue the rest of her relics. However, a Jesuit named Miguel Hernández, a native of Toledo Province, found her relics in 1583. After many travels, he brought them to Rome in 1586. They were brought to Valencia by sea, and then finally brought to Toledo from Cuenca. Philip II of Spain presided over a solemn ceremony commemorating the final translation of her relics to Toledo, in April 1587.

She is represented with a tower, to signify that she died in prison. 


Church of Santa Leocadia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Leocadia
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/09 08:27:34 (permalink)
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Dear friends,

The persecution and martyrdom of early Christians is a thread in our history which bears weight in the case for women's ordination.  As we learn about the heroism of early Christian martyrs, we also learn about the role women martyrs play in the case for women priests.


The Martyrdom of Saint Justine during the Diocletian persecutions

Through their actions and presence as heroic martyrs for our faith, women no less than men, have throughout Catholic history witnessed to their Christian faith unto death. According to ancient tradition, men or women on the way to martyrdom had the power to forgive sins.  They share in the power of the keys binding and loosing sins on behalf of Christ -- one of the sacramental ministries of a priest.



The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (3rd cent) states that any ‘confessor’ imprisoned for faith automatically attained the rank of presbyter (priest) in the Roman communities.

Sts. Irenaeus (2nd cent) and Cyprian (3rd cent) apply this ‘power of martyrdom’ equally to women confessors. Since women, too, shared in the power of the keys, binding and loosening on behalf of Christ, women, too belong in Holy Orders.

To learn more about who were some early women martyrs, I invite you to browse through this thread.  Stellar holy women: martyrs, abbesses, deacons, leaders and prophets who have walked before us throughout Christian history.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/12 00:56:13 (permalink)
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Born this day December 12 in 1779 - Madeleine Sophie Barat, French saint
Feastday: May 25
 
She was daughter of Jacques Barat, a cooper who worked with the vineyards. Naturally bright, she was educated by her older brother Louis, a monk. When she was ten years old, France underwent Revolution with its suppression of Christian schools. The education of the young, particularly young girls, was in a troubled state.
 

 
As Madeline grew older, her brother feared she would be exposed to too much of the world, and so brought her to Paris with him. She wanted to be a Carmelite lay sister, but with Father Joseph Varin and three other postulants, she founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1801, who are devoted to the Sacred Heart, and dedicated to teaching girls. She became Superior General of the Society at age 23, and held the position for 63 years. Receiving papal approval of the Society in 1826, she founded 105 houses in many countries; Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne and four companions brought the Society to the United States.
 
Mother Barat died in Paris. She was canonized on May 24, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Mother Barat had a college named after her located in Lake Forest, IL which was merged with DePaul University from 2001 until 2005 when DePaul decided to close the school and focus its financial resources towards their other campuses in Chicago and surrounding suburbs where they had a satellite campus. The final class at Barat College finished June 11th, 2005 exactly 100 years to the day the first graduating class finished at Barat in the spring/summer of 1905. Currently Old Main on the Barat campus sits because under laws with Lake Forest and because Barat College is also on the national registry of historical places making it a landmark which under legal statutes can't be touched for any reason. So the land developer who ended up buying the campus can't alter it because they can be sued for altering a historical landmark giving the fact that there's also a cemetery to the rear of the school where the Sisters of the Sacred Heart were buried which also increases the historical value of the college grounds. Pictures of the college can be seen online since nobody can actually visit the grounds at this point.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_Sophie_Barat
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/13 00:00:32 (permalink)
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Mexicans gather outside the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to celebrate the feast day of the patroness Dec. 12 in Mexico City. The feast marks the appearance of Mary to St. Juan Diego in 1531. (CNS/Reuters)
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/14 05:49:39 (permalink)
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Today December 14 is the anniversary of the death of Catherine Doherty in 1985.
 

Catherine Doherty, 1974
 
Servant of God Catherine Doherty (August 15, 1896 - December 15, 14, 1985) was a social activist and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate. A pioneer of social justice and a renowned national speaker, Catherine was also a prolific writer of hundreds of articles, best-selling author of dozens of books, and a dedicated wife and mother.

Her cause for canonization is under consideration.

Her Life

She was born Ekaterina (Catherine) Fyodorovna Kolyschkine in Nizhny Novgorod, Russian Empire. Her parents, Fyodor and Emma Kolyschkine, belonged to the minor nobility and were devout members of the Russian Orthodox Church.  Catherine was baptised in St. Petersburg on September 15, 1896.

Schooled abroad because of her father's job, Catherine and her family returned to St. Petersburg in 1910, where she was enrolled in the prestigious Princess Obolensky Academy. In 1912, aged 15, she made what turned out to be a disastrous marriage with her first cousin, Boris de Hueck (1889-1947).

At the outbreak of World War I, Catherine de Hueck became a Red Cross nurse at the front, experiencing the horrors of battle firsthand. On her return to St. Petersburg, she and Boris barely escaped the turmoil of the  Russian Revolution with their lives, nearly starving to death as refugees in Finland. Together they made their way to England, where Catherine was received into the Catholic Church in 1919.

Emigrating to Canada with Boris, Catherine gave birth to their only child, George, in Toronto in 1921. Soon she and Boris became more and more painfully estranged from one another, as he pursued extramarital affairs. To make ends meet, Catherine took various jobs and eventually became a lecturer, travelling a circuit that took her across North America.
 
Friendship House

Prosperous now, but deeply dissatisfied with a life of material comfort, her marriage in ruins, Catherine began to feel the promptings of a deeper call through a passage that leaped to her eyes every time she opened the Bible: "Arise — go... sell all you possess... take up your cross and follow Me." Consulting with various priests and the bishop of the diocese, she began her lay apostolate among the poor in Toronto in the early 1930's, calling it Friendship House.

Because her interracial approach was so different from what was being done at the time, she encountered much persecution and resistance, and Friendship House was forced to close in 1936. Catherine then went to Europe and spent a year investigating Catholic Action. On her return, she was given the chance to revive Friendship House in New York City among the poor in Harlem. In time, more than a dozen Friendship Houses would be founded in North America.

In 1943, having received an annulment of her first marriage, she married Eddie Doherty, one of America's foremost reporters, who had fallen in love with her while writing a story about her apostolate.

Madonna House
 
Serious disagreements arose between the staff of Friendship House and its foundress, particularly surrounding her marriage. When these could not be resolved, Catherine and Eddie moved to Combermere, Ontario in 1947, naming their new rural apostolate Madonna House. This was to be the seedbed of an apostolate that, in the year 2000, numbered more than 200 staff workers and over 125 associate priests, deacons, and bishops, with 22 missionary field-houses throughout the world.

Catherine Doherty died on December 14, 1985 in Combermere at the age of 89. Since then, the cause for Catherine's canonization as a saint has been officially opened in the Catholic Church.
 
Her spirituality
 
The Little Mandate
 
The core of Catherine Doherty's spirituality is summarized in a "distillation" of the Gospel which she called "The Little Mandate" — words which she believed she received from Jesus Christ and which guided her life. It reads:

Arise — go! Sell all you possess. Give it directly, personally to the poor. Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me. Little — be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike. Preach the Gospel with your life — without compromise! Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you. Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me. Love... love... love, never counting the cost. Go into the marketplace and stay with Me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbour's feet. Go without fear into the depth of men's hearts. I shall be with you. Pray always. I will be your rest.

The spirituality expressed in The Little Mandate is also known as "the Madonna House way of life."
 
The duty of the moment
 
A central theme in Catherine Doherty's spirituality is the duty of the moment. As she herself put it:

"The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. You may not have Christ in a homeless person at your door, but you may have a little child. If you have a child, your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don't just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child.... There are all kinds of good Catholic things you can do, but whatever they are, you have to realize that there is always the duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God."

Poustinia
 
Catherine Doherty is perhaps best known for having introduced the concept of poustinia to Roman Catholicism through her best-selling book, Poustinia, first published in 1975. A poustinia is a small, sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God for 24 hours.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Doherty
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/15 23:09:51 (permalink)
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Saint Nino, Equal to the Apostles
(Georgian: წმინდა ნინო, Greek: Άγιη Νίνω),(sometimes Nina or Ninny)
Feastday:  December 15



St. Nino, Equal to the Apostles and the Enlightener of Georgia (c. 296-c. 338 or 340) was a woman who preached and introduced Christianity in Georgia.

According to most widely traditional accounts, she was from Kolastra, Cappadocia, was a relative of Saint George, and came to Georgia (ancient Iberia) from Constantinople. Other sources claim she was from Rome, Jerusalem or Gaul (modern France). She performed miraculous healings and converted the Georgian queen, Nana, and eventually the pagan king Mirian III of Iberia, who, lost in darkness and blinded on a hunting trip, found his way only after he prayed to “Nino’s God”. Mirian declared Christianity an official religion (c. 327) and Nino continued her missionary activities among Georgians until her death.

Her tomb is still shown at the Bodbe Monastery in Kakheti, eastern Georgia. St. Nino has become one of the most venerated saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church and her attribute, a Grapevine cross, is a symbol of Georgian Christianity.

Early Life

Many sources agree that Nino was born in the small town of Colastri, in the Roman province of Cappadocia, although a smaller number of sources disagree with this. On her family and origin, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have different traditions.
 
According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, she was the only child of the famous Roman general Zabulon. On her father's side, Nino was related to St. George, and on her mother's, to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Houbnal I.

During her childhood Nino was brought up by her relative and the nun named Sarah Bethlehemlianka. Nino’s uncle who served as the Patriarch of Jerusalem oversaw her traditional upbringing. Nino went to Rome with the help of her uncle where she decided to preach the Christian gospel in Iberia, known to her as the resting place of the Christ’s tunic. According to the legend, Nino received a vision where the Virgin Mary gave her a grapevine cross and said:

Go to Iberia and tell there the Good Tidings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will find favour before the Lord; and I will be for you a shield against all visible and invisible enemies. By the strength of this cross, you will erect in that land the saving banner of faith in My beloved Son and Lord.
While on her way to Iberia, passing through Anatolia into Caucasus, Nino managed to convert some villages to Christianity in Northern Anatolia and Armenia.

Contrasting with this, the Roman Catholic tradition says Nino was brought to Iberia not fully from her own intent, but as a slave, and that her family tree is obscure.

St Nino in Iberia
 
Nino reached the borders of ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia in about 320 A.D. There, she placed a Christian cross in the small town of Akhalkalaki and started preaching the Christian faith in Urbnis and finally reaching Mtskheta (the capital of Iberia). Iberian Kingdom has been influenced by the neighbouring Persian Empire which played an important role as the regional power in the Caucasus. The Iberian King Mirian III and his nation worshiped the syncretic gods of Armazi and Zaden. Soon after the arrival of Nino in Mstkheta, the Queen of Iberia Nana (daughter of King Asphagor) requested the audience with the Cappadician.

Queen Nana, who suffered from severe illness, had some knowledge of Christianity but not yet converted to it. Nino having restored her health, won to herself disciples from the Queen's attendants, including a Jewish priest and his daughter, Abiathar and Sidonia. Queen officially converted to Christianity and was baptized by Nino herself. King Mirian aware of his wife’s religious conversion was tolerant of her new faith however, he secluded himself from Nino and the growing Christian community in his kingdom. However, his isolation to Christianity did not last for long.

According to the legend, while on the hunting trip, the King was suddenly struck blind as the total darkness emerged in the woods. In a desperate state, King Mirian uttered the prayer to the God of St Nino:

If indeed that Christ whom the Captive had preached to his Wife was God, then let Him now deliver him from this darkness, that he too might forsake all other gods to worship Him.
As soon as he finished his prayer, the light appeared and the King hastily returned to his palace in Mtskheta. As the results of this miracle, the King of Iberia renounced idolatry under the teaching of St Nino and was baptized as the first Christian King of Iberia. Soon whole of his household and the inhabitants of Mtskheta adopted Christianity. In 327 A.D King Mirian made Christianity as the state religion of his kingdom, making Iberia the second Christian state after Armenia.

After adopting Christianity, Mirian sent an ambassador to Byzantium, asking Emperor Constantine I to have a bishop and priests sent to Iberia. Constantine having learned of Iberia’s conversion to Christianity, granted Mirian the church lands in Jerusalem and sent the delegation of Bishops to the court of the Georgian King. Roman historian Tyrannius Rufinus in Historia Ecclesiastica writes about Mirians request to Constantine:

After the church had been built with due magnificence, the people were zealously yearning for God's faith. So an embassy is sent on behalf of the entire nation to the Emperor Constantine, in accordance with the captive woman's advice. The foregoing events are related to him, and a petition submitted, requesting that priests be sent to complete the work which God had begun. Sending them on their way amidst rejoicing and ceremony, the Emperor was far more glad at this news than if he had annexed to the Roman Empire peoples and realms unknown. 
In 334 A.D, Mirian commissioned the building of the first Christian church in Iberia which was finally completed in 379 A.D. on the spot where now stands the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mstkheta.

Nino, having witnessed the conversion of Iberia to Christianity, withdrew to the mountain pass in Bodbe, Kakheti. St Nino died soon after; immediately after her death, King Mirian commenced with the building of monastery in Bodbe where her tomb can still be seen in the churchyard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nino
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/15 23:10:42 (permalink)
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EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES
London Women's Study Group.

Archives: MaryMartha, Volume 2, Number 3, December 1992.
 
This group of Orthodox women meets once a month to explore the position of women, as fellow members with men, in the Church. At meetings, after exchanging news, we begin with a short prayer. Then we share what we have gleaned from researching into a topic which we hope will illuminate our concerns in the light of Tradition and with a view to the present and the future

It is often pointed out, when the position of women in the Orthodox Church is discussed, that Christ did not call any women to follow Him as His disciples, nor did He appoint any to be apostles. Women have, however, been given the title Isapostole, Equal to the Apostles. They have, interestingly, been honoured in this way almost as often as men: five women to six men, according to the Calendar of the Fellowship of St John the Baptist. A women's study group in London decided to find out about this title, the women who have been declared Equal to the Apostles, their qualities and achievements. We hope they will have something to teach us about what women have been, and can still be, in the life of the Church.

There is no precise definition of the title Isapostolos; in Orthodoxy; the list of those recognised as Equal to the Apostles differs slightly from one part of the Orthodox world to another. Our first assumption was that the title implied that the saint had been responsible for the evangelisation of particular people, as were Saints Cyril and Methodios and Saint Clement of Ochrid among the Slavs and Macedonians. In some cases the person honoured is a ruler, whose decisions to recognise or to adopt Christianity made the conversion of his subject more swift and comparatively free of conflict: the Emperor Constantine and Prince Vladimir are the prime examples. There remains one male saint about whom we have little information: Saint Albericus ,c.167, bishop and wonderworker of Hieropolis, as the Oxford Dictionary of Saints describes him.

Are certain women also responsible for mass conversions? If so, how did they accomplish this under the restrictive conditions of their time? The first in time, and the most universally honoured of the Isapostolai, is St Mary of Magdala. If an apostle is, according to the English translation of the Greek word, 'one who is sent out', then Mary can certainly be called Equal to the Apostles, because she was sent by Jesus Himself to His disciples to announce the Good News of His resurrection.

Mary of Magdala is included in all the Gospel lists of Jesus's women followers. She remained close to Him when He was on the cross; on the morning of the third day she went, alone or with other Myrrhbearers, to the tomb. In John 20:1-2, as soon as she discovered the empty tomb, she reported the fact to the two disciples closest to Jesus, Peter and John. They ran to the sepulchre (John 20: 3- 10) and John " saw and believed. For as yet they knew not the Scripture that he must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again unto their own home", but Mary of Magdala remained standing outside the sepulchre weeping. This time of solitude and preparation will be echoed in the stories of other women Isapostolai.

Can we say that, up to this point, she had been one of Jesus's disciples, but that when He sends her out, saying " Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God' she becomes an apostle and, in fact apostle to the apostles, as she was called in the Middle Ages? "Mary Magdalene cometh and telleth the disciples, I have seen the Lord; and how that he had said these things unto her' (John 20:17).

In Mary of Magdala we see how a woman takes up the ministry of an apostle. She is not mentioned as being in the upper room where the disciples were gathered when the Lord appeared to them and said "Peace be unto you; as the Father hath sent me, so send I you". (John 20:19-21) . Does that mean that, in accordance with the practices of the time, only men were there, or 'just that the women were not mentioned? In Acts 1, the eleven disciples in the upper room 'continued steadfastly in prayer, with the women-' and in Acts 2,1, 'when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place.' Is this 'all' to include the women mentioned in the previous chapter? However we read these verses, Jesus both respected and transcended the practices of any one time and had already given to a woman the opportunity of being His messenger.

Three other women Isapostolai lived in the early years of Christianity, the Martyr Apphia, wife of the Apostle Philemon, St Mariamne and St Thecla. We would like to find out more about Apphia. What did she do to be marked out for honour in this way? She is mentioned by Paul, is 'our dearest sister' in the Epistle to Philemon It is presumed that she was Philemon's wife. Butler's Lives of the Saints (1956 edition) adds that Philemon's house was 'notable for the devotion and piety of those who composed it, and assemblies of the faithful seem to have been kept there. Nothing else is known'. In 'the story accepted in the East' Philemon became a bishop and was captured when, during the persecutions of Nero, a mob broke into his church, the congregation fled and only he and Apphia remained. They were stoned to death. Courage in. the face of violence, the endurance of martyrdom for the faith and support of the apostolate characterise this saint. Interestingly, F G Holweck, domestic prelate to Pope Pius XII, wanted to claim Apphia for his own sex as a doublet of the Apostle Apphias: "Some writers pretend that he was a woman, A Biographical Dictionary of Saints, 1924)

St Mariamne is not found in all the lists of Isapostolai. Like Apphia. she worked with male apostles in the years following the Ascension; Marianne, however, went out on missionary journeys. The Synaxaristis of St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, Vol 1, Athens, reprinted from the Spamos edition, Athens, 1868, p 462) tells us that she accompanied her brother Philip and Bartholomew to Hierapolis in Phrygia, the modern, Pammukale in Turkey, where the remains of Philip's martyrium may be seen. There they were condemned to death by being hanged upside down. At the moment of his death Philip was praying ardently; the earth opened and, swallowed up the Roman proconsul and many of the pagans. The terrified witnesses unbound Mariamne and Bartholomew, begging them to save them, The two saints prayed for Philip's intercession, and all who had been swallowed up, save the proconsul, were returned, alive.

St Bartholomew then set out on his mission to India. Surprisingly Mariamne now went, alone, to proclaim the word of God in Lyclaonia. There she baptised many pagans and died peacefully. This saint fulfilled her mission in the same way as did her brother apostles; how we wish that the bare text of her story had given some detail of how she had gone about it, surmounting or circumventing the limitations on a lone woman's freedom of movement.

There is another version of her story, derived from the Philip, which gives Mariamne the title of 'The Apostolic Virgin'. (Holweck.). Here we are told that Mariamne suffered great anxiety at the prospect of Philip's going alone to evangelise Greece. She had a vision of the Saviour, who said to her: 'You, Mariamne, may conceal your body and all your feminine characteristics and set out on the journey together with Philip. ' She was present at Philip's death; then Bartholomew went to Lycaonia, Mariamne to Jordan. This version still gives Marianne her independant mission, adding a divine command to assume a masculine appearance that may be compared to St Thecla's plea to St Paul (Bibliotheca Sanctorum, vol VIII, Institute John XXTII, The Lateran, 1967.)

St Thecla was another woman who was active in the apostolic age. In the Apochryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla (Ante Nicene Christian Library) she becomes Paul's disciple. The account of her deeds is an ancient one. Peter Brown suggests that there was a first century manuscript of this text, now missing; the one we still have is of the second century.

Thecla was a young woman, betrothed to a fellow dweller in Iconium, the modern Konya, when she overheard from a nearby house a 'discourse of virginity and prayer' given by Paul, Entranced, she stayed immoveable by the window for three days, listening. Her fiance charged Paul before the governor, who imprisoned him, but Thecla bribed her way into the prison and sitting at his feet, she heard the great things of God'. Paul was expelled from the city, but Thecla was condemned to be burnt for refusing marriage. She was saved by a storm of hail and rain. Reunited with Paul, she said 'I shall cut my hair and follow thee wherever thou shalt go'. Paul feared that her beauty might lead to trouble and, indeed, in Antioch the ruler 'embraced her in the street'. Paul's rebuke 'do not force the stranger: do not force the servant of God' saved her for the moment, but brought her to trial again. She was condemned to the arena with the wild beasts, despite the protests of the women - one of many examples of women's solidarity in these stories - but a lioness (is the sex of the beast significant ?) defended her against the other beasts.

Rejoining Paul at Myra, she was told "Go, and teach the word of God". She appears to have spent the next seventy two years as a hermit in a cave in Seleucia. She became renowned as a healer and the jealous physicians sent 'insolent young men' to destroy her. The rocks closed and hid her. Her end was a quiet one, she went to Rome but found that Paul was already dead; there she herself died at the age of ninety. This source adds that another MS concludes: 'Thus, then, suffered the first martyr of God, and apostle, and Virgin Thecla'. The first woman martyr, presumably, since Saint Stephen could not have been forgotten. She was accounted a martyr because of the tortures she had endured and, indeed, overcome but we have no account of how she earned recognition as an apostle, despite Paul's commission. Presumably her healings during her hermit years converted many. Her heroism and ability to follow her conviction in the face of the social pressures of her time can be parallelled in the lives of many women hermits and martyrs: the master-disciple relationship with Paul and his specific command that she teach the word of God are what mark her out as Isapostole.

With St Nino (Nina) the enlightener of Georgia we have the full pattern of one Equal to the Apostles in bringing the Gospel to a whole people. Georgia adopted Christianity in about 330, and D M Lang (Lives and Legends of Georgian Saints, 1956, p13) considers that her story rests on 'a solid foundation of fact', but that later there was 'no limit to fantasy'. The first account is that of Rufinus, where she is an unnamed captive woman; in later versions she becomes the niece of the Patriarch of Jerusalem or a Roman Princess. Her life of 'faith and complete sobriety and virtue' gained her respect among her captors and her cure of a woman's sick child brought her to the attention of the Queen who, herself ill, visited her and was healed. 'She taught the Queen that Christ, Son of God Almighty, was the Deity who had bestowed this cure on her'. It was the Queen who taught her husband that such a woman is not to be rewarded with gold but by 'worshipping that God Christ who cured me according to her praver' (p16) The King resisted this knowledge until, enveloped by a dark cloud when out hunting, he too prayed to the God of the captive woman.

In the words that Rufinus uses to describe the conversion of Georgia, the importance of the society of women is again stressed: the King summoned all the fold... and albeit himself not yet initiated into the sacraments, became the apostle of his own nation. The men believed thanks to the King, the women thanks to the Queen, and with a single mind they set to work to build a church', There follows the legend of the pillar that refused to be raised until Nino spent the night in prayer; in the daylight it was seen to be hovering in the air, one foot above its pedestal. All acknowledged 'proof of the King's faith and the religion of the captive woman and the church was completed within, the day. Then, when Nino had set both the Church as institution and its mother cathedral on a firm foundation, an embassy was sent to Constantinople to ask for priests for the newly Christian nation.

Lang does not date the Georgian Life of Saint Nino, the first in a series marked by the increasing elaboration of miracles. A few of the additions to Rufinus's account are relevant: before the start of the events in the earlier version, Nino had lived as a hermit in. a tent-shaped bramble bush for three years, preaching and converting many who came to see her. This reminds us of Thecla's life. The embassy to Constantinople is sent off immediately on the King's release from the dark cloud "with a letter fron Nino to Queen Helena". : does this version present Nino as showing greater deference to established authority? When Nino prays that the pillar may be raised, two women stay with her all night. The most interesting addition gives a good authority for St Nino's title. Helena wrote her a letter of Praise and encouragement 'in which Nino was addressed as queen, apostle and evangelist' (p32). There follow accounts of Nino's missionary journeys, in. particular to Kakhetia, where the Queen regnant 'was baptised with all her chiefs and handmaidens' (p36).

St Helena, created Augusta by her son Constantine the Great soon after his accession, was born far from court circles,in Drepanum in Bythinia in 255: her father is generally said to have been an innkeeper. She was married, or some said became the official concubine of, an effective militarv commander, Constantius Chlorus, who rose to great power and. was, adopted by the Emperor Maximun as his junior partner, his Caesar, and designated successor. To cement this alliance, he 'had to renounce Helena and marry the stepdaughter of his patron, but her son Constantine remained with his father and eventually not only succeeded him but reunited the Roman Empire under himself. We do not know when Helena became a Christian , nor whether the fact that Constantine Chlorus, alone of the tetrarchy ordered no persecutions of the Christians was any indication of his personal beliefs or due to her influence.

Constantine honoured his mother, soon after he was in a position to do so 'her likeness was imprinted on golden coins' says Eusebius; unfortunately, only bronze ones have so far been found. (Life of Constantine in Nicene And Post Nicene Fathers 1890, reprinted 1989, Ch XLVII.) Eusebius says that this is evidence of 'the surpassing degree of filial affection' the son had for his mother. She lived mostly in Rome, founding a church in her palace. Modern authors claim that she either led her son towards the Faith, or that he led her ( e g The New Catholic Encyclopedia,1967. The Oxford Illustrated History of Christians. 1990). She is next heard of at the great crisis of her family's life, Constantine's brilliant son Crispus, child of his. first wife, was falsely denounced at the instigation of his stepmother Fausta and executed on his father's orders. Helena had not been in Rome at the time, she hastened back and in mourning garments went to her son and disabused him Fausta was soon after "stifled" in her bath.

Timothy Barnes thinks it was partly to restore the family image, though surely also in atonement, that Constantine sent Helena in 326, at the age of almost eighty years to the Holy Land with instructions to show the Imperial generosity in action (Constantine and Eusebius, 1981) This she did grandly; after she had founded two churches in Jerusalem, Barnes follows Eusebius in describing 'her progress towards towards Syria" As she went, she gave generously to cities, to the soldiers, and to all individuals who approached her, especially to the poor. She released criminals from prison, from the mines, from exile. She dedicated gifts in churches everywhere, even in the smallest cities ' it is perhaps in connection with this voyage that Constantine, as Eusebius says, 'even granted her authority over the imperial treasures, to use dispense them according to her own will and discretion', (Life p.532)

But there is no mention of the finding of the Cross of Christ in Eusebius' chapters on Helena's voyage; he had already placed that in the context of Constantine's building of the Church. of the Holy Sepulchre. Within twenty five years of Helena's voyage, Cyril of Jerusalem, however, links the Invention of the Cross to Helena, and all later writers until the modern period followed him. (Notes to Eusebius's Life, p.444 by E C Richardson)
St Helena died in 330, when with her son in Nicodemia. He brought her body in a great porphyry sarcophagus to Rome for burial with imperial honours and renamed her birthplace Helenopolis. Like Nino, pious legends gathered around her name. In 1879 Heydenreich published an anonymous medieval romance about the noble girl from Revres who was glimpsed crossing a bridge by the general, but already Geoffrey of Monsmouth had placed her ir Britain, the daughter of 'Old' King Cole, and Hakluyt included a much heightened account of her travels in his Voyages. Evelyn Waugh's Helena is the latest of these variation on the Helena story.

She does not need elaboration. In an age of ruthless dynastic rivalries, she survived reversals of fortune, family horrors and political chicanery to an active, indeed a splendid old age in which she had access to power and used it for good. It seems probable that, like St Olga, she was also a precursor of the conversion of the empire. In later ages, the Empress Pulcheria and Queen Bertha of Kent, were both honoured by being likened to her ( W C Frend, The Rise of Christianity, 1984 pp.771 & 889)

St Olga was born in Pskov; the date of her birth is unknown. She married Prince Igor and, following his slaughter by Prince Mal of the Derevelians in 945, ruled in Russia as regent in the name of Sviatoslav, her son. Vivid accounts have been handed down of her attempts to avenge the death of her husband. One story tells of the Prince of the Derevelians asking for her hand in marriage. She feigns acceptance, asking for his ambassadors to be carried into her presence in their boat. This boat is then dropped into a trench that had been specially dug around the courtyard and the Prince's ambassadors are buried alive. Acts of cruelty such as this remind us of her grandson Vladimir's words about himself before his baptism :'I was like a beast, much evil did I do as a Pagan, and I lived as a brute but Thou hast tamed me and taught me by thy grace'.

Olga's conversion to Christianity brings radical change. Historical accounts of her baptism differ, some suggesting that it took place during her journey to Constantinople, others leading us to believe that it happened before this, possibly in Kiev. Certainly we know that she took the name Helena, in honour of Constantine the Great's mother.

The Chronicler Nestor gives us details in the Russian Primary Chronicle (translated from the Imperial Edition, St Petersberg, 1842 by Fr Louis Paris) of how the newly baptised Olga was told by the Patriarch in Constantinople that she was blessed among Russian women because she had sought the Light and had left behind the path of darkness. With her head lowered, she was instructed by him in Christian doctrine and ecclesiastical disciplines, was taught about what is meant by prayer and fasting and was informed about bodily chastity. Thus protected from the snares of the enemy through the prayers of the Patriarch, she received his blessing and was sent back to her own country.

At this point, one small detail suggests that Olga did not allow herself to be slighted by men. Upon her return to Kiev, Constantine's envoys came to her, asking for presents for their Emperor of slaves and wax, furs and soldiers. In reply, Olga said that she would gladly grant his request if he came to her door in person and waited there as long as she had waited at his! The Greeks assumed that any prince or princess who accepted their- faith became a vassal of the Emperor but Olga, whilst sharing their faith, intended to remain Regent in her own right.

Back in her own country, with great courage Olga stood alone in a pagan world which mocked and misunderstood her. She devoted herself to prayer, praying night and day for the conversion of her family and her country. She longed to share the joy of her faith with others but we are told that her son, Sviatoslav, did not wish to know the majesty of the God in whom she rejoiced. He was afraid of being scorned by his people for adopting a strange religion and, besides, soldiers fought with a sword and not a cross! In spite of her disappointment, Olga respected her son's choice to live as a pagan, and the chronicler Nestor tells us that she did not love her son less for this. She persuaded him to stay with her until her death, although he would have preferred to journey abroad.

Following her death, Olga was given a Christian burial, as she had requested, and Nestor hands down the small detail that at her funeral her son and grandson and all the Russian people wept with great mourning. Her grandson, Vladimir, carried within him the seeds of his grandmother's faith and example and, watered by the tears of his grief, when the time was ripe, as we know, these seeds grew. Indeed, just before his baptism, Vladimir's ambassadors exclaimed to him, 'If the Greek religion had been so bad Olga, the wisest of beings, would not have adopted it'.

Finally, no better tribute is paid to Olga than in the following extract from the Primary Chronicle: Olga was the precurser of the Christian land, even as the dayspring precedes the sun and as the dawn precedes the day. For she shone like the moon by night, and she was radiant among the infidels like a pearl in the mire, since the people were soiled and not yet purified of their sins by holy baptism. But she herself was cleansed by this sacred purification. She put off the sinful garments of the old Adam, and was clad in the new Adam which is Christ. Thus we say to her, 'rejoice in the Russian's knowledge of God', for we were the first fruits of their reconciliation with Him (Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles and Tales ed.S. A Zenkovsky, New York, 1963,p6l).

What do the accounts of the apostolates of these women have in common? Since the names of those who have been thus honoured vary in different parts of the Orthodox world and the concept of Equal to the Apostles has not been strictly defined, we can only come to tentative conclusions. The question now arises as to whether the nature of the male apostolate is different from the female one and, if we accept that it is not, whether a women has to practice it in a different manner. Keeping in mind that 'in Christ there is neither male nor female". what exactly does that mean in relation to ministry?

Mary of Magdala, Thecla and Nina all spend a period of preparation, whether of hours, days or years, in which they withdraw from the everyday life of their societies. These three were specifically 'sent out'; St Mary to the disciples, St Thecla to the world at large, St Nina to the people of Georgia, as St Mariamne was to Greece and Lycaonia.
The apostolate of these women was, of necessity, exercised in a different way from that of St Paul and the other male apostles, since women could not travel freely from place to place, preaching in the synagogues and fora. They worked by attraction and example, located at a court or in a cave. Often, they received help from other women. Mariamne and Thecla may have avoided danger while travelling by dressing as males.

Nevertheless, the Isapostolia were not prevented from acting in the wider world when this was necessary: St Mariamne's story shows her operating with, and in exactly the same way as, her companions St Philip and St Bartholomew; St Nine moves from the retirement of her cell to the centre of events at court; St Helena not only acted through her son but became his public agent; St Olga destroyed pagan shrines and worked for the conversion of her people while still retaining her role as regent.

Saints deemed to be Equal to the Apostles arose in the earliest years of the spread of Christianity and again when a new people was ready for evangelisation: whenever they were most needed. We in the West live in a post Christian society where, as Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh pointed out in a talk 'On the Church", given in the Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens on 13 February 1992, we Orthodox can be seen as an enclave within society, an irrelevance; tolerated, but not listened to, people 'content with being among themselves'. But the apostles 'were men and women sent into the world ' who, when their lives had been changed 'could not keep the wonderful discovery to themselves'. The delight and generous energy of those days shines through the stories told of the Isapostolai.

Could there be greater equality or greater honour for both men and women than to be deemed Equal to the Apostles, to outshine the titles of the church hierarchy? Should this not set us thinking about equality and ministry in the widest sense? We live, now, in what might become a new apostolic age, and we are all called to be apostles, men and women alike.
 
http://members.iinet.net.au/~mmjournl/MaryMartha/THEOLOGICAL%20REFLECTIONS%20/Equal%20to%20the%20Apostles.html
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Equal-to-the-apostles (Greek: Iσαπόστολος, isapostolos, Serbian: равноапостолни, ravnoapostolni) is a special title given to some canonised Saints in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is also used by Eastern Rite Catholic Churches that are in communion with Rome. The title is bestowed as a recognition of these saints' outstanding service in the spreading and assertion of Christianity, comparable to that of the original apostles.

Below is a partial list of saints who are called equal-to-the-apostles:

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Evangelist to Georgia,
Saint Nino
Equal to the Apostles
The Enlightener of Georgia


The virgin Nino of Cappadocia was a relative of Great-martyr George and the only daughter of a widely respected and honorable couple. Her father was a Roman army chief by the name of Zabulon, and her mother, Sosana, was the sister of Patriarch Juvenal of Jerusalem. When Nino reached the age of twelve, her parents sold all their possessions and moved to Jerusalem. Soon after, Nino’s father was tonsured a monk. He bid farewell to his family and went to labor in the wilderness of the Jordan.

After Sosana had been separated from her husband, Patriarch Juvenal ordained her a deaconess. She left her daughter Nino in the care of an old woman, Sara Niaphor, who raised her in the Christian Faith and related to her the stories of Christ’s life and His suffering on earth.

It was from Sara that Nino learned how Christ’s Robe had arrived in Georgia, a country of pagans.

Soon Nino began to pray fervently to the Theotokos, asking for her blessing to travel to Georgia and be made worthy to venerate the Sacred Robe that she had woven for her beloved Son. The Most Holy Virgin heard her prayers and appeared to Nino in a dream, saying, “Go to the country that was assigned to me by lot and preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will send down His grace upon you and I will be your protector.”

But the blessed Nino was overwhelmed at the thought of such a great responsibility and answered, “Howcan I, a fragile woman, perform such a momentous task, and how can I believe that this vision is real?”

In response, the Most Holy Theotokos presented her with a cross of grapevines* and proclaimed, “Receive this cross as a shield against visible and invisible enemies!”

When she awoke, Nino was holding the cross in her hands. She dampened it with tears of rejoicing and tied it securely with strands of her own hair.

Nino related the vision to her uncle, Patriarch Juvenal, and revealed to him her desire to preach the Gospel in Georgia. Juvenal led her in front of the Royal Doors, laid his hands on her, and prayed, “O Lord, God of Eternity, I beseech Thee on behalf of my orphaned niece: Grant that, according to Thy will, she may go to preach and proclaim Thy Holy Resurrection. O Christ God, be Thou to her a guide, a refuge, and a spiritual father. And as Thou didst enlighten the Apostles and all those who feared Thy name, do Thou also enlighten her with the wisdom to proclaim Thy glad tidings.”

When Nino arrived in Rome, she met and baptized the princess Rhipsimia and her nurse, Gaiana. At that time the Roman emperor was Diocletian, a ruler infamous for persecuting Christians. Diocletian (284–305) fell in love with Rhipsimia and resolved to marry her, but St. Nino, Rhipsimia, Gaiana, and fifty other virgins escaped to Armenia.

The furious Diocletian ordered his soldiers to follow them and sent a messenger to Tiridates, the Armenian king (286–344), to put him on guard.
King Tiridates located the women and, following Diocletian’s example, was charmed by Rhipsimia’s beauty and resolved to marry her.

But St. Rhipsimia would not consent to wed him, and in his rage the king had her tortured to death with Gaiana and the fifty other virgins.

St. Nino, however, was being prepared for a different, greater task, and she succeeded in escaping King Tiridates’ persecutions by hiding among some rose bushes.

When she finally arrived in Georgia, St. Nino was greeted by a group of Mtskhetan shepherds near Lake Paravani, and she received a blessing from God to preach to the pagans of this region.

With the help of her acquaintances St. Nino soon reached the city ofUrbnisi. She remained there a month, then traveled to Mtskheta with a group of Georgians who were making a pilgrimage to venerate the pagan idol Armazi. There she watched with great sadness as the Georgian people trembled before the idols. She was exceedingly sorrowful and prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, send down Thy mercy upon this nation …that all nations may glorify Thee alone, the One True God, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ.”
Suddenly a violent wind began to blow and hail fell from the sky, shattering the pagan statues. The terrified worshipers fled, scattering across the city.

St. Nino made her home beneath a bramble bush in the garden of the king, with the family of the royal gardener. The gardener and his wife were childless, but through St. Nino’s prayers God granted them a child. The couple rejoiced exceedingly, declared Christ to be the True God, and became disciples of St. Nino. Wherever St. Nino went, those who heard her preach converted to the Christian Faith in great numbers.

St. Nino even healed the terminally ill Queen Nana after she declared Christ to be the True God.

King Mirian, a pagan, was not at all pleased with the great impression St. Nino’s preaching had made on the Georgian nation. One day while he was out hunting, he resolved to kill all those who followed Christ. According to his wicked scheme, even his wife, Queen Nana, would face death for failing to renounce the Christian Faith.

But in the midst of the hunt, it suddenly became very dark. All alone, King Mirian became greatly afraid and prayed in vain for the help of the pagan gods. When his prayers went unanswered, he finally lost hope and, miraculously, he turned to Christ: “God of Nino, illumine this night for me and guide my footsteps, and I will declare Thy Holy Name. I will erect a cross and venerate it and I will construct for Thee a temple. I vow to be obedient to Nino and to the Faith of the Roman people!”

Suddenly the night was transfigured, the sun shone radiantly, and KingMirian gave great thanks to the Creator. When he returned to the city, he immediately informed St. Nino of his decision.

As a result of the unceasing labors of Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino, Georgia was established as a nation solidly rooted in the Christian Faith.

St. Nino reposed in the village of Bodbe in eastern Georgia and, according to her will, she was buried in the place where she took her last breath. King Mirian later erected a church in honor of St. George over her grave.

Like a good shepherd, thou didst baptize the lost sheep and lead the Georgian people to the One True God. O Holy Saint Nino, intercede with Christ our God on behalf of thy children!





*According to another source, the Theotokos bound the grapevine cross with strands of her own hair.

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Lives of Saints: St. Nino and the Role of Women in the Evangelization of the Georgians
by Paul Crego

This article was published in the St. Nina Quarterly, Volume 3, No. 1.



O handmaid of the Word of God, who in preaching equaled the first-called Apostle Andrew, and imitated the other Apostles, enlightener of Iberia and reed pipe of the Holy Spirit, holy Nina, equal to the Apostles, pray to Christ God to save our souls. - Troparion

The story of St. Nino [the Georgian form of Nina], Equal to the Apostles and Illuminator of the Georgians, has had an interesting history. St. Nino appears (although unnamed) in Greek and Latin ecclesiastical histories, beginning with Rufinus and later in Armenian and Georgian sources. The Armenian and Georgian sources are not easily dated, and theories about the dating are often much colored by nationalist perspectives.

The most elaborate telling of St. Nino's story is in Georgian and was fully developed by the tenth century. Some of the emphasis of her story is in reaction to the schism of the Georgian Church from the Armenians at the Third Council of Dwin in the early seventh century. Before that time, the Georgians and Armenians had been united in their rejection of the Council of Chalcedon. After this council the Georgians tended to promote a separate origin for their Christianity, one that largely bypassed the Armenians.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Nino cycle is that women play an especially important role throughout it. Nino is tutored by an Armenian woman named Sara the Hermit; she baptizes a group of women in Armenia who are about to be martyred (including the well-known Hripsime); she gathers a number of women disciples in Mcxeta (the former capital of Georgia); she baptizes the royal family (even after Greek priests were to have been sent by Helena and Constantine); and some parts of the story itself are attributed to women authors.

Unfortunately, the retelling of the Nino story, in Georgian as well as in Russian and English translations, often leaves out the parts in which Nino baptizes. It is perhaps too difficult for later translators and paraphrasers to deal with such "anomalous" activity on the part of a woman. It is my theory that this part of the story must be quite old, since it is unlikely that Georgian clerics in the eighth to tenth centuries would have constructed such an active role for a woman missionary.

The text of the Nino story is self-conscious about her role and the fact that she is a woman. On her journey to Mcxeta she received a scroll from an angel in a vision, and on this scroll were ten lines, mainly from the New Testament. The second line is from Galatians 3:28: "There is neither male nor female, but you all are one." The ninth is from John 20:17: "Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, "Go, woman and tell my brothers." The seventh is the most curious: "The Lord loved Mary very much, because she listened to His true wisdom." With the exception of the tenth citation based on the Great Commission, this seventh line is the only one that does not appear to be a direct quote from the New Testament and is reminiscent of passages in some apocryphal writings, like the Gospel of Philip.

When Nino was ready to leave her tutor, Sara, in Jerusalem, Sara gave her the following "pep-talk": "I see your strength, my child, as the strength of the lioness, who roars louder than any other four-footed creature, or as the strength of the female eagle, who, rising to the heights of the atmosphere above the male, and perceiving the entire Earth before her as a small pearl, focuses on and sees her prey, cuts back her wings and swoops down upon it - so I see your life as led by the Holy Spirit." This extraordinary speech is also usually omitted in retellings and translations and has generally escaped the notice of commentators. This speech is in bold contrast to much early hagiography in which women must "become men" in order to attain spiritual virtue. In this passage, a certain superiority for women, based on nature, was assumed.

St. Nino's story merits more attention than it has been given by Church historians. The role of women must be considered for what it may say specifically about the early Georgian Church and more generally, about attitudes concerning the role of women in the Church in the fourth through eighth centuries.

Sources.
1. Basic text (in Georgian) of the Nino cycle, eds. B. Gigineishvili and El. Giunashvili: The Shatberdi Collection of the Tenth Century, (Tbilisi: Mecniereba, 1979).
2. Most complete English translation: Margery Wardrop, trans. "The Life of St. Nino," in Studia Biblica et Ecclesiastica, vol. 5: 1-88 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903).
3. Abridged English version: The Life of St. Nina Equal to the Apostles and Englightener of Georgia (Jordanville, N.Y.: Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery, 1977).
4. K. Kekelidze, Die Bekehrung Georgiens zum Christentum (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrich, 1928).
5. Recently completed Ph.D. diss. at the University of Michigan: Stephen H. Rapp, Jr. Imagining History at the Crossroads: Persia, Byzantium, and the Architects of the Written Georgian Past.

Paul Crego received his M.A. in the Soviet Union Program (Harvard), his M.Div. at Harvard Divinity School, and his Ph.D. at Boston College (BC). He began his study of Georgian in 1977 and studied in Tbilisi in summer 1990 at the First Summer School in Kartvelian Studies. He taught History of the Orthodox Churches at BC in 1990, 1991. Mr. Crego has worked as a cataloguer of Georgian and Armenian at Harvard's Widener Library and now works as a cataloguer of Armenian at the Library of Congress.

http://www.stnina.org/stnina/life/crego
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/15 23:16:53 (permalink)
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St. Nina - Icon Imagery



Icons of St. Nina are written with her holding her grapevine cross and scroll. According to the Life of St. Nina, she had two visions in which she was called to evangelize the people of Georgia. In the first she received instructions from the Theotokos to preach and was presented with a vine-covered cross as a pledge of her special protection. In the second vision she received a scroll on which were written the quotations below. St. Nina is called Equal-to-the-Apostles because she preached the gospel in Georgia. Her title, her cross, and her scroll are the manifestations of her working with God to spread His word and to bring into His fold a new land.


The St. Nina Quarterly takes its name from St. Nina, who is our patron and namesake because of the example she has given us. She lived a life of quiet piety but did not hesitate to preach and teach as needed.

  • Wherever this gospel shall be preached, there this woman will be spoken of.” Matt. 26:13.
  • There is no male or female, but you are all one.” Gal. 3:28.
  • Go and teach all the nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matt. 28:19.
  • The light will shine over the nations to glorify Your people Israel.” Luke 2:32.
  • Wherever this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached, there too this will be spoken of in the whole world.” Matt. 26:13.
  • Whoever shall hear you and receive you, has received me; and whoever shall receive me, will receive the one who sent me.” Matt. 10:40; John 13:20.
  • For the Lord greatly loved Mary, because she continuously heard His true word.” Cf. John 11.
  • Do not fear those who destroy your bodies but are not able to destroy your soul.” Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:4.
  • Jesus said to Mary Magdalene: "Go, woman, and announce to my sisters and brothers.” Matt. 28:10; Mark 16:9-10; Luke 24:10; John 20:17.
  • Wherever you preach, let it be in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Cf. Matt. 28:19.

Quotes from the Georgian Chronicles
Translation by Paul Crego
http://www.stnina.org/stnina/icons/meaning
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/15 23:17:43 (permalink)
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/15 23:20:31 (permalink)
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Lives of Saints
The Life of St. Nina

by Karen Keck
 
 
Icon of St. Nina

This article was published in the St. Nina Quarterly, Volume 1, No. 1.

Born in Cappadocia in the late third century, St. Nina (or Nino, the Georgian form) was the only daughter of a Roman general, Zabulon, and his wife, Susanna. On her father's side, she was related to St. George, and on her mother's, to the Patriarch of Jerusalem. When Nina was twelve, her family traveled to Jerusalem, where with the Patriarch's blessing, her father became a monk; her mother became a church worker; and Nina became the foster child of Nianfora, a pious elderly woman. Under the tutelage of her foster mother, Nina quickly learned the rules of faith and piety.

Rejoice, co-worker of the Holy Apostles Paul and Andrew.
- From the Vespers of January 14 (Repose of St. Nina), Sticheron, Tone 2

At fourteen, Nina questioned her mentor about the location of Christ's robe; Nina felt that such an important relic could not have been lost.

Nianfora told her that it was in Iberia (now Georgia), a land not yet completely illumined. When the apostles had drawn lots to determine who was to preach where, the Theotokos had received the lot for Iberia, but she had been held back from going and was assured that someone would later enlighten it. In a dream, the Theotokos came to Nina and urged her to preach the gospel in Georgia. The Mother of God assured Nina that she would protect her and as a pledge, left a cross of grape vines.

The patriarch, her uncle, was delighted with the news of her vision. He eagerly gave her his blessing:

When the time arrived for her departure, the patriarch led Nina into the church and up to the holy altar, and placing his hands on her head, he prayed the following words:

Lord God, Our Saviour! As I let this young girl depart to preach Thy Divinity, I commit her into Thy hands. Condescend, O Christ God, to be her Companion and Teacher everywhere that she proclaims Thy Good Tidings, and give her words with such force and wisdom that no one will be able to oppose or refute them. And Thou, most Holy Virgin Mother of God, Helper and Intercessor for all Christians, clothe with Thy strength against all enemies, visible and invisible, this girl whom Thou Thyself hast chosen to preach the Gospel of Thy Son and our God among the pagan nations. Be always for her a shield and an invincible protection, and do not deprive her of Thy favour until she has fulfilled Thy holy will.910

Nina joined the party of Princess Ripsimia, which was traveling to Georgia to escape the persecution of Diocletian. All but Nina, who was sheltered in a crevice, were martyred in Armenia after Ripsimia declined to marry the king, Tiridat.

Living as pilgrim, by the grace of God and on the bounty of strangers, Nina once became weary. She wondered briefly where she was going, what she was doing. She fell, exhausted, asleep and had a vision of a majestic man who handed her a scroll in Greek, which she read upon waking:
  • Verily, I say unto you, Wherever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman has done, be told as a memorial of her. [Matt. 26:13]
  • There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Gal. 3:28]
  • Then said Jesus unto them (the women), be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. [Matt. 28:10]
  • He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives Him that sent me. [Matt. 10:40]
  • For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. [Luke 21:15]
  • And when they bring you into the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. [Luke 12:11-12]
  • And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. [Matt. 10:28]
  • Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. [Matt. 28:19-20]

Strengthened and reassured, Nina continued until she arrived in Georgia, where she witnessed the worship of the local gods. Praying that the idols might be destroyed, she also witnessed a downpour that washed the idols into the river and out of sight.

Nina settled in Mtskheta, the capital, where she lived in a hut near the royal gardener and his wife, Anastasia. There Nina gained a reputation for holiness both because of her daily piety and her miraculous healings. She cured Queen Nana of a disease no doctor had been able to relieve. King Mirian was converted when he was saved from a rain storm similar to the one that had destroyed his idols.

In a dream,
the Theotokos
came to Nina
and urged her
to preach the Gospel
in Georgia.  

After preaching to and converting many Jews and pagans, Nina learned the story of Christ's robe: a local Jew, Elioz, had obtained the robe from the soldier to whose lot it had fallen and had carried it home to Georgia.

His sister, Sidonia, had clasped the robe to her breast and had died. No one could take the robe from her, and it had been buried with her. A cedar, now part of the royal garden, was said to have grown from her grave. Nina had doubts about the identification of the particular tree, but she knew from her visions that the ground was holy.

Nina died in the early fourth century, after she had seen Christianity spread throughout Georgia and had, through her preaching, converted a neighboring queen, Sophia of Kakhetian and her kingdom. Nina was buried, near the place where she had died, in Bodbi. The church built by her grave was dedicated to St. George and became the Bodbi metropolitanate. Her cross was sent to the cathedral in Mtskheta. During wars between the Byzantine and Persian empires, the cross was taken to Armenia and eventually to Moscow. Tsar Alexander I returned it to Georgia at the beginning of the 19th century.

Icons of St. Nina are written with her holding her grapevine cross, the pledge of her relationship with the Theotokos. St. Nina is called Equal-to-the-Apostles because she preached the gospel in Georgia. Since the 17th century, iconographic tradition has revealed the scroll which she received in her second vision. Her title, her cross, and her scroll are the manifestations of her working with God to spread His word and to bring into His fold a new land.

Note.

1. Anonymous, The Life of St. Nina Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia with the Service, (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1988) pp. 6-7.

http://www.stnina.org/stnina/life/keck
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/16 00:30:21 (permalink)
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December 16 is the feast day of St. Adelaide

Patron: abuse victims; brides; empresses; exiles; in-law problems; parenthood; parents of large families; princesses; prisoners; second marriages; step-parents; widows
 
Saint Adelaide of Italy, also called Adelaide of Burgundy (931/932 – December 16, 999) was perhaps the most prominent European woman of the 10th century.



She was the daughter of Rudolf II of Burgundy and Bertha of Swabia. Her first marriage, at the age of fifteen, was to the son of her father's rival in Italy, Lothair II, the nominal King of Italy; the union was part of a political settlement designed to conclude a peace between her father and Hugh of Provence, the father of Lothair. They had a daughter, Emma of Italy.

The Calendar of Saints states that her first husband was poisoned by the holder of real power, his successor, Berengar of Ivrea, who attempted to cement his political power by forcing her to marry his son, Adalbert; when she refused and fled, she was tracked down and imprisoned for four months at Como. She escaped to the protection, at Canossa, of Adalbert Atto, where she was besieged by Berengar. She managed to send an emissary to throw herself on the mercy of Otto the Great of Germany. His brothers were equally willing to save the heiress of Italy, but Otto got an army into the field: they subsequently met at the old Lombard capital of Pavia and were married in 951; he was crowned Emperor in Rome, February 2, 962 by Pope John XII, and, most unusually, she was crowned Empress at the same ceremony. Among their children, four lived to maturity: Henry, born in 952; Bruno, born 953; Matilda, Abbess of Quedlinburg, born about 954; and Otto II, later Holy Roman Emperor, born 955.

In Germany, the crushing of a revolt in 953 by Liudolf, Otto's son by his first marriage, cemented the position of Adelaide, who retained all her dower lands. She accompanied Otto in 966 on his third expedition to Italy, where she remained with him for six years.

When her husband Otto I died in 973 he was succeeded by their son Otto II, and Adelaide for some years exercised a powerful influence at court. Later, however, her daughter-in-law, the Byzantine princess Theophano, turned her husband Otto II against his mother, and she was driven from court in 978; she lived partly in Italy, and partly with her brother Conrad, king of Burgundy, by whose mediation she was ultimately reconciled to her son; in 983 Otto appointed her his viceroy in Italy. However, Otto died the same year, and although both mother and grandmother were appointed as co-regents for the child-king, Otto III, Theophano forced Adelaide to abdicate and exiled her. When Theophano died in 991, Adelaide was restored to the regency of her grandson. She was assisted by Willigis, bishop of Mainz. In 995 Otto III came of age, and Adelaide was free to devote herself exclusively to works of charity, notably the foundation or restoration of religious houses.

Adelaide had long entertained close relations with Cluny, then the center of the movement for ecclesiastical reform, and in particular with its abbots Majolus and Odilo. She retired to a monastery she had founded in c. 991 at Selz in Alsace. Though she never became a nun, she spent the rest of her days there in prayer. On her way to Burgundy to support her nephew Rudolf III against a rebellion, she died at Selz Abbey on December 16, 999, days short of the millennium she thought would bring the Second Coming of Christ. She had constantly devoted herself to the service of the church and peace, and to the empire as guardian of both; she also interested herself in the conversion of the Slavs. She was thus a principal agent—almost an embodiment—of the work of the Catholic Church during the Early Middle Ages in the construction of the religion-culture of western Europe. Her feast day, December 16, is still kept in many German dioceses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_of_Italy
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/18 08:23:49 (permalink)
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Dear friends,

You may have noticed a new Forum on the Circles home page.  Its purpose is to share news and information about (http://www.catherineofsiena.net/default.asp) -- an exciting project developed by friends of www.womenpriests.org.  Because of the nature of the College and its aims, we want to help publicise its features.  Please: Spread the word! and consider enrolling in one of the courses. 

Catherine of Siena Virtual College specialises in Gender Studies. The aim of the College is to help people see clearly the origin of social, religious and cultural prejudices that have stifled the voices of women and subverted their dreams. One of its stated goals is to empower women around the world to assume positions of leadership in religion and society.

The College was founded in 2005 by a group of academics who were concerned about the plight of women in the world.  By January 2008, the College was open to students with its first run of courses.

A thread dedicated to information about the College is located here: Catherine of Siena Virtual College.  Check here for information about current course offerings and news about its work.

If you have questions, let me know.  I can help direct you to the resource people for specific information.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/20 15:42:09 (permalink)
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Saint Olympias, ordained woman deacon
Feastday:  December 17
(July 25 in eastern rite and Orthodox Church)

 
Saint Olympias

Olympias was a friend of St John Chrysostom. He ordained her a deacon and placed her 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."
post edited by Sophie - 2008/12/20 15:52:34
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/20 15:45:20 (permalink)
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Life of Saint Olympias the Deaconess
from "The Prologue from Ohrid"
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovitch
© San Martin Fine Art, USA - Lazarica Press, UK

Olympias was born in Constantinople of very eminent parents. Her father, Anysius Secundus, was a senator and her mother was the daughter of the famous aristocrat Eulavius, who is mentioned in the life of St Nicolas the Wonderworker. When Olympias was fully grown, she was betrothed to a nobleman who died before his marriage to this honoured maiden. The Emperor and others exhorted her to take another husband, but in vain; she refused them all and devoted herself to a life pleasing to God, giving of her inherited wealth great gifts to the Church and alms to the poor.

She served in the Church as a deaconess, first in the time of Patriarch Nectarius and, after his death, under St John Chrysostom. When Chrysostom went into exile, he advised Olympias to remain in the Church as before and serve it, whichever Patriarch should succeed him. But, immediately after the exile of this great hierarch, someone set fire to a large church, and the conflagration took hold of many of the public buildings in the capital. Chrysostom's enemies accused this holy woman of being a malicious fire-raiser.

Olympias was exiled from Constantinople to Nicomedia, where she entered into rest in 408, leaving instructions that her body be placed in a coffin and cast into the sea, and that she be buried wherever the waves threw the coffin up. The coffin was cast up at a place called Vrochthoi, where there was a church dedicated to the Apostle Thomas. Great miracles of healing have been performed through the centuries by her relics.

The exiled Chrysostom wrote beautiful letters to the exiled Olympias, which to this day serve to give support to all who suffer for God's justice. Among other things, Chrysostom wrote to Olympias: 'Now I am deeply joyful, not only because you have been delivered from sickness, but even more because you are bearing adversities with such fortitude, calling them trifles - a characteristic of a soul filled with power and abounding in the rich fruits of courage. You are not only enduring misfortune with fortitude, but are making light of it in a seemingly effortless way, rejoicing and triumphing over it - this is a proof of the greatest wisdom'(Letter 6 of the seventeen that have come down to us)
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008 2008/12/20 15:46:53 (permalink)
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Olympias was born in Constantinople of very distinguished parents. Her father, Anysius Secundus, was a senator and her mother was the daughter of the famous nobleman Eulavius who is mentioned in the hagiography of St. Nicholas the Wonder-worker. When Olympias reached maturity, she was betrothed to a nobleman who died before the marriage took place. The emperor and the other relatives pressured Olympias to marry another, but in vain. However, she refused them this and devoted herself to a god-pleasing life, giving from her inherited estate great offerings to the churches and alms to the needy. She served as a deaconess in the Church, at first during the time of Patriarch Nectarius and, after his death, during the time of St. John Chrysostom. When Chrysostom was exiled, he counseled  Olympias to remain in the church and to serve as before regardless who the patriarch after him would be.
 
Immediately after the banishment of this great saint, someone started a fire in the Great Church [The Church of the Divine Wisdom Hagia Sophia] and the fire consumed many prominent buildings in the capital. The enemies of Chrysostom accused this holy woman of initiating this malicious fire. Olympias was banished from Constantinople to Nicomedia where she died in the year 410 A.D., requesting in her testament that her body be placed in a box and cast into the sea and wherever the water tosses it up, there she is to be buried. The coffin was cast ashore in the city of Vrochthoi, where there existed a church dedicated to the Apostle Thomas.
 
From her relics, great healing miracles appeared throughout the centuries.
 
The exiled Chrysostom wrote beautiful letters to the exiled Olympias which, even today, serve as a great comfort to all those who suffer for the sake of God's justice. Among other things, Chrysostom writes to Olympias: "Now I am very elated not only because you were relieved from infirmity, but more so, that you are nobly enduring all difficulties referring to them as trivialities which is characteristic of a soul full of power and abounding in the rich fruits of courage. For you not only courageously are enduring misfortune rather you do not even notice it when it comes and without exertion, without labor and disturbance not even talking about it to others but rejoicing and triumphing over it. That serves as the greatest wisdom" (The Prologue from Ohrid, Letter VI).
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