The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity

The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity

Paperback Oxford Early Christian Studies (Paperback)

By (author) Stephen J. Davis


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 213mm x 18mm | 404g
  • Publication date: 15 November 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199548714
  • ISBN 13: 9780199548712
  • Illustrations note: 6 maps, 26 b/w figures
  • Sales rank: 1,332,263

Product description

Thecla, a disciple of the apostle Paul, became perhaps the most celebrated female saint and 'martyr' among Christians in late antiquity. In the early church, Thecla's example was associated with the piety of women - in particular, with women's ministry and travel. Devotion to Saint Thecla quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean world: her image was painted on walls of tombs, stamped on clay flasks and oil lamps, engraved on bronze crosses and wooden combs, and even woven into textile curtains. Bringing together literary, artistic, and archaeological evidence, often for the first time, Stephen Davis here reconstructs the cult of Saint Thecla in Asia Minor and Egypt - the social practices, institutions, and artefacts that marked the lives of actual devotees. From this evidence the author shows how the cult of this female saint remained closely linked with communities of women as a source of empowerment and a cause of controversy.

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Author information

Stephen J. Davis is Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University.

Review quote

"This is a welcome study in English of a widespread earlyChurch tradition, most of whose scholarship is in German.This is a fascinating addition to our knowledge of theThelca cult...a valuable contribution."--Journal of EarlyChristian Studies

Table of contents

I: THE CULT OF ST THECLA IN ASIA MINOR ; 1. Origins of the Thecla Cult ; 2. The Cult of Thecla at Seleucia in Asia Minor ; II: THE CULT OF SAINT THECLA IN EGYPT ; 3. Thecla Devotion Among Ascetic Women in Alexandria ; 4. Pilgrimage and the Cult of Saint Thecla in the Mareotis ; 5. The Spread of Thecla Devotion Outside Alexandria and Its Environs