Saint Damaris of Athens

Saint Damaris was the first Athenian woman to believe in Christ, through the preaching of the Apostle Paul. She is mentioned in Acts 17:34: “Some men joined him and believed; among whom were both Dionysios the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.”

The name Damaris (“heifer”) is not Greek, but may be a Hellenized form of the Hebrew name Thamar (“palm tree”). The name Thamar appears in both the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 38:6, and Matthew 1:3). From her name, it may be inferred that Saint Damaris was not a Greek by nationality, but she may have been a Jewish woman who moved to Athens.

After Saint Paul left Beroia and visited Athens in the year 52 AD, Saint Damaris had the opportunity to hear him preach Christianity to the Athenians on the Areopagus. Only a few people accepted Saint Paul’s message, but Saint Damaris was one of them. We do not know anything for certain concerning her life beyond that. Some have speculated that she came from a wealthy Jewish family of social prominence, but there is no documentation of this. Neither is there any concrete evidence for the opinion of some patristic writers, and of Saint Dimitry of Rostov, that she was married to Saint Dionysios the Areopagite, or that they were baptized by Saint Paul, together with their two sons, and their entire household.