When Saint Paul was at Troas, he had a vision in a dream of a certain Macedonian, who asked him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). Paul heeded this voice as if it were the voice of God, and decided to journey to Macedonia without delay, accompanied by fellow apostles Timothy, Silas, and Luke.
They disembarked at Neapolis and made their way to Philippi. On the outskirts of Philippi, on the banks of a river, there was a Jewish place of prayer. Since it was the Sabbath, the apostles, as was their custom, went in to pray. There, Saint Paul preached the Gospel of Christ to the women who had gathered there. This marked the first instance of Paul preaching the Gospel in Europe.
The God-fearing women listened to the words of this unknown Jewish man carefully and with reverence. The one who was most enthusiastic was Lydia, a businesswoman from Thyatira, a seller of purple cloth (which was very expensive). As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to heed the words that were being spoken by Saint Paul. When she heard him talk about the Messiah, she accepted the truth of what he said and she believed in Christ.
Saint Lydia and her entire household were baptized in the waters of a nearby river. Thus, she became the first convert in Europe to be enrolled as a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Her heart was filled with gratitude toward those who had opened the eyes of her soul, and so she asked them to accept the hospitality of her house, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home” (Acts 16:15).
The Orthodox Church honors Saint Lydia as an Equal of the Apostles, and at the place of her baptism on the banks of the Zygaktos River, a baptistery has been built, which is similar to the early Christian basilicas of Philippi.
Through the prayers of Saint Lydia, O Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and save us.