The Big Book of Women Saints
by Sarah Gallick
NY: Harper Collins, 2007
Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
The wonderful thing about learning about the saints is that there are so many of them, each person is bound to find someone she can relate to and look up to as a positive example. In "The Big Book of Women Saints," Sarah Gallick has done a tremendous job of bringing together information about 500 women saints. While all the famous women saints are included, there are also many who are relatively unknown. Gallick divides her book into a reading for each day (some days feature groups of saints such as the four martyrs of Wangla featured on June 28th). This set-up makes it very easy to read and reflect on a life of a saint every day.
In the "Introduction," Gallick describes the canonization process for Catholic saints, a process not formalized until the 10th century. Prior to this saints were "recognized by popular acclamation, which was later confirmed by the local bishops." Interestingly enough, the first woman officially canonized by the Vatican was Wiborada of Saint Gall in 1047. She is featured on May 2. Gallick goes on to state that each of the women profiled in this book "shared a unique quality that has been called the feminine genius." Indeed, on each day's profile, Gallick includes a description of that woman's particular genius, the example she offers to each of us as we travel along our spiritual journey. Another helpful portion of "The Big Book of Women Saints" is the "Annotated Sources and Web Sites" which lists each saint and offers sources for further study about that person. She also provides a general bibliography.
"The Big Book of Women Saints" is a fascinating book, unique for the number of women saints Gallick profiles. It would be a wonderful companion throughout the year to learn more about these women who, coming from a variety of circumstances, have all had a profound effect on the Church and their respective communities. Their stories also provide hope and inspiration for all of us trying to live holy lives.
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is editor of Spiritual Woman and author of Letters to Mary from a Young Mother. She has a Master
of Arts Degree in Applied Theology from Elms College. Visit her blog at http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com