Today is All Saints Day …
The day in the church year in which we remember (that is, reconnect ourselves with) the faithful sisters and brothers in Christ who have gone before us.
Below you will find a selection of resources on our site that will help you connect to the stories of the saints. We recommend learning about a saint or two that you know little or nothing about…
Here are brief introductions to ten women saints (I use this term loosely to include other prominent women of faith, not just those who have been canonized by the Roman Catholic church) that you should be very familiar with. There are so many more faithful women that could have been included on this list. With the focus here on history, I have limited myself to saints who have lived prior to 1900.
St. Hildegard was not only a prominent mystic and theologian, she also was a composer. Her works are reminiscent of the tradition of Gregorian chant, and will appeal to those who appreciate medieval chants.
Seven Martyred Monks of Gafsa: Liberatus, Boniface, Servus, Rusticus, Rogatus, Septimus, and Maximus. Martyred 483 A.D. Today (August 17) is the traditional feast day for these seven martyred monks. This is their story…
Aquinas was an astute student of the first millennium of Christian theology, and his works have been read over the intervening centuries as a solid representation of the Christian theological tradition. Over the last century, the theological witness of Aquinas has dimmed a bit (as has the project of systematic theology that he initiated), but agree with him or not, his influence on Christian theology, but also Western philosophy and culture cannot be ignored.
Dymphna resisted the incestuous sexual abuse and advances of her father, and ultimately her resistance infuriated her father to the point of him beheading her. Although she lived in a very different era than our twenty-first century world, Dymphna’s adamant resistance to this sexual abuse makes her a striking candidate for a patron saint of the #MeToo movement.
Saint Brendan of Clonfert (c. AD 484 – c. 577), called “the Navigator”, “the Voyager”, “the Anchorite”, and “the Bold”, is one of the early Irish monastic saints and one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. He is primarily renowned for his legendary quest to the “Isle of the Blessed”, also denominated “Saint Brendan’s Island”. READ J.R.R. Tolkien’s Poem, “The Death of St. Brendan”
St. Aelred’s most familiar extant work is On Spiritual Friendship (read an excerpt here), a work that some have interpreted as a paean to same-sex love.
Here are three poems by the saint from Hippo. *** You might also enjoy Longfellow’s poem “The Ladder of St. Augustine”
St. Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296–298 – 2 May 373), also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria (as Athanasius I). His episcopate lasted 45 years (c. 8 June 328 – 2 May 373), of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. He is considered to be a renowned Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.
“Charity is the cement which binds communities to God and persons to one another ” – St. Vincent DePaul
Which stories of saints have been most formative for you on your journey of faith?
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
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