Role of women in the early church


A chara, – I was somewhat surprised to read Mary T Martin’s statement that “The women founded Christianity”(“Mary McAleese says ‘game is almost up’ for all-male Catholic Church”, Religion & Beliefs, March 12th).

Ms Martin is described in the report as a theologian; she is therefore aware that the New Testament makes it clear that it was Jesus Christ who is the founder of our faith.

Presumably what she intended to convey was her frustration at the way the role of women in the early church is often ignored.

However, I am sure that as someone who is also described as a “committed Christian”, she would not wish to in any way give the impression that she was attempting to downplay the divine origins of the Christian religion.

She also says “there were no men supporting Jesus at the crucifixion”. This is not the case. We know from the gospel record that the beloved disciple, St John, stood at the foot of the Cross as he suffered and died. And it was St Joseph of Arimathea and St Nicodemus who took his body down from the cross, prepared it for burial, and took it to the tomb.

She further claims that “the women were at the Resurrection”. They were not.

The Gospels are very clear that the women who went to the tomb on the morning of the third day arrived after he had risen. However, it was to these women that our Lord made his first post-resurrection appearance.

Correcting the record concerning women’s role in the early days of Christianity is a laudable aim.

However, this work can only be undermined by trying to replace one inaccurate version of events with another, particularly one that is so easily contradicted by what we know from scripture. – Is mise,



Co Kilkenny.