Fascinating: 5th Century Byzantine Basilica honoring Female Ministers found in Israel

Reported at Haaretz.com on Monday:

The Holy Mother Sophronia. Theodosia the deaconess. Gregoria the deaconess. These are some of the women lovingly memorialized at a magnificent Byzantine basilica that Israeli archaeologists have uncovered in the southern city of Ashdod.

The splendidly mosaiced church, built in the fourth or fifth century C.E., is being hailed as one of the earliest and largest Christian basilicas found in Israel. It is also one of the most unusual, partly due to the number and prominence of graves and inscriptions dedicated to female ministers. Then as now, women in the clergy were usually overshadowed by their male counterparts.

Mosaics still covered by the collapsed tiles of the church’s roof

So much church history that is still lost to us… neat to see this glimpse into ancient Christian practice.

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