Egyptian Women in the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt

Both Egyptian and foreign historians have testified to the high status of women in all spheres of life during the ancient Egyptian period. Women were queens in their own right; once, the chief physician was a woman. In the spiritual life, there were priestesses and female musicians and dancers serving in temples. This book deals with the role of women in the Christian Coptic Orthodox Church, which was established in the first century AD. The Coptic church has been blessed with thousands of female martyrs and saints, some of whom are of worldwide fame.

There are fourteen female saints after whom Coptic churches in Egypt are named. The Virgin St. Mary is the most prominent of them. The two Egyptian saints Demianah and Refqah are also popular. Sts. Verena and Regula are Egyptian saints who were martyred and buried in Switzerland. St. Verena evangelized in Switzerland and taught Swiss maidens hygiene practices. There are more than eighty monuments consecrated to St. Verena in Switzerland. The Egyptian St. Sophia has a world-famous church in her name in Istanbul, Turkey.

Unfortunately, after the Arab invasion of Egypt in the seventh century, the role of women in the church diminished considerably. However, since the middle of the twentieth century, a great revival of the role of women has occurred; more women have entered religious life as nuns and deaconesses, serving as Sunday school teachers, writing books about the church, and even teaching in Coptic seminaries.

My goal is for this book to reach English language readers all over the world and enlighten them about the contribution of women in the service of Christianity through the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt.

--Aida Beshara

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