List of women Deacons in Palestine and Egypt



Manaris (of





St Elizabeth of Najrân

 syria Nonna




St Domnika

Maria of



Sources: “Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua”, vol. I – VIII, Manchester 1928 – 1962; Ute E. Eisen, “Amsträgerinnen im fruhen Christentum”, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1996; Kyriaki Karidoyanes Fitzgerald, “Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church”, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline 1998; John Wijngaards, “Women Deacons in the Early Church. Historical Texts and Contemporary Debates”, Crossroad, New York 2002; Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek, “Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History”, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 2005.


1. Anastasia (of Palestine)

Source funerary inscription of the Byzantine period in Wadi Kilt, between Jerusalem and Jericho
Date Early 6th century
Greek Text
Quote from source “Here lies Anastasia deacon, in the month of February 27, in the 11th Indiction (= 11th year in a 15 year cycle).”

2. Basilis

Source inscription on a stone with cross in the middle, near Amisos
Date 6th century
Greek Text
Quote from source Basilis deacon, who died the third of March in the fifteenth Indiction (= 15th year in a 15 year cycle).”

3. Manaris (of Gaza)

Literary Source Mark the Deacon, Life of Porphyry, Bishop of Gaza (102)
Date 395 AD
Place of Deacon Gaza in Palestine
Quote from source “Then it happened in those days that the old lady came to her rest and went to the Lord. Then calling the girl, he sent for deacon Manaris, whose name means in Greek Photeine [= light].”

4. Eneon

Source fragmentary inscription above the entrance of a burial chamber in the village of Siloam, south of ancient Jerusalem
Greek Text  jerusal
Quote from source . . . Tomb of Eneon, daughter of Neoiketes, deaconess in this hospital . . .

5. Maria (of Moab)

Source inscription from Mahaiy, Moab, in present-day central Jordan
Date Died 643-644 AD
Greek Text  mariam3
Quote from source “Here lies deacon[ess] Maria daughter of Valens who lived thirty-eight years and died in the year 538 [according to the Arabian calendar starting from Trajan’s establishment of the province in 105/106 = 643-44 AD].”

6. Marthana

Literary Source Egeria, Pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre (23.3)
Date 400-417 AD
Place of Deacon Jerusalem (?)
Quote from source “I found there a very dear friend of mine named Marthana, a holy deaconess (diaconissa) whom I had met in Jerusalem, where she had come to pray, to whose way of life all in the East bore testimony. She was governing (regebat) these monastic cells of apotactites or virgins (apotactitae virginum).”

7. Severa (of Jerusalem)

Literary Source Evagrius Ponticus, Letters (7.2, 8.2, 19.2, 20)
Date 383-397 AD
Place of Deacon Jerusalem
Quote from source “With regard to the chaste deacon Severa, I praise her intent but cannot accept the deed.”

8. Susanna

Literary Source Acta Sanctorum [= The lives of the saints]
Date 4th century AD ?
Place of Deacon Jerusalem
Quote from source “After all this, the thrice-holy bishop took holy Susanna and brought her to Eleutheropolis and put her at the head of a monastery of virgins, also making her a deacon of the holy church.”

9. Nonna (of Palestine)

Source inscription from the west side of the Jordan River in the Byzantine province of Palaestina Tertia, the southernmost section of Palestine
Date “Byzantine period”
Greek Text
Quote from source “Here was placed the blessed Nonna deacon, the twenty-third of the month of Daisius, in the first Induction.”

10. Sophia

Source inscription on a broken stone on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Date 532 – 562 AD
tomb stone

tomb stone

Greek Text  sophia2
Quote from source “Here lies the slave and bride of Christ Sophia, deacon, the second Phoebe, who slept in peace the twenty-first of the month of March in the eleventh Indiction . . . the Lord God . . .”

11. Helladis

Source An iron coffin from the crypt of a Roman mausoleum at Um Qais (Gadara), now in the museum at Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan.  Museum inscription – “Helladis, a female Byzantine deaconess. she was a relatively low rank Christian clergy”.
Date ‘4th or 5th Century’
Greek Text
Quote from source


12. St Apollonia

City or province Alexandria
Date Martyred in AD 249
details from biographies St. Apollonia
A holy virgin who suffered martyrdom in Alexandria during a local uprising against the Christians previous to the persecution of Decius (end of 248, or beginning of 249). During the festivities commemorative of the first millenary of the Roman Empire, the agitation of the heathen populace rose to a great height, and when one of their poets prophesied a calamity, they committed bloody outrages on the Christians whom the authorities made no effort to protect.
feast day February 9

13. Pentadia (of Egypt)

Literary Source John Chrysostom Letters 94, 104, 185
Date 404-407AD
Place of Deacon Egypt
Quote from source “To Pentadia, deaconess.”

14. St Domnika

City or province Alexandria
Date Born 4th century
details from biographies St. Domnika
She lived in Alexandria in the late fourth century. In order to avoid a forced marriage she ran away from home. Patriarch Nektarios of Constantinople ordained her ‘to the priestly rank of the diaconate in Christ’. She set up a religious community of women and was involved in a ministry of teaching, but towards the end of her life she withdrew into a solitary life in the desert
feast day January 8

15. Theodula

Literary Source Life of St. Euphrasia
Date 380-410 AD
Place of Deacon Egypt
Quote from source “One day the deacon Theodula said to the girl kindly: Lady Eupraxia, do you love this monastery and the sisters?”


16. St Elizabeth of Najrân

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Literary Source ‘The Martyrs of Najrân: New Documents’, by Shahid Irfan, Subsidia Hagiographica, 49, 1971.
The martyrs of Najrân were added to the Roman Martyrology in 16th century and commemorated on October 24th.
Date First quarter of 6th century
Place of Deacon Najrân, Yemen
Quote from source