13 The Female Disciples - Paul De Marco

posted May 8, 2019, 8:32 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 8, 2019, 8:32 AM ]
A band of pioneering women—the Daughters of Jerusalem

Today, we take for granted that there should be equality between men and women, and yet, historically speaking, this is a recent phenomenon. It took female trailblazers like the suffragettes, Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison to fight for the rights of women and to galvanise public opinion. It was Emily who ran in front of King George V's horse, Anmer, at the Epsom Derby on June 4, 1913, and who subsequently died of her injuries four days later. Women in Britain over the age of thirty were finally allowed to vote in November 1918.

Other notable women who were prepared to risk their lives and break the protocols of their day were the nurses of the Crimean War (1853- 1856), such as Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, the Jamaican-born nurse nicknamed 'The Black Florence Nightingale'. Florence trained 38 female volunteers, and along with 15 Catholic nuns, left England for the Selimiye Barracks in Istanbul. Here, the women cared for the wounded and the dying under atrocious conditions, and Florence successfully raised public awareness of the plight of these forgotten soldiers. After the war, she established the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St Thomas' Hospital, and in so doing, she revolutionised nursing forever.

Women such as these were outstanding, and would have been so in any generation, but if we rewind the clock of history back to the time of Jesus, we find another group of brave women. They've been overlooked by authors writing on the history of the early Church, and yet, they gave up their lives to support Jesus throughout His ministry, often travelling with Him and the apostles. By taking responsibility for their needs, these women freed up valuable time for Jesus and a large number of disciples, to preach to the ever growing crowds and to heal the sick. In a patriarchal Jewish society, they had to rise above prejudice and bigotry every day in order to carry out this vital role.