Feast of Agnes, Child Martyr at Rome, 304 That is where they meet, the Upper Room, scene of the Last Supper, scene of the Resurrection appearances when the doors were shut, scene now of their waiting for the Spirit. Whose is it? The clue lies in Acts 12, where St. Peter, strangely freed from Herod's prison, knows at whose house they will be gathered for prayer. He knocks, startles the gate-girl Rhoda. It was "the house of Mary the mother of John whose surname was Mark" -- the young man who was to write the earliest of the gospels. The first meeting place of any Christian congregation was the home of a woman in Jerusalem. Something of the sort happens everywhere. The church in Caesarea centres upon Philip the Evangelist. "Now this man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." ... Joppa church depends on Tabitha, "a woman full of good works and almsdeeds which she did". Follow St. Paul about the Mediterranean. He crosses to Europe because he dreams of a man from Macedonia who cries, "Come over and help us". But when he lands at Philippi it is not a man, but a woman. "Lydia was baptized and her household" -- his first convert in Europe, a woman. Everywhere women are the most notable of the converts, often the only ones who believe. In Thessalonica there are "of the chief women not a few"; Beroea, "Greek women of honourable estate"; Athens, only two names, one of them, Damaris, a woman. At Corinth Priscilla and Aquila come into the story, the pair always mentioned together, and four times out of the six with the wife's name first, a thing undreamed of in the first century. Why? Because she counted for more in church affairs -- hostess of the church in her houses in Corinth, Ephesus and Rome, chief instructress of Apollos the missionary, intimate of the greatest missionary of all, St. Paul. Six times in the Epistles greetings are sent to a house-church, and in five cases the church is linked with a woman's name.
Quotes, by John Foster