From the Revd Sister Teresa CSA
Sir, - In the early seventh century, the Church of the
Deaconesses, also called Theotokos of the Deaconesses, was
established in Constantinople. (I have not been able to establish
its exact location, but it was known to the second pastor of the
Kaiserswerth Deaconess foundation. Suggestions welcomed.)
An 11th-century source speaks of the exposure of a malformed
baby in "the public porch of the Deaconesses" in Constantinople.
Thus the orphanage of the Deaconesses' Church must have continued
into the 11th century, and it is earlier than the Roman one of 1198
(Comment, 1 March).
Anna Comnena (writing between 1118 and 1123) boasted that
Alexius I had carefully organised the work of the deaconesses. He
had established an Orphanotropos, a very great official to
be in charge of the orphanage-plus, a sort of social-service
village (Alexiad, Book 15). This may have replaced the
orphanage work previously done by the deaconesses.
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