Join Sr. Christine Schenk for a once in a lifetime journey exploring the lives and history of women in Early Christianity. Her groundbreaking research, now captured in her awarding winning book, Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity, will provide the backdrop for this pilgrimage.
Up until now, our understanding of the authority of women in Early Christianity has been excavated from the literary sources. But Christine Schenk, CSJ, explores visual imagery found on burial artifacts of prominent early Christian women. Carefully situating the tomb art within the cultural context of customary Roman commemorations of the dead, she provides an in-depth review of women‘s history in the first four centuries of Christianity. From this, a fascinating picture emerges of women‘s authority in the early church--a picture either not readily available or recognized, or even sadly distorted in the written history.
The Pio Cristiano Museum in the Vatican Museums contains the most comprehensive collection of early Christian archaeological discoveries in the world. The collection of fourth century sarcophagi give us a window into the lives of early Christian women. The women hold scrolls, raise their hands in teaching and proclaiming gestures in iconography similar to Jesus figures in nearby tombs. Christine Schenk has pioneered research in this area. Beyond the literary evidence, she shows how these funerary motifs offer even more convincing evidence that women held positions of authority.
Sr. Chris Schenk, is the founding director of FutureChurch. She led the organization from 1990-2013 and is one of three nuns featured in the award-winning documentary Radical Grace. Chris created and led pilgrimages to Rome sites of women leaders in early Christianity in 2006, 2007, 2013, and 2014. As the iconography illustrating women's authority in the first five centuries of the Christianity was introduced, she wondered if the women's sarcophagi supplied persuasive evidence of women's ministerial involvement. No such study had been done before so Chris took up the challenge and produced her first groundbreaking work, Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity. The book details original research into iconic motifs of female authority found in early Christian art and archaeology. Published by Fortress Press, the book won the Catholic Press award in 2018. Chris currently writes an award-winning column “Simply Spirit” for the National Catholic Reporter.
Russ Petrus currently serves as Associate Director for FutureChurch. He holds an M.Div. from Weston Jesuit School of Theology and the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. Jesuit-educated and formed since high school, Russ is well-versed in Ignatian Spirituality but has also been heavily influenced by the many Franciscan priests, brothers, and sisters with whom he studied. Prior to joining FutureChurch, Russ engaged in parish and college ministry for over ten years in the areas of life-long faith formation, liturgy coordination, RCIA direction, and music ministry. Russ has developed and facilitated numerous programs and retreats on topics ranging from contemplative prayer to social justice for a variety of audiences. At FutureChurch Russ has created and led dozens of profoundly engaging prayer services and reflections. Along with his many talents, Russ is trained as a classical musician.
Register to join Sr. Chris Schenk and Russ Petrus for this exciting journey to Rome, Ostia with an optional trip to Naples and Pompeii.