(in certain Protestant churches) a woman belonging to an order or sisterhood dedicated to the care of the sick or poor or who is engaging in other social-service duties, as teaching or missionary work.
a woman elected by a church to assist the clergy.
Origin: 1530–40; earlier deaconisse, part translation, part adoption of Late Latindiāconissa, feminine of diāconusdeacon; see -ess
Rom. 16:1, 3, 12; Phil. 4:2, 3; 1 Tim. 3:11; 5:9, 10; Titus 2:3, 4). In these passages it is evident that females were then engaged in various Christian ministrations. Pliny makes mention of them also in his letter to Trajan (A.D. 110).