St. Lydia of Philippi, the Equal to the Apostles (+1C.)
Commemorated May 20
St. Lydia of Philippi was born in Asia Minor in the city of Thiatira in the first century. As recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (16:12-30), St. Lydia of Philippi was the Apostle Paul's first convert to Christianity in Europe. Her conversion came after hearing St. Paul's words in Philippi proclaiming the Gospel of Christ during his second missionary journey. Looking for work, she traveled to the city of Philippi in Greek Macedonia.
St. Luke writes that St. Lydia was a porfiropolis, that is a merchant of purple cloth, an expensive type of Roman clothing. She was also a religious woman, showing great respect to the pagan gods. Lydia met with the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey about the year 50. St. Paul was preaching in the area of Troy when he had a dream. In it, a man told him, Come to Macedonia and help us. St. Paul, along with Silas, traveled to Philippi through Samothrace. At the Gaggitis River, they discovered a crowd praying to the pagan gods. Leading the group in prayer was St. Lydia.
After learning from St. Paul of Our Savior Jesus Christ, St. Lydia was baptized in the Gaggitis River and many idolaters became Christians. St. Paul and his companions were well received by Lydia as they stayed at her house after their release from the Philippi prison. St. Lydia and those who assembled in her home spent the night in prayer for the release of St. Paul and Silas, making her home the first Christian Church in Europe. When St. Paul departed from Philippi he left St. Luke behind to preach the Gospel and to establish firmly the church in Philippi, using as its core St. Lydia, the jailer, and their households.
From her scroll:
“Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God."
More information about St. Lydia of Philippi can be found here.