Episcopa Theodora

The mother of Pope Paschal I, the Lady Theodora". Present detail of the mosaic.
The full mosaic view. From Left to Right: Lady Theodora, Saint Praxedis, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Pudentiana. Flanking above is the Agnus Dei, with reindeers and wolves.[1]

Episcopa Theodora is the Greek inscription on a 9th-century Christian mosaic in the Chapel of Bishop Zeno of Verona located within the Church of Saint Praxedis the Martyress in Rome.

The honorific title refers to the Lady Theodora, the historical mother of Pope Paschal I, who built the chapel for her while she was still alive, as indicated by the square halo of the mosaic. Theodora was widely known to be a devout Christian in the early Church, and was notable for her acts of piety and sanctity.

Catholic and Orthodox views

Some Roman Catholic theologians and Roman art scholars take issue with this argument by pointing out that feminizations of clerical titles have traditionally been associated with the wives and widows of early Christian clergy since the Apostolic Age.

Since married bishops were more common in late antiquity than in later centuries (priestly celibacy was only enforced in the Catholic Church after the Great Schism of 1054), the title Episcopa may refer to the wife or widow of a bishop, as well as the mother of any bishop, such as that of Pope Paschal I. Therefore, the title Episcopa was used for the Lady Theodora for her esteemed position as the mother of the Pope as well as her own piety; a holy woman who practiced great austerity and religiosity, and not as an ordained bishop.[2]

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