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Living Our Faith — The early Church Mothers

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The men called “Fathers of the Church” were teachers who guarded the faith taught by the apostles. But were there also early Mothers of the Church?

A mosaic of Agnes, a martyr and one of the Mothers of the Church, adorns a chapel wall in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, in this Sept. 28 photo. Women in the early church did not generally leave behind doctrinal writings. But their lives had such a powerful impact that their stories were written, recited and sung from their day down to ours. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
A mosaic of Agnes, a martyr and one of the Mothers of the Church, adorns a chapel wall in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, in this Sept. 28 photo. Women in the early church did not generally leave behind doctrinal writings. But their lives had such a powerful impact that their stories were written, recited and sung from their day down to ours. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

Agnes, Perpetua, Felicity, Macrina and Monica are among the many women honored today by the church as saints. Their lives, documented by the Church Fathers, proved influential in the first centuries of the church’s development.

Christianity took a revolutionary approach to the treatment of women, and St. Paul frequently preached to women, showing his respect for all who were “one in Christ Jesus.”