Equal to the Apostles

Today we honour St Lydia of Thyatira, a woman found in the Book of Acts.

And upon the sabbath day, we went forth without the gate by a river side, where it seemed that there was prayer; and sitting down, we spoke to the women that were assembled. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, did hear: whose heart the Lord opened to attend to those things which were said by Paul. And when she was baptised, and her household, she besought us, saying: If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there.  Acts 13-15

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She is known as the ‘seller of purpler’ or the ‘dyer of purple’ and the Church has graciously named her patron of cloth-dyers. Why do I find the story of St Lydia so provocative? Well, the eastern and oriental Churches (our twenty-three sui iuris particular churches, as well as the Orthodox) have a special title for her, being “Equal to the Apostles.” The effect of grace on a willing heart is miraculous, and we should pray to St Lydia that God will grant us that grace: to love God with an intensity that she did while on Earth, so that we could become saints like her and spend eternity in Heaven.

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