July 7, 2020

The Feast of Saint Kyriaki and the Role of Women in the Church

By Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople

(From his homily delivered in the Church of Saint Kyriaki in Kontoskaliou of Constantinople on July 7, 2020)

The feasts of female Saints and Martyrs, such as the commemoration of the Holy Great Martyr Kyriaki, is an opportunity for us to remember the martyrdoms, sacrifices and offerings of women in the Church, and the particular reverence which they give to Orthodoxy.

Unfortunately and misguidedly, the Orthodox Church is described from the outside as male-centered. However, the central position of the Theotokos in her life, the abundance of Holy Women, the contribution of women to the parishes, their multifaceted ministry work, and their essential role in the family, the "small Church", according to our predecessor on the Throne of the Church of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, are admired, canceling these views. Quite aptly, the Metropolitan of Pergamon emphasizes the fact that in Orthodox Tradition, the woman is the pre-eminent expression of the person-centered ethos.

Women, more than anyone else, and perhaps first of all as a Mother, teach us to live as persons and not as individuals, that is, as beings of a relationship, and not as autonomous and independent beings.