companion" for the new millennium
an elementary school student in Narragansett, Rhode Island, I read
a wonderful collection of biographies for children. These orange-covered
books told about great Americans like Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton,
Abigail Adams, PT Barnum, General Grant, Thomas Edison and Harriet
Tubman. I loved those great men and women who struggled to make their
dreams come true. They inspired me and they became my friends and
teachers; I wanted to be like them.
I had a different reaction when I first read stories of saints. At
age ten, someone gave me an old biography of St. Therese of Lisieux.
I read several times and concluded I probably wouldn't have liked
her. Other stories about holy people had much the same effect on me
-- I couldn't relate to them.
Role of Women Saints
though, I am rediscovering the saints and their role in the church.
These compelling stories, especially the stories of women, interest
me more than my ten-year-old self ever would have believed.
interest in the saints has caused women, especially, to lose something
valuable. "When the saints go marching out" the Church's
feminine face, as presented in Mary and other holy women, vanishes.
our awareness of saints provides another way of relating our faith
to our daily lives. They enable women to relate to the Church as women.
Women saints have always fulfilled an important role in the communion
of saints, and because they do, it is one of the most inclusive groupings
or categories in the Church. It is open to everybody. No one is disqualified,
not even women. Indeed, the First Eucharistic Prayer, the ancient
Roman Canon, calls seven women our "saintly companions".
(Their names are Cecilia, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes,
The stories of women saints should be told.
first Christian martyrs
Cecilia, an early saint
Lawrence, the deacon
Sebastian, the soldier saint act
with Compassion front