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Mothers of the Church: The Witness of Early Christian Women [Paperback]

Mike Aquilina , Christopher Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 April 2012
Meet the heroines of Christianity's formative years! Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey, in a follow-up to the best-selling The Fathers of the Church, have penned an inspiring companion volume on the Mothers of the Church that, like no other book, explores their impact on history and the Faith. Mothers of the Church: The Witness of Early Christian Women will reinforce Catholics understanding of the part played by women in the early Church. Drawing upon a wide spectrum of sources, it illustrates the many kinds of women that left their mark on sacred history by responding to God s call. Whether they were martyrs, abbesses, mothers, desert solitaries, or managers of large family businesses, these women s stories will encourage you and deepen your faith. Each chapter features a concise biography that is supplemented by quotes from the Fathers writings concerning the woman in question, poetry concerning her, and other ancient testimonials. The authors authoritative yet accessible writing style deftly explores the important impact of early Christian women. The Mothers of the Church include: Holy Women of the New Testament -St. Blandina -St. Perpetua and St. Felicity -St. Helena -St. Thecla -St. Agnes of Rome -St. Macrina -Proba the Widow -St. Marcella -St. Paula -St. Eustochium -St. Monica -Egeria the Tourist

Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor Inc.,U.S. (1 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161278562X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612785622
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 682,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Mike is author or editor of more than a dozen books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion. He is vice president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology based in Steubenville, Ohio. Mike is co-host, with Scott Hahn, of The Lamb s Supper (2001), Hail, Holy Queen (2002), First Comes Love (2003), Lord, Have Mercy (2004), and Swear to God (2005) all airing on EWTN. He also appears regularly as a panelist on The Weekly Roman Observer, broadcast by Catholic Familyland Network. Mike s career in publishing spans two decades, and hundreds of his articles have appeared in many periodicals and journals in the United States and abroad.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Mike Aquilena and Christopher Bailey combine to write this brilliant book, explaining how Christianity totally transformed Roman society.Before Christianity, most baby girls died , discarded into sewers ad left exposed to the elements, leading the ancients of Rome to lament how few marriageable girls they were. Girls were 'odious daughters' . With Christianity , women refused to do this, and indeed Mike and Chris talk about the other famous early daughters of the church, Thekla, Lydia, Felicity , Perpetua, and Susanna and how the martyrdom of poor St Agnes, turned the Romans away from persecuting Christians. Women became the teachers of the Faith (not the priest).They also talk about St Macrina, who wrote books and pamphlets, explaining the faith and even founded an early monastery with her family.There were also students of St Jerome, because women were foundational to helping him write out and research for this figure ,like St Marcella, who devoted her life to prayer, study and works of charity.
Christian women were not, therefore chattels and could choose not to be married if they wished. This was revolutionary (and St Thekla had been tortured for holding out against marriage),Ineed they point out, that Christ himself pointed the way to high female dignity and value, by revealing himself to St Mary Magdalene, a woman, and as such could not even give evidence in the courts at the time.He also had women who were disciples, and revealed himself as tender to women-(woman with the heomorrage and Samarian woman at the well)They were disciples and never Apostles (apostolo:'Those who were sent out' and specially chosen.
There was of course also the witness of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself, who had brought Christ to the world and whom the angel told her she would be blessed for all time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both Informational and Inspiring 30 Mar 2012
By Sarah - Published on
This book was easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. I was looking for something to read in my leisure time during Lent, and this was the perfect choice. The author gives basic information about some of the great female figures of the early Church, often interjecting lesser-known facts about struggles these women faced. It is both educational and inspiring, and is a nice break from more intensive theology books if you're reading deeper material quite often. I would recommend this book especially for Catholic women.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity: The Original Feminism 15 July 2012
By R. S. Corzine - Published on
When St. Paul wrote to the Galatians that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" he was lobbing a verbal grenade at the established order of things. And he knew it. FOr most of his readers, the most radical of these three assertions was easily the last. Largely Hellenized Jews were present throughout the empire, and many of them were wealthy and respected. Bad luck in battle could make anyone a slave; good luck thereafter could make any slave a freeman and many former slaves thrived. But putting women and men on the same level was a frontal assault on Roman family values.

Children in the Roman world were the property of their father. They could be killed or (more often) "exposed"--that is left on a rubbish heap--at his word. Archaeologists still find such human garbage dumps. Nearly all of the ancient infant skeletons are girls. Boys would eventually grow up and acquire rights. Women (if they were lucky) would be transferred from the control of a father to the control of a husband. If she were divorced or widowed before her children were grown, she would most likely be in desperate straits. The wisdom of the day, expressed by the Greek philosopher Diogenes Laertius, put her higher on the scale of being than a beast, but lower than a barbarian. She was to be valued for her beauty and ability to beget children, but a wise man would not look for the higher things, virtue and intellect in her.

The thing that changed all of that was the coming of Christianity. Beginning in the pages of the New Testament itself and then blooming wherever the new religion went, women's stories began to emerge and be celebrated, not as mere supporting characters like Dido or Penelope (or even Atia and Cleopatra) in stories about male heroes, but as the central protagonists themselves.

In this great little book, Aquilina and Bailey tell some of their stories using contemporary accounts, letters, and their own writings. Women martyrs and heroines, women poets and thinkers, women founders of institutions, even one fourth century woman who set off on her own to travel the full length of the Roman empire as a pilgrim tourist and wrote a long account of her journey, all make an appearance. Some of these ladies, like St. Monica, St. Agnes, and St. Helena were old friends. Others, like St. Blandina and Proba, I met for the first time in these pages. We are all indebted to Teresa Bailey and Terri Aquilina for suggesting this book and inspiring their husbands to write it for us.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for all Christians! 14 April 2012
By Crunchy Con Mom - Published on
I really enjoyed this book-it is rare to find books or other media about the earliest women of the Christian faith, and this is a well-written one. I think the authors did a great job of using primary sources (ancient texts by people who actually knew these women and sometimes by the women themselves). There is discussion of human sacrifice in the Roman arena and brief mention of brothel (doesn't go into much detail on the brothel), so it isn't appropriate for kids, but because of the historial nature, I think it would be appropriate for teens despite those topics. An inspiring view of some remarkable women who were willing to give up everything to follow Christ!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but I look forward to a possible revision 17 Dec 2012
By Stuart Dunn - Published on
This book was given to me by Our Sunday Visitor in exchange for an honest review. Written by Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey. This book is a follow-up to Mike Aquilina's bestseller The Fathers of the Church, and I for one am pleased it was written. Women have played and continue to play a large role in the Church, and it's nice to see some of them highlighted in their own book.

The first mother of the Church mentioned is THE Mother of the Church, Mary. You can't have a book discussing the mothers of the Church without having Mary in it. Other holy women from the New Testament that were discussed include Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the Apostles; Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus; and Lydia, a helper of Paul.

There are about another dozen women discussed in this book. Some have stories you will recognize, like St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine who prayed for his conversion until it finally happened. Another great saint in this book is St. Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine. She was also known for discovering Jesus' Cross, which we celebrate on September 14th as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Other saints included in this book include names that you might recognize from the Eucharistic Prayer in Mass, i.e., Sts. Perpetua, Felicity, and Agnes. It was definitely interesting to learn the stories and legends of these saints that I hear so often during Mass. I think the part I enjoyed the most was reading about the saints I had never heard of like Sts. Thecla and Blandina. These chapters served as good exposure for them, and I feel I would have never heard of them apart from this book.

Overall, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was solid, but I felt it could have been a little bit better. I know you can't include every saint in a book like this, but I would have liked to see a chapter on female monastics or Desert Mothers. Mike Aquilina has been through three revisions on his book The Fathers of the Church, so I'm sure this book will see some revisions as well and improve every time.

This is still a good book though, and I think it would be the perfect gift for the special women in your life. That's not to say it wouldn't benefit a man to read this. However, I'm sure women would appreciate a book with nothing but female saints in it to look to for inspiration and models of sainthood.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't forget about the women of the church 12 Aug 2012
By Papa Z - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I initially heard about this book on the sacredpage podcast. Mike Aquilina is a very successful Catholic author and he shares some wonderful insight into the early church - not just biographically but placing these beautiful saints into a historical context. It was interesting, however I would say that many of the citings can be found in other texts, but the real emphasis seems to be the importance of women in the church and this can not be under-valued. Very good bok.
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