Wordtrade LogoWordtrade.com

Religion Christianity


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Wordtrade LogoWordtrade.com


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints Revised by Matthew Bunson, Margaret Bunson, Stephen Bunson, Timothy M. Dolan (Our Sunday Visitor) The Encyclopedia of Saints by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (Facts on File) compete as comprehensive, single-volume reference to the fascinating lives of holy men and women of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Drawing on extensive research, they each offer detailed accounts of the lives and experiences of more than 400 principal saints, from early martyrs such as Lucy of Syracuse to recently canonized saints such as Katherine Drexel. Entries provide a biographical overview, a record of the saint's religious journeys and mystical experiences, a discussion of personal philosophies and important theological influences, as well as his or her patronage, feast days and popular role within the Church. Entries include extensive appendices include information on patron saints by topic, a calendar of feast days, beatified and canonized popes, an explanation of the canonization process, a glossary of terms and a glossary of heresies. The Encyclopedia of Saints brings to light both the religious heroism and colorful, little-known facts of the lives of saints for a comprehensive, in-depth exploration of sainthood.

  • Blessed Andre Bessette

  • Catherine of Sweden

  • Anselm

  • Elizabeth Ann Seton

  • John of the Cross

  • Rose of Lima

  • Thomas Aquinas

  • Blessed Padre Pio

  • Pope Gregory I

  • Jerome

Excerpt: My long-standing interest in saints came to a turning point in 1997 after an unexpected, spontaneous and deeply moving experience.

In the spring of that year, I traveled to Montreal to speak at a conference. Montreal is home to St. Joseph's Oratory, a magnificent structure built on Mount Royal, a small mountain within the city environs. It is a healing shrine, the world's largest pilgrimage center dedicated to St. Joseph. Some 2 million people of all faiths from all over the world come here every year to pray for the intercession of a remarkable saint, Blessed Brother Andre, whose tomb lies within the oratory. One Sunday, I visited the oratory and joined a large throng of people lined up to pay their respects at the tomb. I came with no particular purpose other than to see the oratory and witness others. I didn't even know much about the life of Brother Andre. What happened to me there caused me to learn about his life and miraculous healing work.

Brother Andre was born Alfred Bessette in a village east of Montreal in 1845 to a poor and humble family. He was small and of delicate constitution, and suffered poor health all of his life. In 1870, he sought to enter the Congregation of the Holy Cross, a religious order dedicated to the teaching profession. The order accepted him despite his lack of education, and gave him the lowly job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Mount Royal. He took the name Andre in honor of his sponsor, Pastor Andre Provencal.

Brother Andre spent much of his time in prayer. When he was off-duty, he visited the sick. Miraculous cures were attributed to him and he soon became renowned as the "Wonder Man of Mount Royal." People came from afar to see him. He always credited the cures to the intercession of his patron saint, Joseph.

Brother Andre's ability was not greeted with warmth within his own religious community. Some were skeptical and even opposed him. The quiet little man persevered, always within the requirements of authority, and finally realized his great dream to build an oratory in honor of St. Joseph. It began with a tiny chapel on Mount Royal in 1904. Over the years, donations in honor of Brother Andre have enabled expansions. The present basilica is the tallest point in Montreal, and holds 3,000 people.

Brother Andre died in 1937 and was beatified in 1987 by Pope John Paul II (r. 1978- ). His death did not end his healing work. As millions of pilgrims attest, his intercession from beyond the grave enables continuing miracles of divine healing.

Brother Andre's heart is on view as a relic, encased in a clear glass container in the oratory. But the real attraction, the real power center, is his small black granite tomb, called the Black Coffin. Pilgrims come to touch the tomb and pray for healing.

So there I was this one Sunday morning, filing into the small alcove that contains the tomb. Outside the alcove, candlelight flickered over the high walls filled with the canes and crutches people had thrown away after miraculous healings there.

The tomb itself was small, plain and unadorned. The simplicity of its surroundings certainly gave no hint that therein lay the remains of a miracle healer revered around the world. Someone had placed a single red rose atop the tomb. People waited for a turn to touch the black granite while others crowded around them. At last I maneuvered to the front and placed both palms on top of the tomb.

When I touched the tomb, I felt a burning begin in the center of my chest. It astonished me. The feeling intensified, as though my heart center were on fire. This feeling

of fiery heat radiated out to the rest of my body, growing stronger, until I felt as though I were enveloped in invisible flames. I felt strangely unable to move. As I stood riveted to the tomb, it came to me that I was touching the Heart of God, experiencing the burning fire of true unconditional love. It was flowing into me as a heat and fire that literally were burning away imperfections in me. Layer upon layer peeled away. The intensity and brilliance of this radiance were overwhelming.

Suddenly I understood that there is a difference between love and unconditional love. Love heals, nurtures, nourishes and sustains. Unconditional love purifies. This difference is at once subtle and profound; at once infinitesimal and vast. I was being purified in some way by unconditional love.

The burning sensation lasted as long as I held my hands on the tomb. I remained swept up in a rapture equal to that of any saint. I have never felt so much in the presence of God.

Afterward, the only thing I was capable of doing was walking into an adjoining chapel, where I wept and prayed, and tried to understand what I had just experienced.

On my last day in Montreal, I returned to the oratory. I was anxious to touch the Black Coffin again. I desired that incredible fire that had taken me into the presence of God. It was a weekday, with few people about, and so this time I had the entire alcove to myself. But when I touched the tomb again there was no burning. Instead I felt a deep and soft inner radiance. It was another extraordinary experience, but of a different sort.

In retrospect, I realized that of course I would not experience the same fire. A mystical experience is unique and not repeated. The expansion of consciousness that comes from it is needed only once.

What was the source of the power that facilitated such an experience? How can a holy person continue, from the other side of death, as a channel for divine grace? I do not know the answers, but only continue to explore the mystery. Was I changed? Yes. Like the experience itself, I was changed in both subtle and profound ways. I did not feel that I had become "holy" or anything of the sort. And though I felt "stuff" burned off of me, I still possessed the same flaws and shortcomings. But I have a much different awareness of love now, and of the importance of bringing love to its highest and purest expression, that of unconditional love.

This experience joins the records of countless other transformative experiences had by people the world over when they come into the presence of saints. As I mentioned at the beginning, I had already long been interested in saints as part of my study of mysticism. This experience with Brother Andre propelled me into a deeper study of both.

What exactly is sainthood? The Roman Catholic Church has a formal process of canonization for recognizing the holiest of the holy as saints-saints are not "made" but simply honored for their achievements. The Church thoroughly examines a candidate's life and works, and requires validation of at least two posthumous miracles. But fewer than 300 of the 10,000 or so documented saints throughout history have been canonized (Brother Andre has been beatified, a step that precedes canonization). The rest have achieved a saint status by popular acclaim. They are venerated locally. Some, popular once upon a time, have disappeared altogether from current devotion. And some belong more to legend than to history.

A saint's sanctity and purity, as well as writings and acts of charity and sacrifice, certainly are important considerations to formal sainthood. But what drives the popular interest and devotion is belief in the power of the saint to bring help and healing to the living. Some saints are important to the Church for their treatises and works on theology and philosophy. The people, however, look for miracles. We the public are drawn to saints because of the mystery around them: their rich inner lives of mystical and visionary experience, and their ability to work wonders and miracles.

There are too many saints to put them all in a single volume. In this book, I have made a selection of saints who have made important contributions to the Church and to society, especially in education, charity and health care. Among these are towering figures such as St. Thomas Aquinas, who shaped the development of Western philosophy. I have also included some of the early martyrs and legendary figures, as well as church fathers, church doctors and beatified and canonized popes. I have paid special attention to the inner, mystical lives of saints and to their miracles, for here is where we come closest to the Mystery.

I keep Brother Andre's picture at my desk, and carry some of the little medallions of him that the oratory sells, including one that contains a tiny piece of relic. They are links not so much to the man, but to what he and other`saints represent: that miracles are made possible by a heart that loves.

The Quotable Saint by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (Facts on File) Drawing on the wisdom of more than 100 saints, The Quotable Saint presents a fascinating collection of inspirational words and sayings. Grouped according to more than 250 topics, the quotations consider every aspect of life and spirituality, from anger, angels, and understanding to children, charity, and love, as well as many others, such as

  • Christ

  • Creation

  • " Desires "

  • Faith

  • Friendship

  • Grace

  • Grief

  • Heaven

  • Miracles

  • Poverty

  • Prayer

  • Righteousness

Taken from the writings and speeches of men and women canonizedl beatified, or declared venerable by the church, as well as those considered saints through martyrdom or by acclaim, the text is meant to engage the heart, mind, and soul. Individuals quoted include

  • W Ambrose

  • " Thomas Aquinas '

  •  Augustine "

  • Francis de Sales

  • W Vincent de Paul

  • Josemaria Escriva

  • Hildegard of Binges

  • Ignatius of Loyola

  • Faustina Kowalska

  • Padre Pio

  • *' Teresa of Avila

  • ' Therese of Lisieux "

  • Elizabeth Seton

  • W Edith Stein '

  • Francis Xavier

Special features include an appendix of short biographies of the saints and an extensive bibliography. The Quotable Saint is a rich and enlightening resource for readers seeking the insight and wisdom of holy men and women through the ages.

The Quotable Saint is organized alphabetically by topic. Some of the long entries, such as CHRIST, GOD, and PRAYER, are subdivided into categories, and the subheadings are in alphabetical order. I did not alphabetize the saints by name within topics, in order to provide variety. However, if I used more than one quotation from a particular saint within the same topic, I grouped all those quotations together.

In choosing the material, I sought to provide a broad representation of works and saints, from well-known to lesser-known throughout the history of Christianity. I researched treatises, sermons, orations, books, journals, personal writing, autobiographies, biographies, and diaries of mystical experiences. My primary objective was to find nuggets of wisdom that would resonate with the interests and concerns of daily life in present times, so that this book would be useful, illuminating, and inspiring to the reader. Many lesser-known saints delivered magnificently in that respect, sometimes outshining their more famous associates. The writings of the saints of course reflect their roles and concerns of their own times. For example, many of the towering figures of

early Christianity were focused on refuting heresies and establishing the theology of the church. Mystics were focused on their inner lives, and preachers and missionaries gave their full attention to exhorting people on virtues, vices, sin, and repentance. Some saints were very prolific, while others left behind few written works.

My general definition of saint was those individuals recognized by the church as canonized, beatified, and declared venerable. There are exceptions, such as the hermits, monks, and abbots known as Desert Fathers; the holy men whose writings are compiled in The Philokalia; and individuals considered saints by acclaim or martyrdom. I included Julian of Norwich, whose cause for beatification stalled because of lack of information about her personal life, but whose mystical work, Revelations of Divine Love, is significant.

The words of the saints make them come alive in a vivid way. I hope that through this book the reader can become better acquainted with them, so that they are no longer remote, exalted figures, but wise people we can envision meeting and talking with today.

Beasts and Saints
translated by Helen Waddell
Esther de Waal, editor
Woodcuts by Robert Gibbings
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 255 Jefferson, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
$14.00, paper; 132 pages, illustrated with woodcuts|br> ISBN 0-8028-4223-2

This timely reprint of the 1934 edition of these stories of animals and saints is taken from accounts of the Desert Fathers and the Celtic saints. It was first translated and by the medieval populist, Helen Waddell and is a delight to read and ponder. Editor Esther de Waal acquaints us anew with these august and strange notables of a bygone age. Here we face a wide range of animals, from lions and hyenas, otters and hares, to a mouse, a fly, and a frog. All intimately involved in the lives of saints. Waddell keeps the convoluted syntax of her sources providing a quaint voice and intentionality to these guest's of God's creation. Their relationships with saints such once famous saints as Columba, Jerome, Cuthbert, and Simeon Stylites brings us into the Christian heritage of nature as a guide to revelation and sanctity. Miracles are commonplace and animals share in the snare of the tempter and the exempla of the saint to introduce us to a natural world ruled by imaginative faith. These stories will not only wear down one's imagination but also inspire to retrieve something of the wholeness of the Christian tradition that has been lost. The eye-catching woodcuts by Robert Gibbings delight the eyes too easily focused on immaterial presences.
Helen Waddell, 1889-1965, was born in Tokyo and educated at Belfast and Oxford. She was described as "the Middle Ages most persuasive interpreter" by the president of Columbia University, where she was a Fellow. She also wrote a number of popular the books such as, The Wandering Scholars, The Desert Fathers, Peter Abelard, and More Latin Lyrics from Virgil to Milton.



NOW, among the other virtues with which the Holy Ghost had endowed him, he was a great lover and keeper of evangelic poverty, and so marvelous a despiser of transitory things, that he would have no earthly possessions, nor gifts, nor kept any property of his own at all, unless you could call property three small creatures that Ketinus saith he had in friendliness about him, a Cock, a Mouse, and a Fly. The way that he used the Cock was that its crowing wakened him at night to Lauds, as a bell might. But the offices rendered by the Mouse and the Fly were the stranger and more remarkable in that these whom nature has designed to the fret and annoyance of mankind, the amazing kindness of God directed, against the weight of nature, to tendance upon His servants. For this was the service of the Mouse to the man of God, that it would not allow him to sleep or lie at peace beyond the fixed hour that he had laid down for himself in his holy vows: but when his body and his tired limbs, worn out with vigil and prayer and his other austerities, would have craved sleep and rest beyond the stern limits of his vow, the Mouse, sometimes by gnawing at his clothes, sometimes by nibbling at his ear, would drag him from all quiet. Dear was this office to the man of God, for by it he saw not only his vows fulfilled, but himself provoked by a dumb creature to the service of God.

Yet scarcely less remarkable was the office of the Fly. For when the man of God had leisure to read his holy books, the Fly would trot up and down his codex: and should some one call him, or he had to go about other business, he would instruct the Fly to sit down upon the line at which he had halted, and keep his place until he should return to continue his interrupted reading: which the Fly infallibly would do. Marvelous are these condescensions of the grace of God, and, as one might say, the collisions of Christ with His saints: yet incredible only to those who have too little thought for how marvelous is God in His praises, how gracious and tender His affection for those that sincerely love Him: and how befitting His ineffable loving kindness that those who have renounced all fellowship and service of men that their spirits may be swifter to serve Him, should themselves receive the good offices of dumb beasts, and a kind of human ministering: and the God whose high and tremendous majesty they acknowledge and adore should yet be found by them a benign and most indulgent friend.

And yet it befell, in the ruling of that divine wisdom that in strange vicissitude now takes its favors from the servants of God and now bestows them, now will have them comforted, and now left desolate: it befell, as the aforesaid Ketinus relates, that these three little creatures died, and their kind service and company was lost to the man of God. And in heavy sorrow, he wrote of his loss to the friend of his spirit, St. Columba, Abbot of Iona, at that time living in austerity, far from his own land. And the story goes that in reply St. Columba wrote at once in jest and in wisdom, that 'there is neither lack nor loss where neither substance nor property is found': as though to question why a man of God, consecrated to supreme renunciation and to poverty, should set that heart on small things, which had renounced and spurned great things and high.


Last modified: January 24, 2016

Headline 3

insert content here

WT Main | About WT | Review Links | Contact | Review Sources | Search

Copyright © 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Headline 3

insert content here