Candace was apparently a title for the empresses of ancient Ethiopia or Meroë, though it is often recorded as a personal name. "Candace" is a Romanized form -- the original was closer to "Kandake." Apparently female sovereignty reigned in the region at that time; at least three Candaces have a place in history.

In 332 B.C., the conquering armies of Alexander the Great swept over the ancient world, but the woman ruling Ethiopia at that time was known as such a good military tactician and commander that although Alexander had conquered Egypt to the north, he stopped at the border and did not even try for Ethiopia; he would not risk defeat by a woman.

Some centuries later, Roman historians say one of the empresses, Candace Amanirenas, made war around 22 B.C. on the Roman governor of Egypt, who defeated her and destroyed Napata, her capital. (Other sources say the Roman governor invaded her country.) She had to sue for peace from the Roman, Petronius, but she had sacked the city of Cyrene in the meantime, and defaced a statue of Augustus Caesar. She lost an eye in battle but it did not stop her; the treaty of peace was broken within a few years with more battles.

Another Candace is famous for her treasurer or chamberlain having been converted to Christianity by the Apostle Philip (Acts 8); legend has it that when her servant returned, he converted the empress to Christianity and thus the religion was spread throughout the area south of Egypt. This empress became St. Candace in the Orthodox Christian church of the area.