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Mary and Early Christian Women: Hidden Leadership

SKU: 9783030111106
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This book reveals new early Christian evidence that Mary was remembered as a powerful role model for women leaders women apostles, baptizers, and presiders at the ritual meal. Early Christian art portrays Mary and other women clergy serving as deacon, presbyter/priest, and bishop.

This book is open access under a CC BY-NC-ND license.


Ally Kateusz, PhD, is a cultural historian specializing in the leadership roles of women during the early Christian era and Late Antiquity. Her research focuses on the intersection of religion and gender in art and text. She employs ancient iconography to help recover the nearly lost memories of women's ritual and liturgical authority.

Dr. Kateusz has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Early Christian Studies and the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, as well as other venues. Her research has won a First Prize Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award, a Feminae Journal Article of the Month, and the First Place Otis Worldwide Outstanding Dissertation award. She is Research Associate with the Wijngaards Institute of Catholic Research in London.


Ally Kateusz's Mary and Early Christian Women is a great leap forward in Marian studies, and in peeling away layers of deliberate patriarchal obfuscation. A remarkable achievement!
- Mary Ann Beavis, Department Head, Religion and Culture, St. Thomas More College, Canada

Using numerous tables of textual comparisons and illustrations, Ally Kateusz shows what rapidly becomes obvious. Women did what men did: teaching, leading worship, baptising. They were apostles, priests and bishops. She concentrates on Mary the Mother of Jesus, and the evidence in texts and images for her as a leader, teacher and high priest in the early Church. The case is set out clearly and the evidence is meticulously presented. This is a brilliant book, a landmark.
- Margaret Barker, author of The Mother of the Lord: The Lady in the Temple

Mary and Early Christian Women draws back the veil on the earliest representations of the Virgin Mary and her sister saints in both narrative and visual art to reveal a tradition in which women served alongside men as prayer-leaders, preachers, and baptizers. Exemplary in its attention to detail, this book raises potentially shattering questions about the role of women in the early Church.
- Rachel Fulton Brown, author of Mary and the Art of Prayer: The Hours of the Virgin in Medieval Christian Life and Thought, Associate Professor of History, The University of Chicago

Mary and Early Christian Women provides a range of resources for re-thinking women's roles and leadership in the third through tenth centuries of Christianity that surpasses anything we have seen. Commanding and explaining dozens of visual images never seen together before, Ally Kateusz provides a depth, breadth, and technical detail that will need years to appreciate and understand fully. This visual material, alongside some important texts, opens major paths to dramatically valorize women protagonists in the crucial eras after the first two centuries.
- Hal Taussig, Professor of New Testament (retired), Union Theological Seminary, USA

Dr. Kateusz provides irrefutable proof of women taking part in early church ministries.
- John Wijngaards, author of Women Deacons in the Early Church: Historical Texts