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Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009

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2009/01/03 05:13:01 (permalink)

Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009

Dear friends,

A new year begins! I give thanks for our sister Constance who some time ago planted the seed which inspired the creation of space for tribute to the Holy Women who have gone before us.  In this thread, we learn about the courage of women who despite oppression emerged to provide great leadership. We remember:
  • Ordained Women Deacons
  • Women Martyrs
  • Women Doctors -- there are only three in the Church!
  • Women Leaders 
  • Saints for our Time

In our own work, we do well to remember that we stand on their shoulders.  We pray for the courage to do our own part -- we are made for these times. As we stand on the shoulders of women of faith who challenged injustice while they walked before us, someday there will be others who will stand on our's as they pick up the torch to carry on.

Each one of the women we learn about provides inspiration for our efforts to continue with the birthing of Christ into the world ...including our Church.. still in the grips of cultural tentacles that blind some people to the sacramental giftedness of women... 

Doctor of the Church Saint Teresa of Avila inspires and reminds us: Christ has no hands but ours...

With love and blessings,

~Sophie~

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    Sophie
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:14:50 (permalink)
     
    http://www.pennyslinger.com/images/PS_Web_Res_Jpegs/70_c.jpg

    Mary, wellspring of peace...Be our guide.
    Model of strength...Be our guide.
    Model of gentleness...Be our guide.
    Model of trust...Be our guide.
    Model of courage...Be our guide.
    Model of patience...Be our guide.
    Model of risk...Be our guide.
    Model of openness...Be our guide.
    Model of perseverence...Be our guide.
    Sophie
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:16:00 (permalink)
    Dear God, creator of women in your image,
    born of a woman in the midst of a world half women,
    carried by women to mission fields around the globe,
    made known by women to all the children of the earth,
    give to the women of our time
    the strength to persevere,
    the courage to speak out,
    the faith to believe in you beyond
    all systems and institutions
    so that your face on earth may be seen in all its beauty,
    so that men and women may become whole,
    so that the church may be converted to your will
    in everything and in all ways.

    We call on the holy women
    who went before us,
    channels of Your Word
    in testaments old and new,
    to intercede for us
    so that we might be given the grace
    to become what they have been
    for the honour and glory of God.


    • Pray for us.

    Saint Esther, who pleaded against power 
    for the liberation of the people,
    Saint Judith, who routed the plans of men
    and saved community,
    Saint Deborah, laywoman and judge, who led
    the people of God,
    Saint Elizabeth of Judea, who recognised
    the value of another woman,
    Saint Mary Magdalene, minister of Jesus,
    first evangelist of Christ,
    Saint Scholastica, who taught her brother
    Benedict to honour spirit above the system,
    Saint Hildegard, who suffered interdict
    for the doing of right,
    Saint Joan of Arc, who put no law above
    the law of God,
    Saint Clare of Assisi, who confronted the Pope
    with the image of women as equal,
    Saint Julien of Norwich, who proclaimed for
    all of us the motherhood of God,
    Saint Therese of Lisieux, who knew the call
    to priesthood in herself,
    Saint Catherine of Siena, to whom the Pope
    listened,
    Saint Teresa of Avila, who brought women's gifts
    to reform the Church,
    Saint Edith Stein, who brought fearlessness
    to faith,
    Saint Elizabeth Seton, who broke down the
    boundaries between lay women and
    religious by wedding motherhood and
    religious life,
    Dorothy Day, who led the church to a new
    sense of justice,
    Mary, mother of Jesus,
        who heard the call of God and answered,
    Mary, mother of Jesus,
        who drew strength from the woman Elizabeth,
    Mary, mother of Jesus,
        who underwent hardship bearing Christ,
    Mary, mother of Jesus,
        who ministered at Cana,
    Mary, mother of Jesus,
        who inspirited at Pentecost,
    Mary, mother of Jesus,
        who turned the Spirit of God
    into the body and blood of Jesus, pray for us.
     
    Amen. 

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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:17:15 (permalink)
     

    The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
     
    The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God commemorates the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the God-Bearer, Mother of our Lord and God Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on January 1st, one week after Christmas.

    In the 4th and 5th centuries debates about the nature of Christ raged in the Church. At issue was the relationship of Christ's divine and human natures. At the center of the debate was a title of Mary. Since at least the 3rd century, Christians referred to her as Theotokos, meaning "God-bearer." The first documented use of this term appears in the writings of Origen of Alexandria in AD 230. Related to theotokos, in popular Christian piety of the time, Mary was called the mother of God. Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople from 428-431 objected to this.  He argued that Mary was only the mother of Jesus' human nature and not his divine nature. His ideas (or at least how others perceived his arguments) were condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and again at the Council of Chacedon in 451. The Church decided that Christ was fully God and fully human, and these natures were united in one person, Jesus Christ. Thus Mary could be called "mother of God" since she gave birth to Jesus who was fully divine as well as human. Since then, Mary is honoured as the "mother of God" by Catholics, Orthodox, and many Protestants.

    When we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, we honour Mary, chosen among all people throughout history to bear God incarnate, and we honour Jesus Christ, the incarnation -- fully God and fully human. As Christmas honours Christ as the "Prince of Peace," the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God honours Mary as the "Queen of Peace." The solemnity is also designated as the World Day of Peace.

    http://www.churchyear.net/motherofgod.html
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:17:59 (permalink)
     


    Though the origins of a feast celebrating Mary's divine maternity are obscure, there is evidence of ancient feasts commemorating Mary's role as theotokos.

    In the Eastern Church, historical records show that in and around 500 AD, the Church celebrated a "Day of the Theotokos" either before or after Christmas. The celebration eventually evolved into a Marian feast on December 26th in the Byzantine calendar and January 16th in the Coptic calendar.

    In the Western Church, Christmas has generally been celebrated with an octave -- an eight day extension of the feast. The Gregorian and Roman calendars of the 7th century mark the Christmas octave day with a strong Marian emphasis. Eventually, the eighth day of the octave of Christmas was celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus.

    The push for an official feast day celebrating Mary's divine maternity started in Portugal.  In 1751,  Pope Benedict XIV allowed the Portuguese Church to celebrate Mary's divine maternity on the first Sunday in May. The feast was eventually extended to other countries, and by 1914 was celebrated on October 11. The feast of Mary's divine maternity became a universal feast in 1931.

    After Vatican II, Pope Paul VI decided to change the feast of Jesus' Circumcision to the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God so as to reclaim the ancient Western Marian emphasis at the end of the Octave of Christmas. Celebrating Mary's divine maternity during the Christmas octave makes sense in that the celebration is connected closely to Christ's birth. Pope Paul VI explained his reasoning for the change as follows:


    In the revised arrangement of the Christmas season, we should all turn with one mind to the restored solemnity of the Mother of God. This feast was entered into the calendar in the liturgy of the city of Rome for the first day of January. The purpose of the celebration is to honour the role of Mary in the mystery of salvation and at the same time to sing the praises of the unique dignity thus coming to "the Holy Mother...through whom we have been given the gift of the Author of life." This same solemnity also offers an excellent opportunity to renew the adoration rightfully to be shown to the newborn Prince of Peace, as we once again hear the good tidings of great joy and pray to God, through the intercession of the Queen of Peace, for the priceless gift of peace. Because of these considerations and the fact that the octave of Christmas coincides with a day of hope, New Year's Day, we have assigned to it the observance of the World Day of Peace (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, Feb. 2, 1974, no.5).
    In this way, Pope Paul VI highlighted the feast's celebration of both Mary and Jesus. He also noted the connection to New Year's Day and Mary's role as Queen of Peace. January 1st, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God is also the observed "World Day of Peace."

    There are many Marian feasts in the Church Calendar. These include The Assumption of Mary, The Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Consolation, among many others. However, Mary Mother of God focuses on Mary's divine maternity.

    http://www.churchyear.net/motherofgod.html
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:35:03 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    For centuries, teachings about our Christ's first and best disciple, Mary, out of reach.  Through the help of modern day theologians, many of them women, we are regaining connection with her as a human being, our sister in faith. Although throughout much of history, Mary's 'fiat' was often interpreted as a timid and passive reaction to an amazing invitation from God, this tells us more about the interpreters who were usually male! Far from being a timidly submissive woman or one whose piety was repellent to others, Mary was a woman who did not hesitate to proclaim that God vindicates the humble and the oppressed, and removes the powerful people of this world from their privileged positions (Lk 1:51-53).
     
    In her article, In Search of the Real Mary, Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ helps us understand Mary in both historical context and in solidarity with the multitudes of women through the centuries, especially the poor whose lives have frequently been considered not worth recording. Dr. Johnson looks at:
    • Recognizing Mary in the Gospels
    • Mary as Jewish
    • Mary, a Peasant Woman
    • Mary, a Woman of Faith
    • Mary of the Magnificat
    • Mary, Our Partner in Hope
    • Five features of good Marian theology

    A copy of the article follows here.

    The real Mary is a woman who challenges monarchical and imperialist interpretations of  Jesus.  She is a peasant woman invited by God to participate in an adventure we now understand as the person who brought Christ in bodily form into our world.

    In this, she is our first priest!

    With love and blessings,

    ~Sophie~
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:40:37 (permalink)
    In Search of the Real Mary
    Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J.

    Every century and culture has interpreted Mary in different ways. You could almost drown in the various ways that the Christian tradition has honored Mary! Consider the paintings, sculptures, icons, music, liturgies, feasts, spiritual writings, theologies, official doctrines. George Tavard wrote a book recently, and his title gets it exactly right: The Thousand Faces of the Virgin Mary. It seems that the image of Mary has allowed the Christian imagination to think very creatively and very differently about understanding Mary. But now it's our turn, we the generation alive today. How should we consider Mary (or Miriam, as she would be known in Hebrew) in the 21st century?
     


    Recognizing Mary of the Gospels: We know very little about Miriam of Nazareth as an actual historical person. In this she is in solidarity with the multitudes of women through the centuries, especially poor women and poor men, whose lives are considered not worth recording. We must also be respectful of her historical difference from us in time and place. She is a first-century Jewish woman; she is not a 21st-century American. And that difference must be respected.

    The four Gospels portray her in very different ways, reflecting their very different theologies. At first glance, Mark comes across as having a negative view of Jesus' mother. She arrives with other members of the family as Jesus is preaching and they call to him. When the crowd tells Jesus his mother is asking for him, he replies, "Who is my mother and brother and sister? Those who do the will of my father are mother and brother and sister to me" (see Mark 3:31-35). And Mary remains outside. Mark does not seem to have a positive view, at that point, of Mary as a disciple.

    Matthew's view of Mary is rather neutral by comparison. He places her in the genealogy of the Messiah, in line with four other women who act outside the patriarchal marriage structure, thereby becoming unexpectedly God's partners in a promise-and-fulfillment schema. In Matthew's Gospel, though, Mary doesn't speak, and all the focus on the birth story is around Joseph.  Luke describes Mary as a woman of faith, overshadowed by the Spirit at Jesus' conception and at the beginning of the Church at Pentecost. She is the first to respond to the glad tidings to hear the word of God and keep it. This is a pictorial example of Luke's theology of discipleship. It's a very positive view of Mary from which we have mostly gotten our tradition.  Finally, John has a highly stylized portrayal of the mother of Jesus, and that's all he ever calls her. He never names her. She is pierced twice in John's Gospel, at the beginning and at the end, at Cana and at the cross. And again she is there embodying responsive discipleship to the word made flesh.

    As with the Gospel portraits of Jesus, these diverse interpretations cannot always be harmonized. But each is instructive in its own way.  To glimpse the actual woman behind these texts is difficult. Now we get help from new studies of the political, economic, social and cultural fabric of first-century Palestine. New studies are enabling us to fill in her life in broad strokes.  Much of this knowledge of the circumstances in which she lived has resulted from the contemporary quest for the historical Jesus. But it serves us as well for a quest for the historical Mary. So let's go questing for Miriam of Nazareth—as a Jewish village woman of faith.

    Mary as Jewish: As a member of the people of Israel, Mary inherited the Jewish faith in one living God, stemming from Abraham and Sarah onwards. She prays to a God who hears the cry of the poor, frees the enslaved Hebrews and brings them into their covenant relationship. Given Jesus' clear knowledge and practice of the Jewish faith in his adult life, as reflected in the Gospels, it is reasonable to assume that Mary, with her husband, Joseph, practiced this Jewish religion in their home, following Torah, observing Sabbath and the festivals, reciting prayers, lighting candles and going to synagogue, according to the custom in Galilee. Later at the end of Jesus' life, Luke depicts Mary in her older years as a member of the early Jerusalem community, praying with 100 other women and men in the upper room before the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. What we see from this—and most scholars think that that's a historical glimpse—is that Mary participated in the early Christian community in Jerusalem. Now in the light of the death and resurrection of Jesus, this gathering of disciples believed that the Messiah had come. But in no way did they think that this was a cause to leave their religion; they kept going to the Temple, and so forth.

    For many years, they preached the good news to their fellow Jews trying to get them to understand the promise of God has been fulfilled, before finally being persuaded by Paul and others that the gospel was meant for gentiles too. To use a term coined in scholarship, Mary was a Jewish Christian—the earliest kind of Christian there was. This was before Christianity split off from the synagogue. She was never a Roman Christian, never a gentile at all. So it does no honor to her memory to bleach her of her Jewishness. We've done this ethnically by turning her swarthy Jewish complexion into fair skin and blonde hair and blue eyes. But we've also done this religiously by turning her deeply rooted Jewish piety into that of a latter-day Catholic. She wasn't.

    Mary, a Peasant Woman: Mary lived in a Mediterranean rural village, Nazareth, whose population consisted largely of peasants working the land and craftsmen who served their basic needs. Married to the local carpenter, she took care of the household. Now how many children were in that household? Well, her firstborn son, Jesus, obviously lived there, but we also read in Mark's Gospel that the mother and the brothers and the sisters lived together in Nazareth. And these brothers are named in Chapter Six: James, Joses, Judas and Simon. His sisters Mark leaves unnamed, as typically happened with groups of women in the New Testament.

    The apocryphal gospels explain that these are Joseph's children by previous marriage. But however many were in the household, we would know that in her setting, her days would ordinarily be taken up with the hard, unrecompensed work of women of all ages: to feed and clothe and nurture her growing household. Like other village women of her day, she was probably unlettered, illiterate.  The economic status of this family is a matter of some dispute. Scholars like John Meier place them in a blue-collar working-class arrangement, while others such as John Dominic Crossan assign them to the peasant class, desperately struggling under the triple taxation of Temple, Herod and Rome.  Either way the times were tough. This village was part of an occupied state under the heel of imperial Rome. Revolution was in the air. The atmosphere was tense. Violence and poverty prevailed. We owe a debt to Third-World women theologians who have noticed the similarities between Mary's life and the lives of so many poor women, even today. Notice how the journey to Bethlehem in order to be counted for a census accords with the displacement of so many poor people today separated from their ancestral homes because of debt and taxation. Notice how the flight into Egypt parallels the flight of refugees in our day—women and men running with their children to escape being killed by unjust military force. Notice how Mary's experience of losing her son to death by unjust state execution compares with so many women who have had their children and grandchildren disappear or be murdered by dictatorial regimes. Mary is a sister, a compañera, to the suffering lives of marginalized women in oppressive situations. It does Mary no honor to rip her out of her conflictual, dangerous historical circumstances and transform her into an icon of a peaceful middle-class life dressed in a royal blue robe.

    Woman of Faith: Mary walked by faith, not by sight. As one theologian once said, "She did not have the dogma of the Immaculate Conception framed and hanging on her kitchen wall." Scripture tells us she asked questions. She pondered things in her heart. And she went on faithfully believing even when grief stabbed her to the heart.  She had a relationship with God that was profound. Now in those days, people's hope for the coming of the Messiah included the hope that he would liberate the suffering poor from oppressive rule. Luke's infancy narrative gives a particular twist to our memory of Mary's faith by placing her in a key position of partnership with God to bring about this historic occurrence. The Annunciation scene, as biblically analyzed today, depicts her being called to the vocation of being God's partner in the work of redemption on the model of the call to Moses at the burning bush. It's a prophetic call, a call of vocation to be a partner with God in this great work. Mary gives her free assent, thus launching her life on an adventure whose outcome she does not know. She walks by faith, not by sight. Indeed her very pregnancy takes place through the power of the Spirit.

    Mary's virginity has been used to disparage women who are sexually active, as if they aren't as perfect as Mary the virgin. But again this event actually sounds a powerful theme for women. Sojourner Truth, the 19th-century freed slave, was speaking once in a hall where a group of black-clad clerics were arguing that she should not even have the right to be on the stage. She noticed their mumbling and said to them, "Where your Christ come from, honey? Where your Christ come from? He come from God and a woman. Man had nothin' to do with it."  Business as usual, including patriarchal marriages, is superseded. And God stands with the young woman pregnant outside of wedlock, in danger of her own life. God stands with her to begin fulfilling the divine promise. Now Mary's faith-filled partnership with God in the work of liberation is sung out in Luke's Gospel in her magnificent prayer, the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55). It's the longest set of words placed on the lips of any woman in the New Testament.

    Oddly enough, it is a prayer omitted from most traditional Mariology. Here's the scene: Mary is newly pregnant; Elizabeth her cousin, an older woman, is six months pregnant; Zechariah, Elizabeth's husband, has been struck dumb for his lack of faith; and so there's no male voice to inject itself into this scene. The house is quiet of men. Mary arrives. Elizabeth, filled with the Spirit, embraces her and sings out, "Blessed art thou among women." And also filled with the Spirit, Mary breaks into a new prophetic language of faith. She sings a song in the pattern of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah and Hannah, other great hymn-singers in the Old Testament, and she launches into divine praise. Her spirit greatly rejoices in God her savior.

    Mary of the Magnificat: Though Mary is poor and lowly, and a culturally insignificant woman, the powerful living holy God is doing great things to her. And God does this not only to her but to all the poor: bringing down the mighty from their thrones; exalting the lowly; filling the hungry with good things and sending the unrepentant rich away empty. And all of this is happening in fulfillment of the ancient promise—and in her very being. For she embodies the nobodies of this world, on whom God is lavishing rescue.  In this song she sings of the future too, when finally, peaceful justice will take root in the land among all people. This is a great prayer; it is a revolutionary song of salvation. As writer Bill Cleary once commented, "It reveals that Mary was not only full of grace but full of political opinions."

    Miriam's song has political implications—socially radical ones at that. With a mother like this, it's no wonder that Jesus' first words in Luke proclaim that he has come to free the captives and bring good news to the poor. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree! So Mary lived in solidarity with the project of the coming Reign of God, whose intent was to heal, redeem and liberate. It does no honor to reduce her faith to a privatized piety. Worse yet, which sometimes happens in traditional Mariology, is to reduce her faith to a doting mother-son relationship. She hears the word of God and keeps it. What I'm suggesting is that before Jesus was born she had her own relationship to God that wasn't focused on Jesus. Even after his death and resurrection, when she is now part of the community proclaiming him as the Messiah, her pattern of faith is still that of Jewish hope: God's Messiah who now has come will come again soon and bring this justice to the land as a whole.  She hears the word of God and keeps it. And in this too she is, as Paul VI called her in Marialis Cultus, our sister in faith. We can begin to see the potential in other Gospel scenes. As we remember her and keep foremost the idea that she is a Jewish peasant woman of faith, then we can interpret the other scenes in the Gospels where Mary shows up and where we are presented with the dangerous memory of this very inconsequential woman in her own culture and historical context. With a heart full of love for God and for her neighbor, Mary of Nazareth gives us this tremendous example of walking by faith through a difficult life.

    Our partner in hope: We began by asking, what would be a theologically sound, spiritually empowering and ethically challenging view of Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, for the 21st century? My answer has been to suggest that we remember Mary as a friend of God and prophet in the communion of saints. Let her dangerous memory inspire and encourage our own witness. We ought to relate to Miriam of Nazareth as a partner in hope, in the company of all the holy women and men who have gone before us. This can help us reclaim the power of her memory for the flourishing of women, for the poor and all suffering people. It can help us to draw on the energy of her example for a deeper relationship with the living God and stronger care for the world.  When the Christian community does Marian theology this way, our eyes are opened to sacred visions for a different future. We become empowered to be voices of hope in this difficult world. Like Mary, we will be rejoicing in God our savior and announcing the justice that is to come.

    Five Features of Good Marian Theology: In 1975 Pope Paul VI wrote an apostolic exhortation on Mary, Marialis Cultus (To Honor Mary). He began that letter by saying that he observed that, for many modern people, devotion to Mary was not only problematic, it was on the wane. He suggested that one of the main reasons for this lay in the fact that our approach to Mary reflected outdated ideas of the Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation period of the Church, views of Mary that are unappealing to contemporary people. He named, for example, the way that some theology presented Mary as timidly submissive and said that this is repellent to the piety of modern women. Then he said the Church is not bound to these older images of Mary, some of which are showing the ravages of time—this is his language. He ended up by calling on the whole Christian people and their pastors to be creative in doing for our age what our ancestors in the faith did for their age, namely develop an appealing view of Mary suitable for our own culture. To do this he suggested that such a theology would have five characteristics. It would be:

    • Biblical: Marian theology should be rooted in the testimony of Scripture.
    • Liturgical: It would be in tune with the great liturgical seasons. He named especially Advent, where Mary joins the Church in expecting the birth of the Messiah, and then Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit of the Church.
    • Ecumenical: It would be in harmony with the agreements we have reached with fellow Christian Churches. Rather than being a dividing point between Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism, it would be a unifying point.
    • Anthropological: By this term, Paul VI meant that it would be aware of the changing role of women in society. As women take leadership in various aspects of society, we cannot expect women or men to appreciate a Mary who is presented as a passive and subservient woman.
    • Theological: This means it would have God at the center—with Mary placed in relation to Christ and to the Church.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    *Elizabeth Johnson, a sister of St. Joseph, is professor of theology at Fordham University; an international lecturer and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. Her Ph.D. is from Catholic University of America. The article was adopted from a talk given at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in 2000; the full talk is available as an audiocassette, A Theology of Mary for the Third Millennium (A8161), from St. Anthony Messenger Press.

    http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0501.asp
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:46:48 (permalink)


    Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J.

    Ph.D., Catholic University of America
    M.A., Manhattan
    B.A., Brentwood

     
    Research interests: Systematic theology, feminist theology


    In addition to her books, she has published over one hundred essays in scholarly journals, chapters in edited books, encyclopedia entries, book reviews, and articles in popular religious journals. Her work has been translated into Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Lithuanian, Polish, Korean, and Greek.

    Author, editor, teacher, and public lecturer in theology, Elizabeth Johnson’s main areas of research focus on the theology of God, Jesus Christ, Mary and the communion of saints, science and religion, the problem of suffering, ecological ethics, and issues related to justice for women. A former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the oldest and largest association of theologians in the world, she is currently (2006) president-elect of the American Theological Society. She is also an active member of the American Academy of Religion and the College Theology Society, and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Theological Studies, Horizons: Journal of the College Theology Society, and Theoforum. She loves to teach and is most fond of receiving Fordham University’s Teaching Award (1998).

    Deeply involved in the life of the church, she is a religious sister in the Congregation of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY. Her public service in the church includes being a theologian on the national Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue; a consultant to the Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Women in Church and Society; a theologian on the Vatican-sponsored dialogue between science and religion, and on the Vatican-sponsored study of Christ and the world religions; and a core committee member of the Common Ground Initiative started by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to reconcile polarized groups in the church.

    View Personal Page

    Distinguished Professor of Theology

    Some recent publications:
     

    Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints. (New York and London: Continuum Pub. International, 2003
    Italian: Vera Nostra Sorella: Una teologia di Maria nella comunione deo santi. Brescia: Editrice Queriana, 2005.
    Portuguese: Nossa verdadeira irmã: Teologis de Maria na comunhão dos santos.São Paulo, Brazil: Edições Loyola, 2006.


    Dangerous Memories: A Mosaic of Mary in Scripture (New York: Continuum Pub. International, 2004

    She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (NY: Crossroad, 1992). With a New Introduction to the 10th Anniversary Edition, 2002.

    Friends of God and Prophets: A Feminist Theological Reading of the Communion of Saints (New York: Continuum / London: SCM Press / Ottawa: Novalis Press. 1998).

    "Frontiers of the Quest for the Living God,"Sewanee Theological Review 48:3 (Pentecost 2005): 273-286.


    "Losing and Finding Creation in Christian Tradition," in Christianity and Ecology, ed. D. Hessel and R. R. Ruether (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 3-21).

    "The Living God in Women’s Voices,"Sewanee Theological Review 48:3 (Pentecost 2005): 287-300.

    "The Living God in Cosmic Perspective,"Sewanee Theological Review 48:3 (Pentecost 2005): 301-315.


    The Church Women Want: Catholic Women in Dialogue (NY: Crossroad, 2002).
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:51:14 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    There's something about Mary!  I personally find my prayer of the rosary to be nourishing and calming.  A prayer of the people?  Perhaps because I so much appreciate Mary's presence in my life -- she is a role model as Christ's first disciple -the following from Rosemary Houghton's article, A Subversive Devotion is something I found to be particularly meaningful.  Mary, an obscure but feisty young woman from Nazareth, continues to have a powerful hold on our Catholic imagination.  Please enjoy!

    With love and blessings,

    ~Sophie~

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


    http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/074Y63JfXT7eI/610x.jpg
    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    A Subversive devotion

    There is something subversive about Marian devotion. It sidesteps the structures of patriarchal power, secular and religious, and it has caused church officials unease through the centuries. Document after document has warned the faithful not to go overboard in devotion to Mary. She is Mother of God, but a creature, not divine, we are warned, and should not be offered “divine honours.” “Excessive” devotion to Mary is “immature,” the spiritual guides admonish, and this is the worst accusation! We are letting our hearts rule our heads, it tells us, being overemotional—feminine? It means we aren’t making clear distinctions, not keeping our theological categories precise and our devotions clearly labelled.

    Recent psychology has noted, however, that the modern concept of “maturity,” developed overwhelmingly by male psychologists, is based on male-derived values of independence, separation, and control. There are other ways of recognising maturity, when it is judged rather by values of interdependence, inclusiveness, and relationship. It is important to ponder this if we are to understand the fullness of the treasure that Mary is for us, without having to look over our shoulders or make excuses for the power she is in the life of so many Christians and in the history of the church.

    For Mary is that original subversive influence, a woman at the heart of the gospel overturning of the essential categories of human power. Long ago the emperor decreed a census, that ultimate expression of power and control. Count them—and to do this, gather them in convenient places (convenient for the census takers, not the human beings who are to be counted like so many coins). So one pregnant woman had her baby in a makeshift shelter, far from home. She was a number—or not even a number, being a female. A nonperson. But she and her son quietly and peacefully made nonsense of all that counting.

    http://www.catholicireland.net/pages/index.php?nd=273&art=245
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:55:40 (permalink)
    Dear friends,

    Mary, a Catholic woman priest? As the icon above illustrates, throughout the centuries the faithful have intuitively understood that Mary, a woman, shares in Jesus’ priesthood more than any other person. Historical records document a devotion to her as priest on the part of many saints, popes, bishops, theologians and spiritual authors. Implicit in that devotion is a strong but usually unspoken conviction that though a woman, Mary could easily have been ordained a priest among men. In fact, documentary evidence shows that a certain times in history, this conviction was explicitly expressed in the Church.

    Our website founder who now serves as our Academic Advisor, Dr. John Wijngaards shares that throughout the centuries Catholics have known in their heart of hearts and to the marrow of their bones that women are equal before God and that there is no fundamental justification to exclude them from ordination. Examining our history as Christ’s believing community, we discover just beneath the surface of cultural opposition to women priests a constant awareness running counter to the officially sanctioned social and cultural ideas. One way this conviction of the faithful or sensus fidelium -- sense of the faithful -- expresses itself is in the age old acceptance of Mary as the most eminent of priests.

    In his article The priesthood of Mary, Dr. Wijngaards takes us on a guided tour through historye. Along the way, he explains in overview the latent Tradition of Mary as priest. He shares that:


    In our attic of forgotten treasures lies also the ancient conviction that Mary, priest without stain, supports priests in their ministry. Priests used to recommend themselves to her care, and to formulate, before each Mass, the intention of offering the Eucharist through Mary’s immaculate and priestly hands. St. Ignatius of Loyola had a vision in which he saw the Blessed Virgin assisting him especially at the moment of consecration. Priests hailed Mary as their ‘model’, ‘the first priest after Christ’. Have we become too macho to acknowledge a woman as our ‘model priest’? Tradition’s comment is, perhaps, best expressed in a fifteenth-century French painting that shows Mary standing at the altar and wearing priestly vestments, about to distribute Holy Communion. The Pope kneels before her. Should we see any significance in a frowning angel painted next to the Holy Father, who holds his precious tiara?

    The link to the article is here: The priesthood of Mary. Please enjoy! If you have any questions, let me know!

    with love and blessings,

     
    ~Sophie~
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:56:16 (permalink)
     
    Mary's priesthood wasn't something that developed
    through time...she was the very first priest and there

    right at the beginning of Christ's coming into the world
    as a human being.  She truly, truly mediated Christ
    presence for us. - womenpriests.org Member Therese


    How does Tradition show that Mary was priest? Where is the evidence of centuries long devotion to her as a priest? The following document includes a provisional list drawing together the names of saints, bishops, theologians and spiritual authors who have written about Mary’s priesthood. These writings are documented to a limited extent on our web site. Though the list is not intended to reflect the devotion to Mary as Priest in a complete or exhaustive fashion, it provides an idea as to the continuity and expansiveness of this devotion throughout the ages. The increase in testimonies in later centuries does not come so much from growth in the devotion as it does from the fact that testimonies from earlier times are more difficult to obtain.

    Take special note of the sample quotes of the way Mary is described throughout the ages. For example, some of these are drawn from the list:



    Pope Pius X (papacy 1903-1914)attached an indulgence to the invocation of Mary as Virgin Priest. Then quite suddenly, during the papacy of Pope Benedict XIV, the Holy Office forbade images of Mary as priest. This was further compounded during the papacy of Pope Pius XI (papacy 1922 - 1939), when the Holy Office explicitly forbade any devotion to Mary Virgin Priest.

    See the entire list of our research as it stands so far. The link to it is here: http://www.womenpriests.org/mrpriest/mpr_list.asp
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 05:57:05 (permalink)

    -The Nativity by He Qi, China
    -- Theologian Dr. Tina Beattie: "Maternity, a form of priesthood"

    Dear friends,

    While I take advantage of an opportunity for segue from our Holy Father for discussion about Mary, Virgin priest, I admit that I do love this subject very much! British theologian Dr. Tina Beattie shares a keen interest in Mary.  Beattie's article Mary, the Virgin Priest provides an excellent analysis of the tradition of the Virgin Mother's priesthood.  Beattie examines:


    • Mary's priesthood: The Theology
    • Unexamined instinct
    • Maternity: A Form of Priesthood
    • A Defiling Potency
    • Breaching Taboos
    • Symbolic Reconciliation

    Beattie's succinctly observes:


    Many see the Catholic Church’s refusal to consider the question of women’s ordination as an almost insurmountable problem. I see it rather as an opportunity and an incentive to develop a coherent theology of women’s priesthood that would not simply absorb women into male hierarchies. The Church’s own symbolism leads along the path of a maternal priesthood. What is it that some men are really afraid of when they contemplate women priests? They have yet to come up with a convincing argument that justifies their fear.
    The link to the article is here: http://www.womenpriests.org/mrpriest/beattie.asp.  If you have any questions, as always, please ask!

    with love and blessings,

    ~Sophie~

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

     
    Dr. Tina Beattie

    Tina Beattie's main areas of teaching and research are in theologies and theories of gender, symbolism and ethics, and in religion and human rights. Her doctoral research was on the theology and symbolism of the Virgin Mary, drawing on the psycholinguistic theory of Luce Irigaray as a resource for the analysis of Christian writings on Mary and Eve in the early Church and in recent Roman Catholic theology. Her thesis formed the basis of her book, God's Mother, Eve's Advocate: A Marian Narrative of Women's Salvation (2002). Her latest book is New Catholic Feminism: Theology And Theory  (Routledge 2006). She is currently beginning new research on the representation of women and religion in human rights discourse.

    A copy of her recent cv is found here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/fb.asp?m=10104
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:02:45 (permalink)
     

     
    Dear friends,
     
    I invite you to learn more about the tradition of Mary as priest. Extensive information is found here:

    We also have a dialogue thread dedicated simply to Mary.  It is found here:
    Any questions, please let me know.

    with love and blessings,

    ~Sophie~
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:05:28 (permalink)
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Mary, a priest... implications for the ordination of women?
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:07:59 (permalink)
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Saint Connat
    - also known as Saint Comnatan
    Feastday January 1

    Died c. 590. Abbess of Saint Brigid's convent in Kildare (Benedictines).

     
     
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:11:58 (permalink)
    Zdislava Berka, OP, Matron
    also known as Zedislava Zemberka

    Feastday January 1

    Born in Bohemia (Czech Republic), 1210; died there on January 1, 1252; cultus approved by Pope Pius X in 1907; canonized by Pope John Paul II in Olomouc, Czech Republic, in 1995.

    Born of a warrior race to noble parents, Zedislava lived in a fortified castle on the borders of Christendom, in an age when the fierce Mongol hordes were the world's worst menace. Her whole life was spent within the sound of clashing arms, and the moans of the dying. The gentleness and purity of her life stand out in surprising beauty against the dark background of a warlike and materialistic people.
     

    Zdislava Berka
    http://www.umlaufoviny.com/

    Zedislava learned Christian charity early in life from her mother, who taught her not only the secrets of preparing medicinal herbs but also the healing balm of prayer. Going each day to the castle gate with alms and medicines for the poor and the wretched who crowded there for help, she was soon well acquainted with human misery. Cheerful, prayerful, and alert to see the sorrows of others, the child became a light of hope to the miserable. Because of her sweetness and natural charm, she was able to teach many lessons to those about her.

    As a child, she is said to have fled from her home for a time to live as a hermit, but she returned to live a more normal life that included an early marriage to a soldier, the duke of Lemmberk, who, like her own father, was a rich nobleman in command of a castle on the frontier. The couple produced four children. Zedislava cared judiciously for her own family and lavished great care on the poor, especially the fugitives and victims of the Tartar invasions.

    Her husband was a good man, but a rough and battle-hardened soldier who liked nothing better than the clash of swords. He may have treated Zedislava badly and he certainly tried his young wife's patience and obedience in a thousand ways. He insisted that she dress in her finest gowns and attend the long and barbarous banquets that pleased him so. (In return, she tried his patience because of her generosity towards the poor.)

    Being of a retiring disposition and much given to prayer--and, moreover, having a family and a large castle to care for--she found this a real sacrifice. However, obedience and patience had been an important part of her training, and she taught herself to spiritualize the endless trials that would beset the mother of four children in a medieval fortress.

    The Polish missionaries, Saint Hyacinth and Blessed Ceslaus, brought Zedislava the first knowledge of the new religious order which had begun but a few years before. Saint Dominic, a Spaniard, had met them in Italy, where he had gone to have his order approved. Begun in France, the Dominican Order was already international, and with the profession of Zedislava as the first Slavic Tertiary, its world-wide scope became apparent.

    Enchanted with the possibilities of an order that allowed her to share in its benefits and works while caring for her family, Zedislava threw herself into the new project with enviable zeal. She encouraged her husband to build a hostel for the many poor pilgrims who came homeless to the gate. She visited the prisoners in the frightful dungeons, and used her influence to obtain pardons from the severe sentences meted out to them. She fed and cared for the poor, taught catechism to the children of the servants, and showed all, by the sweetness of her life, just what it meant to be a Christian lady and a Dominican Tertiary. On the occasion of a Mongol (Tartar) attack, when homeless refugees poured into the castle stronghold, her calm, invincible charity was a bulwark of strength to all.

    With her own funds, Zedislava determined to build a church (Priory of Saint Lawrence) where God might be fittingly worshipped. As an act of zeal and penance, she herself carried many of the heavy beams and materials that went into the building. She did this at night so that no one would know of her hard work.

    Zedislava experienced visions and ecstasies during this time. She also received Holy Communion nearly every day in an age when this was not customary.

    Her death came soon after the completion of the church. The mourning people who knelt by her deathbed could see evidence of her strong Christian virtues in the monuments she had left: her children, her church, and the inspiration of a saintly wife and mother. She consoled her husband in life and appeared to him in glory after death, which strongly encouraged his desire for conversion.

    Numerous miracles are ascribed to Saint Zedislava, including the raising of the dead to life, though Pope Pius X did not refer to these in his approval of the cultus given to her in her native country (Benedictines, Dorcy, Farmer).

    In art she is depicted as a Dominican tertiary with a crucifix wound with roses, lying in the place of a sick person in bed (Roeder). Venerated in Bohemia (Roeder).

    http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0101.shtml
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:16:09 (permalink)
    Sain Zdislava Berka
    Feastday: January 1

    Zdislava Berka (1220s-1252) was the wife of Havel of Markvartice, Duke of Lemberk. Known as a particularly austere and generous woman, she was the mother of four children.  Although her husband proved unkind, she was able to devote some of their wealth to the poor and the refugees from the Tartar invasion.


    Saint Zdislava Berka

    Biography
     
    Zdislava was born in Křižanov, in what is now the Žďár nad Sázavou District of the Czech Republic. She was reportedly an unusually devout child, who at age seven ran away into the forest with the intention of living a hermit's life of prayer and solitude. Forcibly returned by her family, she lived a comparatively normal childhood from that point on.

    When she was 15, her family arranged for her to marry the prosperous Havel of Markvartice, Duke of Lemberk. Together they had four children.

    Zdislava continued to live a life of remarkable personal austerity.  She worked tirelessly in the care of the poor and dispossessed, and was, unusually for her era, a frequent recipient of the Eucharist.

    Tatar invasions of Eastern Europe were causing large numbers of people to leave their homes during this period. A large number of them sought refuge at the castle of Gable, where Zdislava lived with her family and assisted these refugees as much as possible.

    Her husband was concerned about what he considered the excessive degree of Zdislava's charity to these refugees. At one point, he is reported to have gone to the bed Zdislava had given to a feverous beggar the night before, but to have found a figure of crucified Jesus there instead. He is said to have been so impressed by this event that he would later allow her to found Dominican convent in Turnov. Zdislava worked with this convent for the rest of her life, and was eventually buried there.

    By the example of her holy death, she is said to brought about the reform of her husband. She was beatified in 1907 and canonised in 1995.

    Her feastday is January 1.
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:17:08 (permalink)
    Zdislava Berka, OP, Matron (RM)
    (also known as Zedislava Zemberka)
    feastday January 1

    Born in Bohemia (Czech Republic), 1210, Zdislava died there on January 1, 1252. Her cultus was approved by Pope Pius X in 1907.  She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Olomouc, Czech Republic in 1995.

    Born of a warrior race to noble parents, Zdislava lived in a fortified castle on the borders of Christendom, in an age when the fierce Mongol hordes were the world's worst menace. Her whole life was spent within the sound of clashing arms, and the moans of the dying. The gentleness and purity of her life stand out in surprising beauty against the dark background of a warlike and materialistic people.

    Zdislava learned Christian charity early in life from her mother, who taught her not only the secrets of preparing medicinal herbs but also the healing balm of prayer. Going each day to the castle gate with alms and medicines for the poor and the wretched who crowded there for help, she was soon well acquainted with human misery. Cheerful, prayerful, and alert to see the sorrows of others, the child became a light of hope to the miserable. Because of her sweetness and natural charm, she was able to teach many lessons to those about her.

    As a child, she is said to have fled from her home for a time to live as a hermit, but she returned to live a more normal life that included an early marriage to a soldier, the duke of Lemmberk, who, like her own father, was a rich nobleman in command of a castle on the frontier. The couple produced four children. Zdislava cared judiciously for her own family and lavished great care on the poor, especially the fugitives and victims of the Tartar invasions.

     
    Saint Zdislava and Saint John Sarkander

    Her husband though a good man was a rough and battle-hardened soldier who liked nothing better than the clash of swords. He may have treated Zdislava badly and he certainly tried his young wife's patience. He insisted that she dress in her finest gowns and attend the long and barbarous banquets that pleased him so. (In return, she tried his patience because of her generosity towards the poor.)

    Being of a retiring disposition and much given to prayer--and, moreover, having a family and a large castle to care for--she found this a real sacrifice. However, obedience and patience had been an important part of her training, and she taught herself to spiritualize the endless trials that would beset the mother of four children in a medieval fortress.

    The Polish missionaries, Saint Hyacinth and Blessed Ceslaus, brought Zedislava the first knowledge of the new religious order which had begun but a few years before. Saint Dominic, a Spaniard, had met them in Italy, where he had gone to have his order approved. Begun in France, the Dominican Order was already international, and with the profession of Zdislava as the first Slavic Tertiary, its world-wide scope became apparent.

    Enchanted with the possibilities of an order that allowed her to share in its benefits and works while caring for her family, Zdislava threw herself into the new project with enviable zeal. She encouraged her husband to build a hostel for the many poor pilgrims who came homeless to the gate. She visited the prisoners in the frightful dungeons, and used her influence to obtain pardons from the severe sentences meted out to them. She fed and cared for the poor, taught catechism to the children of the servants, and showed all, by the sweetness of her life, just what it meant to be a Christian lady and a Dominican Tertiary. On the occasion of a Mongol (Tartar) attack, when homeless refugees poured into the castle stronghold, her calm, invincible charity was a bulwark of strength to all.

    With her own funds, Zdislava determined to build a church (Priory of Saint Lawrence) where God might be fittingly worshipped. As an act of zeal and penance, she herself carried many of the heavy beams and materials that went into the building.

    Zdislava experienced visions and ecstasies during this time. She also received Holy Communion nearly every day in an age when this was not customary.

    Her death came soon after the completion of the church. The mourning people who knelt by her deathbed could see evidence of her strong Christian virtues in the monuments she had left: her children, her church, and the inspiration of a saintly wife and mother. This is said to have strongly encouraged his desire for conversion.

    In art she is depicted as a Dominican tertiary with a crucifix wound with roses, lying in the place of a sick person in bed (Roeder). She is venerated in Bohemia (Roeder).
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:17:41 (permalink)
     




    Saint Fanchea
    Feastday: January 1
    585

    Fanchea was an lrish abbess, a foundress of a convent and a sister of St. Ends, or Endeus. As a nun, she is said to have had special capabilities as a
    directress of souls. She is said to be a native of Clogher, who
    persuaded her brother, Saint Enda, to become a monk who is often regarded as the father of Irish monasticism.

    Also called Garbh Fanchea, she founded Rossary Convent in Fermanagh Ireland. She was born in Clogher and buried at Killane. 
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    RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:19:24 (permalink)
    Euphrosyne of Alexandria VM (RM)
    Died 470

    Feastday January 1

    Although there is question as to whether or not she ever existed, Euphrosyne's story is interesting.  Modern views are that she belongs to that group of legendary virgins who flee advantageous marriages and adopt male attire and pass for men in order to lead lives of celibacy and asceticism.

    Her "life", narrated in the Vitæ Patrum, has some unmistakable hallmarks of the sentimental Hellenistic novel.

    Euphrosyne was the beloved only daughter of a rich man, Paphnutius of Alexandria, Egypt. Miraculously born in her parents' old age in answer to a monk's prayer, her loving father desired to marry her to a wealthy young man.

    But having already consecrated her life to God and under pressure to break this vow, she consulted with the old monk whose prayers had reputedly brought about her birth and he gave her the veil.  Fearful of her father's reaction, she clothed herself as a man, became a monk at the monastery her father frequented and took the name of "Smaragdus."  At the monastery, she made rapid strides toward a perfected ascetic life, under the guidance of the very abbot who had prayed for her birth.

    Euphrosyne became famous for her holiness and spiritual wisdom. When her own father appealed to the abbot for comfort in his bereavement, the abbot committed him to the care of the alleged young man.  Though her father did not recognise her, he father received from her helpful advice and comforting exhortation. Not until she was dying did Euphrosyne reveal herself to him as his lost daughter.

    Her feast is celebrated both in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.  After her death, her father became a monk and lived in her cell for 10 years.

    This story appears to be a replica of similar stories, e.g., Saints Pelegia and Eugenia. It is doubtful whether Saint Euphrosyne ever existed (Benedictines, Delaney). In art, she is depicted as the maiden companion of Saint Ursula. She holds a green branch, wreath, and a book (Roeder).
     
    http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0101.shtml
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