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St. Phoebe


Feastday: September 3

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online
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Phoebe (also spelled Feben or Phebe) was a notable first-century Christian woman mentioned in the Epistle to the Romans by the Apostle Paul (Romans 16:1-2). She held a prominent position within the church of Cenchreae and was entrusted by Paul to deliver his letter to the Romans.

In Paul's commendation, Phoebe is described as both a "servant" or "deacon" (Greek diakonos) and a helper or patron of many (Greek prostatis), making her the only woman in the New Testament to be specifically referred to with these distinctions. Paul introduces Phoebe as his emissary to the church in Rome, providing her with credentials due to their lack of acquaintance. The use of the term "deacon" or "deaconess" should not be confused with the modern usage of the word, "deacon," as the ancient understanding was different from the modern.

Paul's letter to the Romans was composed in Corinth between the years 56 and 58 AD, with the intention of garnering support for an upcoming missionary journey to Spain. Despite not having visited Rome, Paul would have been familiar with the community through contacts like Priscilla and Aquila, who had previously resided there. Scholars debate whether Chapter 16, containing Paul's commendation of Phoebe, was intended for the Roman or Ephesian Christian community.

In his letter, Paul commends Phoebe as a deacon of the church in Cenchreae, urging the Roman Christians to receive her warmly and assist her as needed, highlighting her beneficence towards many, including himself.

Unfortunately, little else is known of St. Phoebe primarily due to the lack of further mention and the long history that is passed from her time to the present age.

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