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Elizabeth Catherine Ferard, first deaconess of the Church of England

Deaconess is a non-clerical order in some Christian denominations which sees to the care of women in the community. That word comes from a Greek word diakonos (), whence deacon, which means a servant or helper and occurs frequently in the Christian New Testament of the Bible. Deaconesses trace their roots from the time of Jesus Christ through the 13th century. Deaconesses existed from the early through the middle Byzantine periods in Constantinople and Jerusalem; although the office may not have been in existence throughout the European churches. The female diaconate in the Byzantine Church of the early and middle Byzantine periods was recognized as one of the major orders of clergy. A modern resurgence of the office began in the early nineteenth century in both Europe and North America. Deaconesses are present in many Christian denominations at the present time.

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