As we celebrate the feast of a particularly awesome mom, St. Monica, enjoy this list of other awesome moms who are canonized saints or blesseds. These women show us the grit and grace needed to fulfill the vocation of raising saints.
1. St. Monica
You can’t control your kids but you can pray for them
St. Monica’s only son was a hedonistic young man with an illegitimate child of his own. Through her prayers and example he converted, becoming a priest and bishop as well as one of the most renowned theologians of all time. What changed Augustine’s heart was not his mother dragging him to Mass or nagging him to get to confession it was her constant prayer for his conversion and the fruit it bore in his life.
2. St. Zelie
Children are a beautiful fruit of marriage
When Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin were first married they discerned to live as brother and sister in a Josephite marriage. However, after almost a year of celibacy, a wise priest advised them otherwise. The couple opened their hearts and embraced this new way of life. Zelie gave birth to nine children though four of them died as young children. Still, the couple remained open ad thankfully so. Their youngest would be St. Therese of Lisieux.
3. St. Gianna Molla
Being a mother means putting your children before yourself
Motherhood goes hand in hand with sacrifice. From the very beginning, children need their mother’s support. While in the womb they rely on her entirely. St. Gianna knew this well, being a doctor. While pregnant with her fourth child, Gianna developed a uterine fibroma. She refused any measures that resulted in her child’s death and opted to only have the fibroma removed. Despite pain and complications, Gianna endured it choosing to do what she could to save her child. Gianna gave birth to a healthy daughter but a week later she herself passed away. Because of her insistence on carrying her child, Gianna wound up sacrificing her own life.
4. St. Anne
Children belong to God, not us
According to tradition Anne and her husband Joachim waited years for a child and were considered to be too old when they were blessed with a daughter, the Virgin Mary. Three years later, they gave their pride and joy back to God by presenting her to live in the temple. The story goes that Mary then lived in the temple until she hit puberty and was betrothed to St. Joseph. Anne was willing to give her daughter up so that she could serve God more directly in the Temple.
5. Bl. Anna Maria Taigi
Even mothers can be called to great intimacy with God
To anyone who passed her on the street, Bl. Anna Maria Taigi looked like an ordinary Italian housewife. Her husband Dominic was rough and even verbally abusive but she learned what calmed him down. Together they had seven children. Beyond that, Anna Maria’s life was anything but ordinary. She was blessed in a special way, able to heal the sick and predict the future. She was called to great intimacy and favor with God despite being someone the world would see as ordinary.
6. & 7. Sts. Perpetua and Felicity
There is a call higher than motherhood
Perpetua was a Christian living during the time of the Roman persecutions. She and her servant Felicity were arrested for their faith. Felicity was eight months pregnant and Perpetua had an infant son from whom she was initially separated. Family tried to get Perpetua to recant her Christianity so she could be freed but Perpetua refused to renounce Christ. Even though her son was brought to her, it was to be only for a short time before she faced her execution and had to give him up completely. Felicity, on the other hand was hopeful she would give birth soon as it was illegal to execute pregnant women and she was afraid her companions would go to heir reward without her. A few days before the appointed day for execution, she went into labor and delivered her child in the prison cell. Both of these women were no strangers to the sacrifices of motherhood but each chose their faith over staying with their child. They chose to die for Christ even though it meant not being able to live for their children.
8. St. Marie of the Incarnation
Our children may not always understand what we do when we do God’s will
Marie always had a draw towards prayer and religious life. However, she was forced to enter an arranged marriage when she was seventeen. The couple had one child, a son, before Marie’s husband passed away just two years after their wedding. Marie refused to get remarried and lived a life of prayer and charity. When her son was about twelve years old, Marie left him in the care of her sister and brother in law and went to join the Ursuline sisters. Her son, Claude, however, was not pleased. He gathered a group of friends and tried to rescue his mother from the convent. The dramatic show of affection was unsuccessful. Ten years later Claude would follow his mother’s example and enter religious life becoming a Benedictine priest.
9. St. Elizabeth
God’s plan is better than ours
St. Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were another biblical couple thought to be barren. When an angel appeared to Zechariah announcing the birth of a son he questioned the divine messenger and was struck mute because of it. Elizabeth, on the other hand, accepted God’s word and his plan. Her son in his adulthood went and lived in the wilderness, preached repentance, and was eventually beheaded for defending marriage. Elizabeth had likely dealt with scorn and judgement from her neighbors because of the couple’s barrenness but what God had planned was so much more than she could have imagined.
10. St. Margaret Clitherow
Being a woman of faith is the best thing we can do for our children
St. Margaret of Clitherow and her husband John were blessed with three children. Margaret was raised Protestant but after her marriage became Catholic. This was a dangerous move in Elizabethan England. It was illegal to openly practice the Catholic faith and priests were arrested. Margaret’s husband had to pay fines because his wife didn’t attend protestant services. Meanwhile their house became a meeting spot for Catholics to attend Mass as Margaret often hid priests from the authorities. She was eventually arrested and sentenced to death. Following their mother’s martyrdom, all three of Margaret’s children went on to have religious vocations, following her in her love for God.
11. The Blessed Virgin Mary
This list would not be complete without the Queen of the Saints. Our Mother is the prime example of a holy mother. She follows God, sacrifices for her Child, practiced great intimacy with the Lord, and recognizes the gift of her Son. Mary teaches us perfectly what being a mother is all about.