Women in Early Christianity

Mothers of the Church

  • opens new windowPerpetua and Felicityd. 203 (opens new windowabout)
    • North African mothers
    • thrown to wild animals for being Christians
  • Euphemia, d. 303 (opens new windowabout)
  • opens new windowJuliana, d. 304
  • Macrina the Elder, d. c. 340 (opens new windowabout)
    • grandmother of Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Macrina the Younger, and Peter of Sebaste
    • disciple of Gregory Thaumaturgus
  • Marcella of Rome, c. 325-410 or 411 (opens new windowabout)
    • established religious order in her home on the Aventine hill in Rome
    • received instruction from Jerome and corresponded with him after he left Rome
    • died shortly after being beaten by Visigothic soldiers during the sack of Rome in 410
  • opens new windowMacrina the Younger, c. 327-380
    • elder sister of Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa
    • Gregory called her his teacher
    • emphasized her asceticism and her virginity
    • mother of Eastern monasticism
  • Syncletica, 380-c. 460 (opens new windowabout)
    • desert mother (amma)
    • Vita Sanctae Syncleticae (PG 28: 1488-1557)
    • sayings in A pophthegmata Patrum
    • emphasized patience, gentleness, and moderation
  • Melania the Elder (opens new windowabout), 342-411
    • established monastery on Mount of Olives
  • opens new windowEgeria the Pilgrim, active, 4th-5th c.
    • went on a pilgrimage, 381-384
  • Paula the Elder, of Rome,347–404
    • friend of Jerome
    • established a monastery and convent in Bethlehem in386
    • Jerome extolled her virtues in Ep.108 (MignePL22. 878 ff.).
  • Monica, c. 331-387 (opens new windowabout)
    • mother of Augustine
    • wept and prayed perseveringly for her son's conversion
    • extolled by her son for her holiness and wisdom
  • Mary of Egypt, 344-c. 421 (opens new windowabout)
  • Melania the Younger (opens new windowabout), 383-439
    • granddaughter of the earlier Melania
  • Sarah, anchoress
    • desert mother (amma) in the desert of Scetis near end of the 4th c.
    • sayings in Apophthegmata Patrum
  • Theodora, anchoress
    • desert mother (amma)
    • sayings in Apophthegmata Patrum
  • Ita, 475-570 or 577
    • born in Ireland
    • established convent of Killeedy (Limerick County)
    • known for healings and the gifts of spiritual discernment and prophecy
    • opens new windowVita sanctae Ite


Melania the Elder

Melania the Elder

Desert Mothers

Online Indices to Women's Literature