This is what 9th-century Byzantine feminism sounds like: St. Kassia

A SYTYCB entry

Talk to the hand

Talk to the hand. 

So there is a lot of  real talk shit-talk about The Church and its ever-metastasizing list of codified injustices to women making the rounds on the internet, but lest we forget about the female pioneers who fought — and, like the recent slew of bad-ass nuns who are sticking it hard to the Pope, the Republican Party, et. al with their “radical” and women-positive interpretations of Christian values — still fight tooth and nail to carve out a space for the marginalized in the church hierarchy, here is a post about one of the women who used her magical-virgin powers for the greater good (of feminism, that is!).

Name St. Kassia (variants of the name include Kassiani, Kassiane, and a plethora of other creaytiv spellingz).

Time period Mid-9th century (roughly 810-856).

Birthplace Constantinople.

Vocation One of the first female hymnographers in the aggressively male domain of Byzantine Orthodox art, music & otherwise praise-Jesusin’; poet; composer; abbess.

Best-known Work The aptly named Hymn of Kassiane (or The Hymn of the  Fallen Woman — even the title is female-centric!). Which I’m pretty sure I used to phonetically sound-out on Holy Tuesdays during my Greek Orthodox, pre-atheism salad days.

Feast Day September 7.

Feminist Moment Spurning the marital advances of Emperor Douchewipe the Umpteenth in a contest for the (literal) Golden Apple of his affections because she couldn’t resist the opportunity to upstage him in the following exchange (in addition to flawless beauty, one of his stipulations for his bride-to-be was that he rank below him intelligence, thus broadening the pool of potential Consorts-in-Douchewipery considerably):

Sassy Quote 

Emperor Mansplainer: From woman came the worst in the world. (Re: Eve)

St. Badass: From woman also came the best. (Re: the Virgin Mary)

Ba dum TSS. Consider yourself theologically schooled.

Ye Olde Pomaceous Fruit of Deflowering Metaphors was then handed off to the next unfortunate, not-too-brilliant beauty on tap and Kassiane went on her merry, monastic, musical way to receive some of the highest praise ever mustily conferred by the Church Fathers © of her time, and to hymnogrify her super-sexy-celibate-self into the Byzantine Chant Hall of Fame. Here’s a link to an arrangement of her eponymous  hymn if you would like to listen to the dulcet, if dirge-like, tones of Eastern  Orthodox proto-feminism in the works.

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 7, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Enjoying the hymn, as well as the story.

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