• 03 Aug 22

Aug 3 - “St. Lydia Purpuraria” © artwork by Brenda Nippert. Happy Feast Day St. Lydia!

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Lydia was from Thyatira, a town in Asia Minor.  We don't know much about her and the second part of her name “Purpuraria” was not really her name, but we call her this because it means “merchant of purple”.  In the Bible (Acts 16:12-30), we are told she was Saint Paul's first convert in Philippi.  She was so excited about Paul's message that she and her entire household were baptized and then she invited Paul and his companions to stay at her house.  As a “merchant of purple”, her business would have been to gather certain kinds of mollusks (a type of shellfish), which secreted a substance used to make purple dye, the dye was then used to dye cloth purple. 

It took thousands of mollusks to make only an ounce of dye.  Because of this, purple cloth was rare and expensive, it was worn only by royalty and rich and important people.  Dealing in luxury goods, Lydia would have owned a nice big house and had the means to support the Christian cause.  Lydia Purpuraria made a good living and she was generous with her earnings and now two thousand years later, we are still grateful for her kindness and the color purple, which helped start the spread of Christianity.

Her feast day is August 3.