For centuries, many Christian women have lived lives of great faith. Most are not recognized outside their communities, but some have been formally recognized for their faith and devotion. Around the 10th century, a process of canonization, the recognition and procedure to name a saint, was put in place. Within the Catholic church the process of canonization still exists today. We hope you will be inspired by these stories of women whose faith and devotion has changed the world. It was quite a challenge to select a few to feature to narrow our list, we focused on saints after Biblical times.
Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of music. She lived during the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. As a young woman, Cecilia was forced to marry despite wanting to devote her life to God. On her wedding, it said that she sang her heart to God. In her lifetime, Cecilia converted hundreds to Christianity. She was executed for her faith.
Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656, in the Mohawk village of what is now New York State. Her mother was an Algonquin who was married to a Mohawk chief. When Kateria was four, small pox devastated her village and left Kateri orphaned and her face disfigured. She converted to Roman Catholicism at age 19. She suffered for her faith and traveled 200 miles on foot to a community of Christian Native Americans in Canada where she died only a few years later. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is the patron saint of the environment.
Therese of Lisieux was born in 1873. Her mother died when she was only 4 and Therese turned to prayer to help guide her. She joined the convent and became a Carmelite nun at 15 where she fell ill with tuberculosis. She died at 24. In her short and blessed life, Therese, endured much pain and sorrow but she explained that it was impossible to suffer because suffering had become so sweet to her. She died having lived as cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She is often called "The Little Flower."
Saint Agatha is the patron saint of breast cancer. She was was born in Sicily and was imprisoned and then tortured for her faith. In the midst of great pain she had a healing vision of St. Peter. It is said that her last words were this prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive my soul."
Saint Maria Goretti was born on October 16, 1890 in the province of Italy. She was born into a very poor family that worked hard to make ends meet and devoted their lives to God. Tragically, when Maria was only 12, she was attacked by a neighbor. She fought back and he stabbed her several times. When Maria’s family returned they took her to the nearest hospital where she regained consciousness and said that she forgave her attacker. Her attacker was sentenced to 30 years but was unrepentant until he had a dream of Maria that reformed his life. Saint Maria is one of the youngest canonized saints.
Saint Catherine was born in Siena, Italy in 1347. At the young age of six, Catherine began having mystical experiences, often seeing guardian angels. Later she had visions of Christ, Mary and the saints. She cut her hair and fasted to avoid marriage. When she was 21 she had a mystical marriage to Christ as pictured above. Catherine visited hospitals, petitioned for peace, established a monastery and composed over 400 letters and influential prayers. St. Catherine's feast day is celebrated on April 29.
Saint Clare was born in Assisi, Italy in 1194. After hearing St. Francis of Assisi preach on Palm Sunday, she joined the Franciscans and later formed a group with other woman who were known as the "Poor Ladies of San Damiano." They lived a simple life of poverty, austerity and seclusion. She is often pictured carrying a monstrance or pyx, to commemorate the time she warded off the soldiers at the gates of her convent with the Blessed Sacrament. St. Clare's feast day is celebrated on August 11.
St. Faustina is the patron saint of Divine Mercy. She was born in Poland in 1905. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy whose mission is the poor and education. While serving the Lord, she received a message to spread His mercy to the world. She wrote about the mercy of God in her Diary which is now published. Divine Mercy is celebrated by the Roman Catholic church and other Christians on the Sunday after Easter. The feast day of St. Faustina is celebrated on Oct. 5.
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