Fratres, mulier mali causa, peccati auctor, via mortis, sepulcri titulus, inferni ianua, lamenti necessitas tota: ob hoc nascuntur lacrimis, mancipantur maeroribus, gemitibus addicuntur, et in lamentis tantum fortes sunt, quantum viribus inveniuntur infirmae: et quantum imparatae sunt ad labores, tantum ad lacrimas sunt paratae: hinc est quod lacrimis arma vincunt, regna fletibus inclinant, lamentis totam fortitudinem virorum frangunt. non est ergo mirum, si ad lacrimas, ad funus, ad sepulcrum, ad obsequium Dominici corporis feminae ardentiores apostolis hic videntur; ubi mulier prima currit ad lacrimas, quae prima cucurrit ad lapsum; praecedit ad sepulcrum, quae praecessit ad mortem; fit resurrectionis nuntia, quae fuit mortis interpres; et quae viro porrexerat interitus tanti nuntium, viris ipsa porrigit magnae salutis auditum, ut compenset fidei nuntio quod perfidiae ademit auditu. non est hic praeposterus ordo, sed mysticus; non postponuntur apostoli feminis, sed ad maiora servantur; feminae obsequium Christi suscipiunt, apostoli Christi suscipiunt passiones; illae portant aromata, isti flagella; illae intrant sepulcrum, isti carcerem; illae ad obsequium festinant, isti pervolant ad catenas; infundunt illae oleum, isti sanguinem fundunt: mortem stupent illae, suscipiunt hi mortes. et quid multa? resident illae domi, ad acies isti tendunt, ut devoti milites probent adversis fidem, virtutem laboribus, iniuriis patientiam, periculis mortem, vulneribus tolerantiam, devotionem poenis, viscerum laceratione constantiam. mulieres ergo ferunt pro Christo lacrimas; apostoli, diabolo superato et victis hostibus, Christo et victoriam referunt, et triumphum.
(Petrus Chrysologus, Serm. 79.2-3)
Brothers, woman is the source of evil, the author of sin, the way of death, the reason for the grave, hell’s entryway, and the whole explanation of the need for lamentation. For this reason they are born with tears, they are delivered with sadness, they are brought forth with groans, and they are as strong in lamentation as they are found to be weak in strength; and they are as unequipped for labors as they are equipped for tears. Thus it is that they conquer arms with tears, they fell kingdoms with their weeping, and they break all the strength of men with their lamentation. And so it is no wonder if the women here* seem more ardent than the apostles for tears, the burial place, the grave, and for paying reverence to the Lord’s body, when a woman is the first to proceed to tears, since she was the first to fall into guilt; she leads the way to the grave, since she led the way to death; she becomes the messenger of the Resurrection, since she was the agent of death; and she who had brought the man the message of such destruction, herself brings men the announcement of great salvation, in order to compensate with her message of faith for what she took away by her faithless announcement.
* The author is discussing Luke 24:1-3: “The women went to the tomb in the very early morning of the first day of the week, carrying the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and when they went in they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
(tr. William B. Palardy)