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The Hidden History of Women's OrdinationFemale Clergy in the Medieval West$
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Gary Macy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189704

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189704.001.0001

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 The Ministry of Ordained Women

 The Ministry of Ordained Women

(p.49) 3 The Ministry of Ordained Women
The Hidden History of Women's Ordination

Gary Macy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A detailed analysis of the references to and the liturgical functions of four ministries are the focus of this study: episcopae (women bishops), presbyterae (women priests), deaconesses, and abbesses. Women are described, for instance, as leading liturgies, distributing communion, hearing confessions, and serving at the altar. The ministries of episcopae presbyterae and deaconesses may have been supported by an understanding of the local church as an extended family, as clergy were married and clerical spouses may have co‐ministered those churches. The role of deaconess and abbess were understood by some contemporaries to have merged by the 10th century. The functions of deaconess and abbesses is much clearer as the rites for the ordinations of both have survived, as have detailed instructions on the role of abbesses in their religious rules.

Keywords:   abbess, bishop, confession, deaconess, Mass, ordination, priest, woman

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