Famous Christian Women

By Tim Lambert

In every age, there have been important and influential women in the Church. The following is a list of some of the great women in the history of the Church.

Women in The Early Church

Blandina ?-177 AD She was a famous martyr in what is now France

Perpetua and Felicitas 203 AD

These two women were famous Christian women martyrs. (There were of course many other women martyrs).

Faltonia Betitia Proba 4th Century AD

There were also women writers in the early church. She was a Christian poet.

Fabiola 4th Century AD

She was a wealthy woman who gave up everything to nurse the poor

Christian Women in The Middle Ages

Brigid c. 450-525

She founded the first women’s religious community in Ireland

Clotilde 475-545

Clotilde married Clovis, the king of the Franks who ruled northern France. She was instrumental in converting her husband to Christianity.

Berta or Bertha 539-612

In the 6th century AD, England was divided into small kingdoms and the English were pagans. However, Berta was from France and she was a Christian. She was married to the king of Kent. It was partly due to her influence that Kent was converted to Christianity.

Hilda of Whitby 614-680

Hilda was an influential woman in the Saxon church who founded Whitby Abbey. In 664 she hosted the Synod of Whitby. (At that time there were two kinds of Christianity, Roman in most of Europe and Celtic in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. The Synod (meeting) of Whitby was held to decide which side the kingdom of Northumbria (northern England) should join. (Hilda much preferred Celtic Christianity but the Synod decided on Rome).

St Eormenhild of Ely Her name is sometimes given as Ermenilda. She was a queen in the 7th century but when her husband died she became a nun and an abbess. Little is known about her but she was remembered as a saintly woman.

Leoba or Lioba c 710-782 Leoba was an English nun who went to Germany and played a leading role in the Church there

Kassia 810-867 She was a Byzantine poet and hymn writer

Hildegard c. 1098-1179

Hildegard was a theologian and writer. She also wrote about medicine. She also wrote music and a play.

Heloise 1101-1164 She was a French Abbess and she was widely respected for her learning

The Waldensians 1175 onward

The Waldensians were a Christian movement that began in southern France and spread across central Europe and Italy in the 13th century. Many Waldensian preachers were women.

Clare of Assisi 1194-1253

A follower of Francis of Assisi she founded an order of nuns called the Poor Clares

Julian of Norwich 1342-1416

Despite the masculine name, Julian was a woman. She was a famous mystic and writer. Julian wrote about the ‘motherhood’ of God.

Catherine of Siena 1347-1380

Catherine was a great theologian of the Middle Ages

Margery Kempe 1373-1439

Margery was an English mystic. The story of her life became a famous book The Book of Margery Kempe.

The Lollards c. 1380 onward

The Lollards were a Christian movement in England from the late 14th century to the early 16th century when they merged with the Protestants. Many Lollard preachers were women.

Christian Women in The 16th century and 17th century

Anne Askew 1521-1546 She was an English Protestant martyr

Katharine Zell 1497-1562

Katharine was an influential Protestant in Germany. She visited the sick and prisoners and sheltered Protestant refugees. She also wrote letters, which were circulated among Protestants.

Anne Hutchinson 1591-1643 Anne was a preacher in 17th century Massachusetts

Anne Bradstreet 1612-1672

Anne Bradstreet was a Christian poet of the 17th Century. She was born in Northampton but in 1630 she emigrated to North America.

Margaret Fell 1614-1702

She was one of the co-founders of the Quakers. One of the books she wrote was called Women’s Speaking Justified, Proved, and Knowed of the Scriptures.

In the 18th century when the Methodist movement was born many Methodist leaders were women. John Wesley supported them but after his death in 1791, the Methodists began to disfavor women leaders. In the USA there was a movement called the Separate Baptists, which allowed women preachers.

Christian Women in The 18th Century

Anne Dutton 1692-1765 Anne was a theologian

Selina, Countess of Huntingdon 1707-1791 Selina was a key figure in the Methodist Movement of the 18th Century

Sarah Osborn 1714-1796 Sarah was a Christian leader and writer

Sarah Crosby 1729-1804 Sarah was a famous Methodist preacher

Ann Lee 1736-1784 Ann was a Quaker missionary

Hannah More 1745-1833 Hannah was a famous writer and philanthropist

Phyllis Wheatley 1753-1784 Phyllis was a poet

Hannah Adams 1755-1831 Hannah was a famous Christian writer

Elizabeth Ann Seton 1774-1821 She was a Christian writer

Ann Judson 1789-1826 Ann was a missionary to Burma

Some people think that Victorian women just stayed at home all day. In reality, women were evangelists, preachers, writers, and missionaries. They also organized charities.

Christian Women in the 19th Century

Mary Jones 1784-1864 She inspired the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society

Phoebe Palmer 1807-1874 Phoebe was a famous evangelist and writer

Frances Crosby 1820-1915 Frances was a famous hymn-writer of the 19th century

Antoinette Brown 1825-1921 In 1853 she became the first ordained Congregationalist woman minister

Catherine Booth 1829-1890

Catherine Booth was a preacher. She married William Booth in 1855. (At first, William disagreed with the idea of women preachers but he changed his mind after hearing Catherine preach!). Catherine and William founded the Salvation Army in 1865.

Hannah Whitall Smith 1832-1911 Hannah was a writer and evangelist

Lottie Moon 1840-1912 She was a missionary to China

Maria Woodworth-Etter 1844-1924 She was a famous evangelist

Mary Slessor 1848-1915 She was a missionary to Africa

Christian Women in the 20th Century

Evangeline Booth 1865-1950

From 1904 Evangeline was the leader of the Salvation Army in the USA. From 1934-39 she was Commander in Chief of the Salvation Army worldwide.

Ida Scudder 1870-1960 She was a medical missionary

Evely Brand 1879-1974 She was a missionary to India

Gladys Aylward 1903-1970 She was a missionary to China

Patricia St John 1919-1993 She was a Christian writer

Esther John 1929-1960 She was a Pakistani Christian nurse and martyr

Eva Burrows 1930- She was an Australian evangelist

Meanwhile, a new Christian movement started at the beginning of the 20th Century – Pentecostalism. Many of the preachers in the new movement were women.

Agnes Ozman 1870-1937 She was a Pentecostal evangelist

Aimee Semple McPherson 1890-1944 She is probably the most famous women evangelist of the early 20th century

Categorised as Articles