Saint Paul Preaching on Mars Hill (19th Century). T. Shilippoteaux Engraving
Background: abt 55 AD
After being persecuted and chased out of Thessalonica (Acts 17: 1-9) Paul and Silas went to Berea and had much success among the Greeks there, men and women (Acts 17: 10-13). But when the Jews of Thessalonica heard that Paul was in Berea they came and made trouble for him. (Acts 17: 13). Paul fled to Athens while Silas and Timotheus remained in Berea. The plan was for them to meet up with him later. While Paul was waiting for them in Athens he was very troubled by the wickedness of the people and began to preach to them in the synagogues and in the market place (Acts. 17: 16-17). Some philosophers of the Epicurians and Stoicks found him and took him to Areopagus (Mar's Hill) where the civil council met (Acts 17: 18-21). Paul preached to them, and while most of them mocked him a few believed him and "clave unto him" (Acts 17: 22- 34).
Facts about her:
- She lived in Athens, Greece;
- She was present on Mar's Hill when Paul preached to the philosophers about the true nature of God;
- She was one of the few people who believed what Paul preached;
- She "clave" to Paul's word and after he left, she followed him in order to hear more of what he had to say;
- She was not deterred from the truth by the fact that many others mocked Paul and his teachings;
- She has been made a Catholic Saint, "Saint Damaris of Athens", and in the Eastern Orthodox Church, her day is celebrated on October 2nd and October 15th for Orthodox Christians.
A view of the Aeropagus (Mar's Hill) from the AcropolisSpeculations about her:
- She was most likely a woman of high social status because only women with influence were allowed to participate in the Areopagus meetings;
- Also Luke ( the writer of Acts) mentions her name specifically along with the name of Dionysius the Areopagite who was a prominent Athenian citizen. Perhaps Luke mentioned them to emphasis the fact that rich and prominent citizens were converting to the new faith;
- Some speculate that she may have been the wife of Dionysius the Areopagite, who is later thought to have become the Bishop of Athens and that she was very influential in organizing the church in Athens;
- As a participant in the Areopagus she would have been exposed to many different philosophies and ideas about God, the world and life. It is a credit to her that she was able to recognize truth when she heard it and had the faith to chase after it.
What we can learn from her:
- If we patiently and faithfully search after truth, we will be able to recognize it and believe it when we find it;
- All women should be seekers of the the truth;
- When we find the truth we need to have the faith and courage to follow it, regardless of who is mocking or criticizing us;
- Understanding the true nature of God is the basis for any strong testimony.
- Women in Athens didn't have much opportunity for education or participation in civil life, I wonder why and how she seems to be more educated and was present at the conversations at the Areopagus?
- How do you imagine that joining the Christian church changed her position or place in society? How would it have influenced her life?
- How and where did you first gain a testimony of the true nature of God? How has this changed your life?
- I wonder why Damaris isn't a more popular girl's name among Christian families? I think any woman would be proud to be named after her!