EXAMPLES FOR THE CHURCH AND WORLD – Female followers inspired generations
– Miguel Augusto (*)
International Women’s Day was celebrated on 8 March. We joined in that homage last Friday and today we briefly exalt the indispensable mission of women in society, especially in the Church, in the light of holy women.
Mary Most Holy was the humblest of women, the best model for us.
The first centuries of Christianity are filled with courageous women, true apostles of Christ.
During the Middle Ages, St Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), a German religious and Benedictine mystic, wrote theological and moral works and was declared Doctor of the Church by Benedict XVI in 2012.
Subsequently, another mystic appeared: St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380). She dressed the habit of the Third Order of St Dominic. She eventually became a Doctor of the Church as well.
With the rise of Protestantism in the 16th century, the Church was divided, and the Council of Trent was held. These are the years of St Teresa of Jesus (1515-1582), also known as St Teresa of Ávila, founder of the Carmelite Fathers and Mothers. Immersed many times in ecstasy, she became a mystic writer and is also a Doctor of the Church.
In America, more precisely in Peru, we have St Rosa of Lima (1586-1617), patron of Peru, America and the Philippines. She took Saint Catherine of Siena as a model and refused those who wanted her for her beauty, to live in virginity, serving the poor and the sick.
From the conjugal love of the saints Louis Martin and Zélia Guérin was born St Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), Doctor of the Church and universal patroness of the missions. She was very devoted to the Holy Face of Jesus and promoted this devotion. St Therese lived only twenty-four years. From her writings, a book was published – History of a Soul – that conquered the world, making known how much she loved Jesus.
During the Nazi persecution (20th century), another great woman converted from Judaism, Carmelite religious and martyr, St Edith Stein, also known as St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942) appeared in Europe. Saint Edith died in the concentration camp of Auschwitz, in the gas chambers, next to her sister Rose.
We take the opportunity to remember a wife, mother and pediatric Italian doctor, who was canonised by the Church: St Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962). Being pregnant and diagnosed with cancer, doctors advised the abortion to save her life, but Gianna Beretta decided for the life of her fourth child and continued the pregnancy. One week after giving birth, Gianna died on April 28, 1962, at the age of 39.
Finally, we remember St Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), who claimed to see Christ in the “poorest of the poor.” This great woman of our time was a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1979 and has shown us throughout her life that the greatest poverty is when there is no love between men or in societies that allow abortion.
“Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another” (Romans 13:8).
May the example of Mary Most Holy continue to inspire the unconditional love that women can so well demonstrate.