Lydia (fl. 53 CE)
Lydia (fl. 53 ce)
Biblical woman who was the first Christian convert in Europe. Name variations: Lydia of Thyatira. Born in Thyatira on the border of Lydia in Asia Minor.
A prosperous businesswoman from the city of Thyatira (she sold purple-dyed cloth, for which the city was known), Lydia was converted to Christianity by the apostle Paul and is considered the first Christian convert in Europe. Her story is recorded in Acts.
Around the year 55, Paul was making a voyage to Macedonia and stopped in the Roman colony of Philippi, where he stayed for several days. On the Sabbath, he ventured outside the city gates to preach to a group of women who had assembled near the river to pray. Lydia, identified as a proselyte, a worshipper of the true God, was among the group that had gathered. Opening her heart to Paul's message, she was baptized that very day along with her entire household. Afterwards, eager to hear more about the Messiah, she issued an invitation to Paul and his companions to lodge at her home, which he accepted.
After Paul left Philippi, he continued to communicate with Lydia through letters, which she treasured and memorized. After her conversion, she lost interest in her successful business, and used her money to spread the new faith.
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