The Council of Chalcedon, in Canon 15, seems to approve and give rules for women made deaconesses:

No woman under forty years of age is to be ordained a deacon, and then only after close scrutiny. If after receiving ordination and spending some time in the ministry she despises God’s grace and gets married, such a person is to be anathematised along with her spouse.

Some women, including old widows, seem to have become ‘holy women’ with a certain status. Was Chalcedon dealing with another of the roles taken in the Church by women who committed to lifelong celibacy? How do these historical facts affect the debate on female rulers in the Church, if they do so at all?

3 responses to “Deaconesses

  1. I’ve mentioned this in a post on women’s ordination.


    • One thing that raises questions is the supposition that marrying after ordination represents scorn for God’s grace. I’ve always wondered why the Eastern churches had this rule, and how it might or might not be related to clerical celibacy in Western Rite churches.


  2. Pingback: Women’s Ordination – A Living Text

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