Perpetua, Macrina, Theodora, Sara, Syncletica, Melania the Younger and Melania the Elder, Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Ávila—I didn’t hear about any of these great women of faith when I was growing up. It’s not that teachers withheld knowledge of them from us. Rather, I think they themselves hadn’t heard of most these women.
The absence of their stories is not only a travesty of the gospel, but also a terrible injustice. Why weren’t women’s contributions valued enough to be noted through all those centuries? Was it because women couldn’t think, except for the few who “thought like a man”? Was it, as common wisdom had it, that women’s lives were too taken up with the “trivial stuff,” like pregnancy and childbirth, and that therefore whatever we produced was trivial? Why else were our work, our concerns and our stories not considered worthy of being preserved within the larger history of the Christian tradition?