Friday, July 6, 2012

Real Women, Real Saints: a review

   Gina Loehr's book Real Women, Real Saints collects short biographies of 100 women saints, divided according to the seven cardinal virtues: women of hope, faith, temperance, etc. By selecting women from throughout Christian history, and highlighting how their lives demonstrate a particular virtue well-lived, Ms. Loehr helps us to discover these virtues in our lives. However, given that the author emphasizes so much the ordinary beginnings of these women, I do wish that there had been room in the synopses for more discussions of how conflicts were faced and overcome, for example Saint Monica's arranged marriage to a non-Christian, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton's early widowhood, or Saint Therese of Lisieux's debilitating illness. Such stories of courage in the face of adversity can be as valuable as examples of virtue perfected.
     I also really liked her review of the stages of canonization; while most biographies are of canonized saints, women whose causes are at stages from servant of God to venerable to beatified are included. This reminds us of the process through which we recognize saints today, and helps us to see their virtue grounded in the everyday world.  A page and half biography is not long enough for more than a brief overview of these remarkable women's lives. However, the book could serve as a helpful springboard for those choosing their confirmation saint or patron for a new baby, as well as those seeking inspiration or guidance on prayer for a particular intercession. The collection is potentially also useful for someone wishing to focus their reflection on a particular virtue, as it has 10-15 examples of how others sought to live out each cardinal virtue.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to anyone seeking to learn more about some of the diverse women included in the Church's calendar of saints.

I wrote this review of Real Women, Real Saints for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. Aquinas and More is the largest on-line Catholic bookstore. I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

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