O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
This evening at Vespers, we sing the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6zaiZxJIpU>first of the O Antiphons, addressing God with the feminine term, Sapientia, Latin for wisdom. (The Greek word for wisdom, sophia, is also feminine, as is the Hebrew word, hokma.)
Today is the feast of a 4th-century deaconess, St. Olympias, a friend and supporter of St. John Chrysostom, and of St. Gregory Nazianzus, who wrote the epithalamion for her wedding. After her husband's death, Olympias was ordained a deaconess by Patriarch Nectarius. She established a "domestic community" near Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). After Chrysostom was banished, Olympias was accused of starting a fire in Hagia Sophia. Her community was disbanded and she was exiled. She died at Nicomedia c. 410.
A statue of St. Olympias is one of the 140 on the Colonnades of St. Peter's Basilica, #11 on the right.
Gary Macy's book,The Hidden History of Women's Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West, and Kyriaki Karidoyanes Fitzgerald's book, Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church: Called to Holiness and Ministry, provide information about an area of Church history that has been diminished, suppressed, nearly forgotten.