Welcome to Not Just Wives and Mothers; a blog dedicated to highlighting the role women have played in the history of the Church. Anne McKee once wrote that women represent ‘the other voice in history’, whereas the male voice remains the most prominent. Unfortunately, this is also true in the history of the Church. While we have examples of women playing an active role in the life of the early Church, such as Phoebe, Lydia and Priscilla, we often forget the contributions made by women in the following centuries. Even in the case of select women whose names have been passed down to us, they are often overlooked, or worse, reduced to being “just wives and mothers” of important men. But these women deserve to be recognised and have their stories told. They deserve to be remembered alongside their male counterparts as equals – because they were never just wives and mothers.
“On the whole, men seem to hold the view that women have never done anything for humankind but bear children and spin wool.”
CHRISTINE DE PIZAN (1362-1430), THE BOOK OF THE CITY OF LADIES
This first instalment in the ‘A Brief History of Singleness and Single Women’ series, looks at the first three centuries of the Christian Church. What did the cultures around it teach about singleness and marriage? How did the Early Church interpret New Testament teachings on singleness? What did it look like to be a single Christian woman?
Here I introduce a new three part series: A Brief History of Singleness and Single Women in the Western Church. Why is this important for all Christians today, regardless of relationship status?
Douceline of Digne was a 13th century mystic and holy woman who founded three houses for lay-women wanting to live a life of piety, poverty and charity. And she also had no time for unbiblical misogynistic theology!
“There are private martyrs as well as burnt and drowned ones. Society… does not know them; and the family cannot, because our position to one another in our families is… like that of the moon to the earth. The moon revolves around her, moves with her, never leaves her. Yet the earth never sees but one side of her; the other side remains for ever unknown.”
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE (1820-1910), 1847-9 NOTEBOOK.
“Drench your thoughts in the streams of scripture and study the example of the saints, then try to live like them. Do all this modestly and let the blossom flourish in your brothers like leaves and flowers on a tree.
HILDEGARD OF BINGEN (1098-1179), PATROLOGIA LATINA.
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Header image from left to right shows: Pandita Rambai (Bible translator and activist), Julian of Norwhich (Medieval anchorite and author), Susannah Spurgeon (philanthropist and author), Katharina von Bora (Reformer), Fanny Crosby (poet and prolific hymn composer), Anna Zwingli (Reformer), and Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (Revivalist).