Womens Galleries

Women's Galleries were upper rooms or apartments in ancient churches, set apart for the use of women and catechumens. They were called κατηχούμενα and ὑπερῶα. The author of the Constitutions speaks of it as the custom of the Church in his time, where he gives directions about it that women should sit, in a separate place from the men, and thus orders, Let the doorkeepers stand at the gate of the men, and the deaconesses at the gate of the women. Intimations of this custom are frequent in writers on early Church usages, The barrier between the two was usually made by rails, or wooden walls, as they are called by Chrysostom, who has these remarkable words concerning the origin of this custom: "Men ought to be separated from women by an inward wall, meaning that of the heart; but because they would" not, our forefathers separated them by these wooden walls. For I have heard from our seniors that it was not so from the beginning. For in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female. Do we not read that men and women prayed together in their upper room?" (Homil. 74 in Matt.). In later times, however, as in the Roman and Greek usage, the separation was made by placing the women in galleries directly over the apartments of the men. See Bingham, Christ. Ant. book 8, chapter 5, § 6, 7.

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