During the first century, Thyatira was famous for its dye works. It was most especially known for it work with the valuable color purple used to make cloth and garments for the rich and royalty. It is there Lydia must of have learned this trade.
Her trade may have been dye works but her vocation was hospitality. A woman of faith, Lydia became Paul's first convert in Philippi.
We learn of her story from the Bible passage of Acts 16:13-18,40.
Earlier in Acts 16:10, Paul receives a vision that God is calling him to preach the gospel in Macedonia. Heeding this call, Paul, Silas and Timothy set out from Troas across the Aegean Sea to Neapolis and eventually Philippi in Macedonia which was considered the gateway to Europe.
It is in Philippi that Paul encounters Lydia who is working or in some way connected to purple-sellers.
"...on the sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay."" (Acts 16:13-15)
The Navarre Bible commentary has this to say about this passage: "This brief and beautiful episode shows a drama of the divine gift of vocation and a grateful human response. It is God who opens this woman's heart, for "no one can give his assent to the Gospel message in a truly salvific way except it be by the light and inspiration of the Holy Spirit...The first fruit of Christianity in Europe is the response of this woman to her calling." (pg. 512)
Saint Lydia served the Lord through her gift of hospitality welcoming Paul and his companions into her home.
Saint Lydia, pray for us.
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