Resources for Studying the Mothers of the Church

This is a collection of quotations from and about some of the Mothers of the Church. The lives, sayings, and writings of these extraordinary female saints contain some extraordinary parallels with the lives, sayings, and writings of the Fathers of the Church, and I think they ought to be further studied.

The basis for the selection of these quotations was this: I selected passages that I think capture some of the spirit of early female saints. Wherever I could, I selected from their own recorded writings and sayings. Where I could not find their own words, I selected passages about them by other influential people in Church history. The links at the end of each quote lead to the source of the quote, where you can read more about these women in context.

St. Thecla of Iconium, 30 - 120 A.D.

“I indeed am a servant of the living God; and as to what there is about me, I have believed in the Son of God, in whom He is well pleased; wherefore not one of the beasts has touched me. For He alone is the end of salvation, and the basis of immortal life; for He is a refuge to the tempest-tossed, a solace to the afflicted, a shelter to the despairing; and, once for all, whoever shall not believe in Him, shall not live for ever.” (Acts of Paul and Thecla Chapter 9)

St. Symphorosa, ??? - 138 A.D.

“My husband Getulius, together with his brother Amantius, when they were tribunes in thy service, suffered different punishments for the name of Christ, rather than consent to sacrifice to idols. And, like good athletes, they overcame thy demons in death. For, rather than be prevailed on, they chose to be beheaded, and suffered death: which death, being endured for the name of Christ, gained them temporal ignominy indeed among men of this earth, but everlasting honour and glory among the angels; and moving now among them, and exhibiting trophies of their sufferings, they enjoy eternal life with the King eternal in the heavens.” ... The Emperor Adrian said to the holy Symphorosa: “Either sacrifice thou along with thy sons to the omnipotent gods, or else I shall cause thee to be sacrificed thyself, together with thy sons.” The blessed Symphorosa answered: “And whence is this great good to me, that I should be deemed worthy along with my sons to be offered as an oblation to God?” The Emperor Adrian said: “I shall cause thee to be sacrificed to my gods.” The blessed Symphorosa replied: “Thy gods cannot take me in sacrifice; but if I am burned for the name of Christ, my God, I shall rather consume those demons of thine.” The Emperor Adrian said: “Choose thou one of these alternatives: either sacrifice to my gods, or perish by an evil death.” The blessed Symphorosa replied: “Thou thinkest that my mind can be altered by some kind of terror; whereas I long to rest with my husband Getulius, whom thou didst put to death for Christ's name.” Then the Emperor Adrian ordered her to be led away to [be tortured and killed].” (The Passion of St. Symphorosa and Her Seven Sons Chapters 1-2)

St. Blandina of Lyons, 162 - 177 A.D.

“Blandina was filled with such power as to be delivered and raised above those who were torturing her by turns from morning till evening in every manner, so that they acknowledged that they were conquered, and could do nothing more to her. ... [And] the blessed woman, like a noble athlete, renewed her strength in her confession; and her comfort and recreation and relief from the pain of her sufferings was in exclaiming, 'I am a Christian, and there is nothing vile done by us.' ” (Letter of the Gallican Churches as quoted in Eusebius, Church History Book 5 Chapters 1-4)

St. Perpetua of Carthage, ??? - 203 A.D.

“Another day, while we were at dinner, we were suddenly taken away to be [tried], and we arrived at the town-hall...and an immense number of people were gathered together. We mount[ed] the platform. The rest were interrogated, and confessed. Then they came to me, and my father immediately appeared with my boy, and withdrew me from the step, and said in a supplicating tone, 'Have pity on your babe.' ... And as my father stood there to cast me down from the faith, he was ordered by Hilarianus to be thrown down, and was beaten with rods. And my father's misfortune grieved me as if I myself had been beaten.” (Acts of Perpetua and Felicity Chapter 2)

St. Potomiaena of Alexandria, ??? - ~203 A.D.

“God forbid that there should be another [unjust] judge, who orders [people] to submit to licentiousness. ... By the head of your Emperor whom you fear, if you have decided to punish me thus, order me to be let down gradually into the cauldron that you may know what endurance the Christ, Whom you know not, bestows on me.” (Lausiac History by by Palladius of Galatia)

“Basilides, one of the officers of the army, led [St. Potomiaena] to death. But as the people attempted to annoy and insult her with abusive words, he drove back her insulters, showing her much pity and kindness. And perceiving the man's sympathy for her, she exhorted him to be of good courage, for she would supplicate her Lord for him after her departure, and he would soon receive a reward for the kindness he had shown her. ... Not long after this Basilides, being asked by his fellow-soldiers to swear for a certain reason, declared that it was not lawful for him to swear at all, for he [had become] a Christian, and he confessed this openly.” (Eusebius's Church History Book 6 Chapter 5)

St. Eugenia, ??? - ~258 A.D.

“[We] have studied together the deeds of humanity both good and evil. We have conscientiously worked our way through the syllogisms of the philosophers, put together with such misguided effort. We have studied the arguments of Aristotle and the ideas of Plato, the principles of Epicurus and the counsels of Socrates and the Stoics, but if you could sum it all up as comprising everything the poets have written, everything the orators have proclaimed, and everything the philosophers have thought, it is all counted to be as nothing by this phrase that we have just heard being sung by these dancing Christians, 'All the gods of the nations are demons, but our God made the heavens. Praise and beauty are before him, holiness and majesty belong to his sovereign power.' ” (Life of St. Eugenia)

St. Agnes of Rome, ~291 - ~304 A.D.

“It would be an injury to my spouse [Jesus Christ] to look on any one as likely to please me. He who chose me first for Himself shall receive me. Why are you delaying, executioner? Let this body perish which can be loved by eyes which I would not.” (As quoted in Ambrose, Concerning Virginity Book 1 Chapter 2)

The Passion of Agnes by Prudentius
Poem on St. Agnes by Pope Damascus
Poem on St. Agnes attributed to St. Ambrose
The Life of St. Agnes translated by Peter F. Cunningham

St. Helen of Rome, ~248 - ~329 A.D.

“[T]he pious woman had hastened to the place indicated to her by a sign from heaven, and...pulled away everything profane and defiled, [and] found deep down when the rubble had been cleared away [the] three crosses jumbled together. ... There was also found the inscription which Pilate had made with Greek, Latin and Hebrew letters...” (Rufinus’s Church History Book 10 Chapter 7)

St. Nina, Apostle to Georgia, ~280 - ~332 A.D.

“The holy woman told [the queen] that she did not want [a reward], but that she would deem her greatest reward to be the queen’s knowledge of true religion. She then, as far as in her lay, explained the Divine doctrines, and exhorted her to erect a church in honour of Christ who had made her whole.” (Theodoret's Ecclesiastical History Book 1 Chapter 23)

St. Theodora of Alexandria, 300s A.D.

“Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate. Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter's storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.” (The Sayings of Theodora)

St. Syncletica of Alexandria, ~270 - ~350 A.D.

“In the beginning there is struggle and a lot of work for those who come near to God. But after that there is indescribable joy. It is just like building a fire: at first it is smoky and your eyes water, but later you get the desired result. Thus we ought to light the divine fire in ourselves with tears and effort.” (The Sayings of Syncletica)

St. Macrina the Younger, ~330 - 379 A.D.

Speaking of the pagan philosophers, she says, “[T]hey have, with all their diverse ways of looking at things, one in one point, another in another, approached and touched the doctrine of the Resurrection: while they none of them exactly coincide with us… As for ourselves, we take our stand upon the tenets of the Church, and assert that it will be well to accept only [a few] of [the pagan] speculations… Their statement, for instance, that the soul after its release from this body [becomes reincarnated] into certain other bodies is not absolutely out of harmony with the [Resurrection] which we hope for. … [For] we assert that the same body again as before, composed of the same atoms, is [reunited with] the soul; [while] they suppose that the soul alights on other bodies, not only rational, but irrational.” (As quoted in St. Gregory of Nyssa’s book, On the Soul and the Resurrection)

“Thou, O Lord, hast freed us from the fear of death. Thou hast made the end of this life the beginning to us of true life. Thou for a season restest our bodies in sleep and awakest them again at the last trump. Thou givest our [bodies], which Thou hast fashioned with Thy hands, to the earth to keep in safety. One day Thou wilt take again what Thou hast given, transfiguring with immortality and grace our mortal and unsightly remains. Thou hast saved us from the curse and from sin, having become both for our sakes. Thou hast broken the heads of the dragon who had seized us with his jaws, in the yawning gulf of disobedience. Thou hast shown us the way of resurrection, having broken the gates of hell, and brought to nought him who had the power of death -- the devil. Thou hast given a sign to those that fear Thee in the symbol of the Holy Cross, to destroy the adversary and save our life.” (Life of St. Macrina by St. Gregory of Nyssa)

St. Monica, 331 - 387 A.D.

“Son, for myself, I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. What I want here further, and why I am here, I know not, now that my hopes in this world are satisfied. There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God has exceeded this abundantly, so that I see you despising all earthly felicity, made His servant—what do I here?” (As quoted in St. Augustine's Confessions Book 9 Chapters 8-13. See also Confession Book 6 Chapters 1-2 and 13)

St. Paulina, ??? - 397 A.D.

“Has there ever been temperance greater than that of Paulina, who, reading the words of the apostle: 'marriage is honourable in all and the bed undefiled,' and not presuming to aspire to the happiness of her virgin sister or the continence of her widowed mother, has preferred to keep to the safe track of a lower path rather than treading on air to lose herself in the clouds? When once she had entered upon the married state, her one thought day and night was that, as soon as her union should be blessed with offspring, she would live thenceforth in the second degree of chastity, and 'Though woman, foremost in the high emprise,' would induce her husband to follow a like course. She would not forsake him but looked for the day when he would become a companion in salvation.” (St. Jerome's Letter to Pammachius 3)

St. Paula the Elder, 347 - 404 A.D.

“Among the cruel hardships which attend prisoners of war in the hands of their enemies, there is none severer than the separation of parents from their children. Though it is against the laws of nature, [Paula] endured this trial with unabated faith; nay more she sought it with a joyful heart.” “She knew herself no more as a mother, that she might approve herself a handmaid of Christ...and overcoming her love for her children by her greater love for God, she concentrated herself quietly upon [her daughter] Eustochium alone, the partner alike of her vows and of her voyage.” (Life of St. Paula the Elder by St. Jerome)

“They call the earth cursed because it drank the blood of the Lord [--] and how do they think those places are blessed in which Peter and Paul, leaders of the Christian army, shed their blood for Christ? If the confession of slaves and men is glorious, why should the confession of the Lord and of God not be glorious? We venerate the tombs of martyrs everywhere, putting their holy ashes on our eyes, if it is permitted, and we touch it with our lips. And they think a monument in which the Lord was laid to rest should be neglected?” (Letter to St. Marcella)

Woman's Work in Bible Study and Translation by Catholic Culture

St. Asella, ??? - 406 A.D.

“[T]he beautiful Asella [was] the virgin who [grew] old in the monastery, a very gentle lady and a supporter of convents.” (Lausiac History Chapter 41 by Palladius of Galatia)

“Were I to think myself able to requite your kindness I should be foolish. God is able in my stead to reward a soul which is consecrated to Him. So unworthy, indeed, am I of your regard that I have never ventured to estimate its value... Salute Albina, your mother, and Marcella, your sister; Marcellina also, and the holy Felicitas; and say to them all: We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and there shall be revealed the principle by which each has lived. And now, illustrious model of chastity and virginity, remember me, I beseech you, in your prayers, and by your intercessions calm the waves of the sea.” (St. Jerome's Letter to St. Asella)

Letter About St. Asella by St. Jerome

St. Olympias, ~365 - 408 A.D.

“[T]he wrestlings of virtue do not depend upon age, or bodily strength, but only on the spirit and the disposition. Thus women have been crowned victors, while men have been upset... It is indeed always fitting to admire those who pursue virtue, but especially when some are found to cling to it at a time when many are deserting it. Therefore, my sweet lady, you deserve superlative admiration, inasmuch as after so many men, women, and aged persons who seemed to enjoy the greatest reputation have been turned to on the contrary after so many battles...are all the more vigorous, and the increase of the contest gives you an increase of strength.” (Letters to St. Olympias by St. John Chrysostom)

“That most venerable and devoted lady Olympias followed the counsel of Melania, attending to her precepts and walking in her footsteps. ... She dispersed all her goods and gave to the poor. She engaged in no mean combats for truth's sake, instructed many women, addressed priests reverently, and honoured bishops; she was accounted worthy to be a confessor for truth's sake. The inhabitants of Constantinople reckon her life among the confessors, for she died thus and went away to the Lord in the midst of her struggles for God's honour.” (A Paragraph on St. Olympias by Palladius of Galatia)

St. Melania the Elder, 325 - 410 A.D.

“For my part, I am [a governor's] daughter and [a nobleman's] wife, but I am Christ's slave. And do not despise the cheapness of my clothing. For I am able to exalt myself if I like, and you cannot terrify me [in prison] or take any of my goods. So then I have told you this, lest through ignorance you should incur judicial accusations. For one must in dealing with insensate folk be as audacious as a hawk.” “Then the judge, recognizing the situation, both made an apology and honoured her, and gave orders that she should succour the saints without hindrance.” (Life of St. Melania the Elder [Part One] [Part Two] by Palladius of Galatia)

“Holy Melania, true nobility of our time among Christians — may the Lord let you and me share in her day — when the body of her husband was still warm and not yet buried, she lost two sons at the same time. What I shall say is incredible but not false, as Christ is witness. Who would not expect her then to be frantic with hair dissheveled, dress torn, rending her breast? Not a single tear flowed; she was immobile and, wrapped at the feet of Christ as if she held him, smiled: 'I shall serve you more effectively, Lord, since you freed me from such a weight.' But perhaps she was overcome by others? On the contrary she showed how she scorned them when she left everything she had to her only remaining son and though it was winter, embarked for Jerusalem.” (St. Jerome's Letter to St. Paula)

A Letter about the Life of St. Melania the Elder by St. Paulinus of Nola

St. Marcella, 325 - 410 A.D.

“Her mother Albina was excessively anxious to secure [an] illustrious [older] protector for [her] widowed household, but Marcella's answer was this: 'If I wished to marry and did not rather desire to dedicate myself to perpetual chastity, I should in any case look for a husband, not an inheritance.' [Her suitor] urged that old men might possibly live long and young men die early, but to that she wittily retorted: 'A young man may possibly die early, but an old man cannot possibly live long.' This definite rejection warned other men that they had no hope of winning her as wife.” (The Life of St. Marcella by St. Jerome. Another translation.)

St. Euphrasia, 380 - 410 A.D.

“My Lord Emperor, are you really trying to persuade me to renounce Christ [as a nun] in order to [marry a man who] tomorrow will be food for worms? God forbid that your servant should do this thing. ... I have given my allegiance to Christ, and that it is impossible to deny. I beseech you that in your position of authority you bear in mind what my parents wanted, and gather together all my assets and distribute it to the poor and the orphans and to the churches. ... [Also] Free all our slaves and grant them legal rights.” (The Life of St. Euphrasia)

St. Eustochium, 368 - 420 A.D.

“Who has set a better example of courage than Eustochium, who by resolving to be a virgin has breached the gates of the nobility and broken down the pride of a consular house? The first of Roman ladies, she has brought under the yoke the first of Roman families.” (St. Jerome's Letter to Pammachius 3)

Woman's Work in Bible Study and Translation by Catholic Culture

St. Mary of Egypt, ~344 - 421 A.D.

“And so I stood weeping when I saw above me the ikon of the most holy Mother of God. Not taking my eyes off her, I said, 'O Lady, Mother of God, who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word, I know, O how well I know, that it is no honour or praise to thee when one so impure and depraved as I look up to thy icon, O ever-virgin, who didst keep thy body and soul in purity. Rightly do I inspire hatred and disgust before thy virginal purity. But I have heard that God Who was born of thee became man on purpose to call sinners to repentance. Then help me, for I have no other help.' ” (The Life of St. Mary of Egypt)

St. Melania the Younger, 383 - 439 A.D.

“[She said] to her husband... 'If you choose to practise asceticism with me according to the fashion of chastity, then I recognise you as master and lord of my life. But if this appears grievous to you, being still a young man, take all my belongings and set my body free, that I may fulfil my desire toward God and become heir of the zeal of my grandmother, whose name I also bear.' ... [At] last God had pity on the young man and planted in him a zeal for renunciation, so that the word of Scripture was fulfilled in their case: 'How knowest thon, O woman, that thou shalt save thy husband?' So having been married at thirteen and having lived with her husband seven years, in the twentieth year she renounced the world.” (Two Paragraphs on St. Melania the Younger by Palladius of Galatia)

“To say the truth, I am not, indeed, conscious of any good in myself. Nevertheless, if I ever perceived that the enemy, on account of my fasting, suggested thoughts of pride to me I would answer him: What great thing is it that I should fast for a week when others for forty whole days do not taste oil, others do not even allow themselves water? So if the enemy suggested to me to be proud of my poverty, I, trusting in the Divine Power, would strive to confound his malice.” (The Life of St. Melania the Younger by Cardinal Rampolla)

The Life of St. Melania the Younger by Gerontius

St. Sarah of Alexandria, 400s A.D.

“If I prayed God that all men should approve of my conduct, I should find myself a penitent at the door of each one, but I shall rather pray that my heart may be pure towards all.” (The Sayings of Sarah)

St. Euphrosyna, 400s A.D.

“I have a father who is a Christian and a servant of God, and is very wealthy. ... My father finds it convenient in his business affairs to hand me over [in marriage and] into the toils of this wicked world. I don't want to be stained in that way, but I am frightened of disobeying my father, and I don't know what to do. ... I beg you, as you hope for a blessing on your own soul, teach me the path of God.” (The Life of St. Euphrosyna)

St. Pulcheria, 399 - 453 A.D.

“This princess was not yet fifteen years of age, but had received a mind most wise and divine above her years. She first devoted her virginity to God, and instructed her sisters in the same course of life. ... After quietly resuming the care of the state, she governed the Roman empire excellently and with great orderliness... That new heresies have not prevailed in our times, we shall find to be due especially to her, as we shall subsequently see.” (Church History Book 9 Chapters 1-3 by Sozomen)

“How much protection the Lord has extended to His Church through your clemency, we have often tested by many signs. And whatever stand [we have] made [against the heretics], has redounded chiefly to your glory. … [Now] it is worthy of your great name [to dispel] the error [of Monophysitism]...[before] it gains any strength from the support of the unwise.” (Pope St. Leo the Great’s Letter 31, sent to St. Pulcheria)

The Woman Who Saved Orthodoxy -- Twice by Catholic Exchange

St. Genevieve, ~421 - ~507 A.D.

“When it was noised abroad that Attila the king of the Huns, overcome with savage rage, was laying waste the province of Gaul, the terror-stricken citizens of Paris sought to save their goods and money from his power by moving them to other, safer cities. But Genovefa summoned the matrons of the city and persuaded them to undertake a series of fasts, prayers, and vigils in order to ward off the threatening disaster, as Esther and Judith had done in the past. Agreeing with Genovefa, the women gave themselves up to God and laboured for days in the baptistry -- fasting, praying, and keeping watch as she directed. Meanwhile she persuaded the men that they should not remove their goods from Paris because the cities they deemed safer would be devastated by the raging Huns while Paris, guarded by Christ, would remain untouched by her enemies.” (Life of Saint Genevieve Section 3)

St. Matrona of Perge, ~460 - ~510 A.D.

“Have compassion with me, O holy apostles and lights of the universe! Beseech the Lord Christ on my behalf, that I may be delivered from this vain life and be deemed worthy truly to serve Him, for I fear the [Last] Judgment and I am afraid of the punishments [hereafter]. Scorn not, O holy apostles, my wretched petitions, nor reject me as unworthy, but bring me unto yourselves and all the world unto God Who loves mankind. Soften the heart of my husband, for it is he who hinders and thwarts me. Give me aid, I pray, and grant me succor, I beg.” (The Life of St. Matrona PDF)

“In a dream the blessed Matrona thought herself to be fleeing her husband and rescued by certain monks. From this she understood that she was to enter a male monastery and thus escape the notice of her husband. Cutting her hair and dressing herself as a eunuch she went off to the church of the Holy Apostles with the aforementioned [Eugenia].” (ibid.)

“Now, while the blessed Matrona was working the ground...her fellow worker...[said] to her in a jocular manner, 'How is it, brother, that the lobes of both your ears are pierced?' But the blessed Matrona replied curtly, 'You, brother, have indulged yourself in a frivolous manner, unbefitting our profession. You should be paying attention to the ground, not to me.' ” (ibid.)

“[The superior said:] 'What shall we do, brethren, about our sister...? For even if she has proven to be a woman, nevertheless she was and is one of our members.' ... Then the deacon Markellos said to him, '... If your Holiness sees fit to send her to a women’s monastery, there is a monastery in my city, Emesa, that of the blessed Hilara, which is very beautiful and has sheltered and still shelters holy souls.' ... The blessed Matrona, then, inasmuch as she desired indeed to follow Christ, neither objected in any wise nor deliberated, but accepted her superior’s order as God’s command and went off eagerly...” (ibid.)

St. Caesaria the Younger, ~465 - ~530 A.D.

“Granted that you desire to be holy and good and praiseworthy, living under the Rule, but there is no teaching greater or better or more precious or more spelndid than the reading of the Evangelists. ... Let there be no woman from among those entering who does not study letters. Let them be bound to know all the Psalms by memory. And as I have already said, be zealous to fulfill in all things what you read in the Evangelists. ... Let your sisterhood be firm under my authority, because if you live according to it, you will take your place among the wise virgins and the Lord will lead you into his kingdom.” (Instructions for a New Convent

St. Radegund, ~520 - 587 A.D.

“[St. Helen] finds the power, you [Empress Sophia] disperse salvation everywhere, / she fills the west with what was formerly east. / Highest glory to you, Creator of things and Redeemer, / that lofty Sophia holds the august rank. / Through you the cross of the Lord claims the whole world for itself: / where it was unknown, in this way it is seen. / The greater faith of Christ reached people / when visible hope sees the power of salvation, / faith is doubled to the senses, with your gift / souls believe more what they examine with the cross as witness.” (Thanksgiving for the Relic of the Cross Lines 69-78)

The Thuringian War by St. Radegund
Ad Artachin by St. Radegund
Letter of St. Radegund to the Bishops
The Life of St. Radegund by St. Venantius Fortunatus
Baudonivia's Supplement to the Life of St. Radegund

St. Balthild of France, ~627 - 680 A.D.

“Let it be remembered, since this increases the magnitude of her own reward, that [St. Balthild] prohibited the sale of captive Christian folk to outsiders, and gave orders through all the lands that no one was to sell captive Christians within the borders of the Frankish realm[.] In addition, she ordered that many captives should be ransomed, paying for many of them herself. She established many of the captives she released in monasteries as well as many others of her own people. She could thus care for them.” (The Life of St. Balthild)

St. Hilda of Whitby, ~614 - 680 A.D.

The Life and Death of the Abbess Hilda by St. Bede the Venerable
St. Bede's Narrative of the Synod of Whitby, which St. Hilda helped organized

St. Theodosia of Constantinople, ??? - 745 A.D.

“[Emperor Leo] hastened to remove and commit to the flames the holy and sovereign icon of Christ our God, the one fixed above the gates... When the [emperor's orders] were being carried out, and as the [soldier] stodd upon the ladder endeavoring to strike down the holy icon with an ax, the blessed Theodosia, together with other pious women, took hold of the ladder [and] cast the [soldier] to the ground, and handed him over to death. ... As a result, the [women] were [executed].” (The Life of St. Theodosia)

St. Leoba, ~710 - 782 A.D.

“[St. Boniface] sent messengers with letters to [Leoba's] abbess...asking her to send Leoba to accompany him on [his] journey and to take part in [the German mission]: for Leoba's reputation for learning and holiness had spread far and wide and her praise was on everyone's lips.” (Life of Leoba)

And: “Queen Hiltigard [of Germany]...would have liked [Leoba] to remain continually at her side so that she might progress in the spiritual life and profit by her words and example. But Leoba detested the life at court like poison. ... [Her] deepest concern was the work she had set on foot. She visited the various convents of nuns [in Germany] and, like a mistress of novices, stimulated them to vie with one another in reaching perfection.” (ibid.)

And: “[One day], when [Leoba] sat down as usual to give spiritual instruction to her disciples [in Germany], a fire broke out in a part of the village. ... [Leoba] took some [blessed] salt...and sprinkled it in [some] water. Then she said: 'Go and pour back this water into the river and then let all the people draw water lower down the stream and throw it on the fire.' After they had done this the violence of the conflagration died down and the fire was extinguished just as if a flood had fallen from the skies.” (ibid.)

“I, Lioba, least of the servants of those who bear the easy yoke of Christ...beg you graciously to bear in mind your ancient friendship for my father, Dynne, formed long ago in the West country. It is now eight years since he was called away from this world, and I ask your prayers for his soul. ... I am the only daughter of my parents and, unworthy though I be, I wish that I might regard you as a brother; for there is no other man in my kinship in whom I have such confidence as in you. ... May the bond of our true affection be knit ever more closely for all time. I eagerly pray, my dear brother, that I may be protected by the shield of your prayers from the poisoned darts of the hidden enemy.” (Letter of St. Leoba to St. Boniface)

See also:

St. Mary the Harlot, by St Ephraem the Archdeacon
St. Thais the Harlot by an unknown author
St. Pelagia the Harlot by Jacob the deacon
St. Marina Virgin  by an unknown author
St. Fabiola, Virgin and Martyr, by St Jerome, presbyter and divine
Cometa and Nicosa
The Rich Virgin
The Tabennesiot Nuns
The Nun who Feigned Madness
Theodora the wife of a tribune
Basianilla the wife of Candidianus
Photina daughter of Theoctistus
Sabaniana, aunt of John of Constantinople
Avita, niece of St. Melania the Elder
Eunomia, daughter of Avita
Mother Talis
An Anonymous Nun
The Virgin who helped St. Athanasius
Juliana of Caesarea
The Virgin of Corinth
The Repentant Nun

Quotations From and About Female Ecclesiastical Writers

Ecclesiastical writers are non-saints whose writings were influential in Church history. Because they are not yet recognized by the Church as saints, I do not count them as Mothers of the Church.

Proba Betitia Faltonia, ~310 - ~360 A.D.

“[Y]our son came down from high heaven, / we prayed for something [--] / the help and advent of God, whom a woman first / wearing the face and clothing of a virgin -- marvelous to relate -- / gave birth to a boy not of our race nor blood. / And alarming prophets sang the late omens / that a magnificent man was coming to the people and to the earth / from heavenly seed, who would seize the world by his might. / And then the promised day was at hand, when for the first time / the source of divine progeny revealed his holy face.” (Proba's Cento Lines 338-347)

Egeria of Galicia, ??? - ~380 A.D.

“[In Jerusalem] before cockcrow...all the monks and virgins, as they call them here, go [to the Church of the Resurrection], and not they alone, but lay people also, both men and women... And from that hour to daybreak hymns are said and psalms are sung responsively, and antiphons in like manner; and prayer is made after each of the hymns. ... [Later] the bishop arrives with the clergy...[and] says a prayer for all, mentioning the names of those whom he wishes to commemorate; he then blesses the catechumens...says a prayer and blesses the faithful. And when the bishop comes out from within the rails [of the sanctuary], every one approaches his hand, and he blesses them one by one as he goes out, and the dismissal takes place, by daylight.” (Egeria's Travels Chapter 24 Paragraph 1)

Eudocia of Constantinople, ~401 - 460 A.D.

“And when the sun had come 'round to mid-heaven / they took [Jesus], stood apart and stretched him out / with stake after stake, now here, now there, incessant, / and naked, since his clothes lay in the palace, / straight up at the foot of the mast-beam... / ...while the mob was shouting behind him.” (Eudocia's Cento Lines 1872-1877)

(Fictional) Martyrdom of St. Cyprian (a fictional St. Cyprian)

Baudonivia, 600s A.D.

Supplement to the Life of St. Radegund

Also of Note

St. Athanasia of Aegina, ~790 - 860 A.D.

The Life of St. Athanasia (PDF)

St. Theokiste of Lesbos, ~819 - ~872 A.D.

The Life of St. Theokiste (PDF)

Roswitha of Gandersheim, ~935 - ~1002 A.D.

“I know that it is as wrong to deny a divine gift as to pretend falsely that we have received it. So I will not deny that through the grace of the Creator I have acquired some knowledge of the arts.” “[Instead] I rejoice from the depths of my soul that the God through whose grace alone I am what I am should be praised in me.” (Letter to Certain Learned Patrons)

The Plays of Roswitha
The Author's Preface to her Plays
Martyrdom of St. Pelagius of Cordoba
Life of St. Basil of Caesarea
St. John, the Poem
Acts of the Ottonian Dynasty
History of the Convent at Gandersheim

Anonymous Author of the Annals of Quedlinburg, ~1019 A.D.

The Translated Annals of Quedlinburg

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