Domestic harmony from the first to the fourth century AD was seriously undermined by an ascetic tradition which advocated chastity and virginity, and appealed particularly to women. Ascetic renunciation freed holy women of traditional womanly duties and modes of dress and behaviour. The Church Fathers were placed in a curious dilemma - while they welcomed the idea of celibacy as a route to higher spirituality, when their wives and daughters began to renounce their sexual roles and assume spiritual and social independence, the Church found it difficult to accept. Saints such as Mary of Egypt, a converted up-market prostitute who lived naked in the desert and howled at St Zozimas all night, provoked the Church Fathers to introduce legislation to bring the holy women under control. Salisbury traces these debates and legislation within the Church, and contrasts them with the real life histories of seven truly remarkable women Saints.
Publisher: Verso Books
Number of pages: 180
Weight: 262 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 9 mm
Edition: New edition
.".. wonderful accounts of female bloody-mindedness and a very accessible explanation of the Church's growing limitation of women's roles ... it is unusual to find a book that is both useful and fun."--Sara Maitland
"The modern resistors of the feminine role can now, thanks to this lively book, take heart from the exploits of their foremothers who cocked a snook at bossy St Jerome and guilt-ridden St Augustine and invented their own routes to freedom and fulfillment."--"New Statesman and Society"