She Was Devoted to Serving the Church

Around 395 AD some Christians in and around Constantinople were being persecuted for their faith. One such Christian who faced persecution was Pentadia, a deaconess of the church there in Constantinople. After her husband was found and banished from the city, Pentadia was also targeted. Her story intersects with that of Chrysostom. Here’s how one author told this story:

Hunted from one place of retreat to another, she at last took refuge in the church, where she was effectually protected by Chrysostom…. Pentadia, in gratitude, devoted her life to the service of the church which had afforded her asylum, and of the bishop [Chrysostom] by whom the rights of that asylum had been so effectually asserted….

John Heston Willey, Chrysostom: The Orator, p. 129.

At one point when she was out and about, Pentadia’s enemy found her. Here’s what happened then:

[She] was dragged through the streets of the city and cast into prison. On her release, she determined to leave Constantinople. This news was brought to Chrysostom, and he, ever mindful of the best interests of the people, begged that she remain, as her presence was needed more in the city than anywhere else. So she stayed, and through all the days of darkness and of death she stood her ground and ministered with tender hands to the suffering and the distressed.

Smith and Wace, A Dictionary of Christian Biography, etc. s.v. Pentadia

There’s more to Pentadia’s story for sure. Chyrostom even wrote some letters to her. It’s a fascinating window into one part of Christian life in the early church. This story of Pentadia is a good example of a faithful Christian woman who served Christ and his church well. It’s also a good story about how Christians support and help each other through suffering and persecution. Perhaps this story might even be another real life example of Paul’s pastoral relationship with Phoebe, Euodia, and Syntyche. It’s a story worth knowing!

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

6 thoughts on “She Was Devoted to Serving the Church”

  1. Thanks for this inspiring story – there are many of these gems for sure. Quick question: how do you know she was a “deaconness”. Are you simply using that term generically for someone who serves the church with their life and ministry? Or is this saying that she held the Biblically ordained office of deacon (for males only) as outlined clearly in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1?

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