Learn, experience, pray
From the ancient Greek goddesses Athena, Artemis and Gaia to women of the New Testament and finally present-day nuns in Greek monasteries, this pilgrimage will focus on the influence of women on the spirituality and history of Christianity. Lydia, Euodia and Syntyche are women named by Paul as partners in ministry in Philippi. Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia are named as leaders in the church and in the city.
Among many women you will “meet”, you will learn about Agape, Irene, Chione and companions of Thessaloniki who are celebrated as martyrs. These three young women of Thessaloniki and their four companions (Agatho, Cassia, Philippa,and Eutychia) were martyred in March or April of the year 304 during the persecution of Diocletian. They seem to have fled the city into the countryside after the first edict of February,303, to surrender all sacred books. It is possible that they formed a group in exile of consecrated virgins and married or widowed women. Eutychia is a pregnant widow. All were found, arrested, and brought back to the city for arraignment after Diocletian’s fourth edict in winter, 304, requiring sacrifice or death.In the account oftheir trial, after a first hearing before the prefect Dulcitius, Agape and Chione, the oldest, are condemned to be burnt alive. The others are remanded because of their youth,and Eutychia because of her pregnancy. In the second hearing, Irene speaks of the two executed women as her sisters. She is threatened with consignment to a brothel, but the that does not deter her. After a third hearing, Irene is also burnt to death. The account as it has survived then says nothing about the fate of the others.The account of these brave young martyrs makes them patrons of the city of Thessaloniki, yet they are little known or remembered today.
A little about our guides
Our Greek guide, Aliki, will delight you with her vast knowledge and stories. Our educational director, Christine Schenk, CSJ, will share the history and the cultural context of influential women leaders in the early churches. Our spiritual director, Russ Petrus, will help participants prayerfully reflect on the lives of our foremothers in faith and the meaning of their contributions for both women and men in the church today.