Women Saints who Show Our Many Womanly Vocations – EpicPew

Women Saints who Show Our Many Womanly Vocations

Is there a current topic more controversial and more misunderstood than the Church’s stance on women? Recent internet trends around “tradwives”, what certain football players choose to say about motherhood, and ecclesial tensions about deaconesses all have this theme in common: women in the Church.

The Church teaches that all are called to sanctity but not necessarily to marriage and physically bearing and caring for children. The specific vocation of women involves, as St. John Paul II called it, “feminine genius”.

“[I]n giving themselves to others each day women fulfil their deepest vocation. Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts.”

Letter to Women

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, or Edith Stein, as she was known before she entered religious life, wrote a lot about women and their role. She said:

“Each woman who lives in the light of eternity can fulfill her vocation no matter if it is in marriage, in a religious order or in a worldly profession.”

St. Teresa Benedicta

Here are 7 holy women who showcase various ways to live in that light and fulfill our deepest vocation as a Catholic woman in the modern world.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla: The Working Mom

St. Gianna is known for prioritizing the life of her unborn child over her own. She was also a doctor, a working mom. She studied medicine and specialized in pediatrics, opening a practice before even meeting her husband. Her brother was a missionary priest and she wished to join him in Brazil and serve as a doctor there. Though she was unable to do direct missionary work, Gianna remained a dedicated doctor even amidst raising her children. Just as she put her child abover her own life we can presume she put her family above her career, prioritizing the primary vocation God gave her.

Bl. Guadalupe Ortiz: The Consecrated Single

Via Prelatura de la Santa Cruz y Opus Dei on Flickr

Many women throughout the Church’s history have given up the natural call and joys of marriage and motherhood. In turn, they embrace their call to holiness and live a vocation of spiritual motherhood. For Bl. Guadalupe Ortiz she did this through her work with Opus Dei with university students and as a teacher. She had an interest in Chemistry and attained a doctoral degree. She knew and worked with St. Josemaria and helped to begin the work of Opus Dei in Mexico. Her dedication to her studies and to apostolate was grounded in her love of God.

Chiara Corbella Pertillo: The Sacrificial Mom

Servant of God Chiara Corbella Portillo only recently passed from her vocation to her heavenly reward in 2012. Her cause is currently under investigation. As a young wife, Chiara’s first two children were discovered in utero to have serious malformations that would not allow them to live long past birth. In both cases, Chiara and her husband, Enrico, choose to continue the pregnancy. Chiara delivered two children a little over a year apart who each died shortly after being born and baptized. When Chiara became pregnant for the third time her son was found to be perfectly healthy. However, during the pregnancy she learned she had cancer. She chose to delay part of her treatment in order to give her son the best chance for life outside the womb. After he was born, Chiara was found to be terminal. She died about a year after he was born.

St. Gemma Galgani: Single in the World

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Gemma wanted to become a religious sister but her poor health made this impractical. She never married or dedicated herself to any particular career. Yet, God chose her and used her. She was granted numerous mystical experiences including visions of her guardian angel, ecstasies in prayer, and the stigmata. She died at just 25 years old of tuberculosis.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: The Mother-Turned-Religious-Sister

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Born a Protestant, Elizabeth Seton grew up in New York. She married and had five children. Her husband William, however, became ill. Despite traveling to Italy in an attempt to recover his health, Elizabeth’s husband passed away in 1803. Inspired by the compassion she was shown in Italy as well as a draw towards Mary and the Eucharist, Elizabeth became a Catholic. She went on to found America’s first women religious order and the first free Catholic school in the country. She made vows with the order and became known as Mother Seton while continuing to raise her children.

St. Zelie Martin: The Work from Home Mom

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St. Zelie is best known for as wife of the also-canonized St. Louis and mother of St. Therese. However, Zelie was also a successful lacemaker who showed great kindness to the women she employed. Her husband even joined her in the enterprise, selling his own watchmaking business to work with Zelie in their home in Alencon. The couple had nine children, four of whom died in infancy. She herself passed away at 45 years old from breast cancer. Her primary concern throughout her life was to make her children saints.

St. Therese: the Religious Sister

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Like her mother, St. Therese lived her vocation with dedication. She was so confident in her calling to religious life that when both the convent’s superior and the local bishop told her to wait until she was older to enter, Therese spoke to the Pope himself. She had been told to remain silent during the audience and was subsequently carried out by guards. Despite this dramatic moment, her life, in many ways, was an ordinary life. She entered the same cloistered convent as two of her sisters had before her and spent the last nine years of her short life withdrawn from the world. Yet, her love for God and her little way of sanctity have inspired numerous women and men through her biography The Story of Soul which was published after her death.

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