25 Inspiring Quotes from Women in Church History

25 Inspiring Quotes from Women in Church History

 

“I cannot be called anything other than what I am, a Christian.”[1]

- Vibia Perpetua (c. 182-203) was arrested by imperial decree in Carthage, North Africa, together with her servant Felicitas and three other Christians. She was executed the following year. Her account of her martyrdom, the Passion, is one of the earliest texts written by a Christian woman.

 

“A happy life is the perfect life to which we are led by a firm faith, cheerful hope, and fervent love.”[2]

- Monica of Tagaste (c.331−387), mother of the famous theologian Augustine, during a discussion of happiness with Augustine and his young companions.

 

“But I, Dhuoda – lukewarm and lax, fragile and always tending toward the depths – fail to take pleasure in short prayer, much less in long prayer. Still, I have hope in him who permits the faithful to seek him.’”[3]

- Dhuoda of Uzès (c. 800-843), a Frankish noblewoman and one of the earliest medieval women writers known, in a book written for her son.

 

“I will kiss Thy undented feet,

And will wipe them dry again

With the curling locks of my head,

The feet whose dread sound Eve in Paradise

Heard in her ears, and hid for terror.”[4]

- Kassia of Byzanthium (c. 800-843), abbess, poet, and hymnographer

 

“She was created in the image of God! How can anyone dare slander the vessel that bears such noble imprint? … And if anyone says that it was a woman, Lady Eve, who caused man’s fall from Paradise, I would say that man gained more through Mary than he lost through Eve.”[5]

- Christine de Pizan (1364-1430), Italian poet who became the first female professional writer of the Middle Ages.

 

“No one has a right to exercise sovereignty over the word of God. Yes, no human being, whoever he be, can rule over it. For the word of God alone – without which nothing was made – should and must rule.”[6]

- Argula Von Grumbach (1492-1554), a German noblewoman who defended a young Lutheran condemned by Roman Catholic Church authorities. She was ridiculed and mistreated for her stand.

 

“Patience will make lighter what you cannot change. The best advice I can give you, if you can’t bear adversities patiently, is to turn to Him who calls to himself all those who labor and are heavy laden, in order to give them rest. He cannot lie. He will strengthen and give you the promised Holy Spirit, so that you will be able to taste the heavenly goods which will undoubtedly mitigate your grief and quench your thirst for those things – for he drinks that water will never thirst again.”[7]

- Olympia Morata (1526-1555), Italian poet and scholar.

 

“[Learning] will be a hedge against heresies.”[8]

- Bathsua Makin (c. 1600-1675), English educator

 

“No friend I have like Thee to trust, for mortal helps are brittle dust.”[9]

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), first published female poet in North America.

 

“A man’s own nature will never be willing to talk with God; for by nature we run away from him with Adam. ... Yet Adam had more cause to run away than we have, and we have more cause a great deal to come to God, than he had; for he knew not then that God would call him back again, and give him his pardon in Christ, who should tread down the head of the Serpent, which beguiled him.”[10]

- Dorothy Leigh (d. 1616), British author. Her letter to her sons was published several times.

 

“Thou [Satan] in this war His heel shalt bruise, but He

Thy head shall break. More various Mystery       

Ne’re did within so short a sentence lie.     

Here is irrevocable vengeance, here           

Love as immutable. Here doth appear               

Infinite Wisdome plotting with free grace.”[11]

- Lucy Hutchinson (1620-1681), British author and poet.

 

“O what will he make of his church when sinless and in heaven, when he makes so much of her, when sinful and on earth! and how incomprehensibly glorious must he be in himself, that puts such passing glory on her!”[12]

- Margaret Mure (ca. 1625-ca. 1672), British editor of her husband’s work on the Song of Solomon.

 

“There needs a great deal of spiritual wisdom to cry aloud against sin without wounding the faith of God’s dear children, as to their interest in Christ and his Salvation.”[13]

- Anne Dutton (ca. 1692–1765), British author and theologian

 

“Don’t let me retreat from the hope that is placed on you, Rather, relight my heart, that I may keep knocking at the door of grace.”[14]

- Kata Bethlen (1700–1759), Transylvanian noblewoman, author and patron

 

“And what if you save (under God) but one soul?”[15]

- Selina Hastings (1707-1791), British countess, patron of dissenting preachers and founder of churches.

 

“If my immortal Saviour lives,

Then my immortal life is sure;

His word a firm foundation gives,

Here, let me build, and rest secure.”[16]

- Anne Steele (1717-1778), British hymnographer.

 

“Thus diff’rent powers within me strive,

And death, and sin, by turns, prevail.

I grieve, rejoice, decline, revive,

And vict’ry hangs in doubtful scale.

But Jesus has his promise passed

That grace shall overcome at last.”[17]

- Isabella Marshall Graham (1742-1814), Scottish educator, founder and pioneer of charitable societies in America

 

“Had not Christ taken away the evenom’d sting, where had been our hopes? What might have not we fear’d, what might have not we expect’d from the dreadful King of Terrors? But this is matter of endless praise, to the King eternal, immortal, invincible, that it is finished.”[18]

- Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784), first African-American published female poet

 

“There he stands among the myrtles,

Worthiest object of my love;

Yet in part I know his glory

Towers all earthly things above;

One glad morning

I shall see him as he is” [19]

- Ann Griffiths (1776–1805), Welsh poet and hymnographer

 

“Are these, thought I, the beings with whom I must spend the remainder of my life? ... They are men and have souls—was the reply which conscience made.”[20]

- Betsey Stockton (c. 1798-1865), African-American educator and missionary to the Hawaii, commenting about her initial culture shock.

 

“The most efficient protest against this blind exclusive theory, which would inaugurate the reign of selfishness throughout nature, is to be found in the human heart.”[21]

- Lydia Falconer Miller (1812-1876), Scottish author and editor of her husband’s scientific works.

 

“Christ was never in a hurry.”[22]

- Mary Slessor (1848-1915), Scottish missionary to Nigeria

 

“People are looking to us for strength and help. They need our best efforts, our bravest words, our noblest deeds, our tenderest love, and our most helpful sympathy. This is a needy world; outstretched hands may be seen by the thousands asking for aid. It is our duty to relieve human wants. Let us place our standard high, but be willing to do the lowest task, the most distasteful labor, be ever helpful and generous, and be ready to lend a helping hand.”[23]

- Rosa Young (1890-1971), Lutheran African-American educator

 

“The church of Christ is His body. He purchased the church with His own blood. He has promised that the gates of hell shall never overcome the church. You ask me if the church of Christ will be destroyed? How could it be, in the light of all these great promises?”[24]

- Jeanette Li (1899-1968), Chinese Christian who suffered imprisonment and persecution under the Communist regime.

 

“Teach me to see that this is you who carries everything in your strong hands, then I can even be happy knowing that you are fulfilling your plans.”[25]

- Diet Eman (1920-2019), Dutch Resistance Fighter Who Helped Jews Escape the Nazis

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Patrick Geary, ed., Readings in Medieval History, Vol. 1, The Early Middle Ages, University of Toronto Press, 2016, 52

[2] Augustine, De Vita Beata, 4.35, https://www.augustinus.it/latino/felicita/index2.htm, my translation.

[3] Dhuoda, Handbook for William: A Carolingian Woman's Counsel for Her Son, trans. Carol Neel, Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press 1991, 18

[4] The Scottish Review, ed. by Alexander Gardner, Vol 32, London: Paisley, 1898, p. 311

[5] Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies and Other Writings, ed. Rebecca Kingston, Sophie Bourgault, Hackett Publishing Company, 2018, 37

[6] Peter Matheson, ed., Argula Von Grumbach: A Woman's Voice in the Reformation, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995, 82

[7] Olympia Morata, “Olimpiae Moratae Dialogus Secundus,” quoted in Lanfranco Caretti, “Notizie sugli scritti di Olimpia Morata,” Annali della R. Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. Lettere, Storia e Filosofia, series II, Vol. 11, No. 1, Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore , 1942, 59, my translation

[8] Bathsua Makin, An Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen, in Religion, Manners, Arts & Tongues, London: J.D. & Tho. Parkhurst, 1673. https://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/makin/education/education.html.

[9] Anne Bradstreet, The Poems of Mrs. Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672): Together with Her Prose Remains, The Duodecimos, 1897, 332

[10] Dorothy Leigh, The Mother’s Blessing, Ann Arbor, MI; Oxford (UK): Text Creation Partnership. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A05259.0001.001?view=toc, 67-68

[11] Lucy Hutchinson, Order and Disorder, 5:66-71. London: Margaret White for Henry Mortlock, 1679, New York: Bartleby.com, 2009, https://www.bartleby.com/239/5.html

[12] James Durham, Clavis Cantici; Or, an Exposition of the Song of Solomon, Aberdeen: George King, 1840, 15

[13] Anne Dutton, “Letter 921,” Anne Dutton to Howell Harris (July 13, 1743), The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK, Quoted in Michael Sciretti, “Anne Dutton as a Spiritual Director,” The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, 2009, 33.

[14] Jean de Saint Blanquat, “Kata Bethlen l’orpheline,” in Foi & Vie (2010/2), 75. https://www.academia.edu/10354416/Kata_Bethlen_lorpheline?auto=download.

[15] John Wesley, The Letters of the Rev. John Wesley (London: Epworth, 1960), 2:15

[16] Anne Steele, The works of Mrs. Anne Steele, Boston: Munroe, Francis, and Parker, 1808, 39 (see https://archive.org/details/worksofmrsannest00stee/page/n3/mode/2up)

[17] E. White, The Power of Faith Exemplified in the Life and Writings of Mrs. Isabella Graham of New York, New York: Jonathan Leavitt, 1828, 300

[18] Kenneth Silverman, “Four New Letters by Phillis Wheatley,” Early American Literature Vol. 8, No. 3 (Winter, 1974), University of North Carolina Press, 266.

[19] H. A. Hodges, Flame in the Mountains: Williams Pantycelyn, Ann Griffiths and the Welsh Hymn, Ed. by E Wyn James, Y Lolfa, 2017, Kindle edition, loc. 3155

[20] Betsey Stockton, Journal, April 4, 1823, in The Christian Advocate, vol. 3, ed. by Ashbel Green, Philadelphia: A. Finley, 1825, 39.

[21] Lidia Miller, “Preface,” in Hugh Miller, Footprints of the Creator: Or the Asterolepis of Stromness, Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo, 1872, lxi.

[22] William Pringle Livingstone, Mary Slessor of Calabar: Pioneer Missionary, Hodder and Stoughton, 1915, 27

[23] Rosa Young, Light in the Dark Belt, St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1929, 35-36

[24] Jeanette Li, Jeanette Li, A Girl Born Facing Outside, transl. by Rose Huston, Pittsburgh, PA: Crown and Covenant Publications, 2014, xii

[25] Diet Eman, with James Schaap, Things We Couldn’t Say, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI: 1994, 45

 

Simonetta Carr

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