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Gender, sanctity and sainthood : official and alternative saints as females exemplars in Roman Catholicism,… May, Laura J. 1992

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GENDER, SANCTITY AND SAINTHOOD:OFFICIAL AND ALTERNATIVE SAINTS AS FEMALE EXEMPLARSIN ROMAN CATHOLICISM, 1939-1978byLAURA J.MAYBA., The University of Chicago, 1987A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of History)We accept this thesis as conformingto,he required apdarc.. FL’V. V.THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAugust 1992© LauraJ. May, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.Department of fri iiThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate j-t_z& ,21fti-DE-6 (2/88)11ABSTRACTAside from studies on the Virgin Mary, of which there are many, littleresearch has been done on the range of women the Roman Catholic churchhas promoted as exemplars--female saints, for example, in particularmodern female saints. I have studied the women canonized by the RomanCatholic church from 1939 to 1978 through three types of sources: papalcanonization speeches, official hagiographies, and varied writings by layCatholic women. Saints mean very different things to each of these groups ofpeople. To popes, canonization speeches provide an opportunity to commenton politics and society--from Pope Pius XII’s antifeminist remarks to PopePaul V1s attempts to reconcile feminism and Catholicism. To hagiographers,female saints represented everything from a new Virgin Mary to a newimitation of Christ. Hagiographers did not establish a dual system ofsanctity for men and for women: they did not describe all women asimitators of Mary and exemplars for other women. But they presented allfemale saints as, above all, obedient--and, in particular, obedient to the malehierarchy. Several lay Catholic women understood saints lives not asexamples of obedience but as examples of autonomy. Overall, I show thatsaInts lives are religious symbols; like other religious symbols, as PaulRicoeur argues, their lives are polysemic--that is, subject to variousinterpretations.111CONTENTSAbstract iiList of Tables ivIntroduction 11. Sources 82. Organization of this Thesis 10Chapter One: Foundresses, Mystics, and a Martyr 12l.GemmaGalgani 182. Julie Billiart 223. Maria Goretti 26Chapter Two: From Antifeminism to Maternal Feminism:Papal Interpretations of Saints as Exemplars 31l.Pius XII 332.J0hnXXIII 383. Paul VI 42Chapter Three: Constructing Orthodox Narratives:Hagiographers and Their Subjects 52I. Virgin Mary as Archetype 532. Christ as Archetype 65Chapter Four: From Obedience to Autonomy:Catholic Lay Women Define Sanctity and Sainthood 81Conclusion 98Bibliography 101ivTABLES1. Women Canonized, 1939-1978 141INTRODUCTIONFifty years ago, John Meciclin declared the passing of the saint--acultural type which, he argued, had not survived into the twentieth century.1For medieval scholars, the study of modern saints seems fruitless. According toJohn Coleman, “compared to a familiar world peopled and evoked by saints...our modern pantheon of saints seem narrow, cramped, and one-dimensional.’2But Mecklins and Coleman’s work describes not the demise of the saint as animportant part of Catholic piety, but the different role saints play in modernsociety. According to Mecklin, the medieval saint could thrive only in anundemocratic culture, a culture which recognized a radical differentiationbetween the earthly and the divine. Saints partook of the divine as well as theearthly: they were admired because they were different. As Eusebius said,They are aristocrats. “3 Although recent scholarship has shown thatmedieval saints were not as distinctive as Mecklin suggests--hagiographersemphasized saints’ extreme ascetism and depth of piety in order todifferentiate them from an already pious laity4--, Mecklin’s essential point isvalid. Popular devotion to medieval saints emphasized the transcendent, notthe human, dimension of saints;5 popular saints of the twentieth century arevenerated more for their human than their transcendent qualities, as I willdiscuss later in this thesis. Furthermore, modern saints have a different‘John Mecklin, The Passing of the Saint: A Study of a Cultural Type (Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1941).2John A. Coleman, S. J., “Conclusion: After Sainthood?” in John Stratton Hawley, editor,Saints and Virtues (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987), 205.3Quoted in Mecklin, The Passing of the Saint. 32.4Richard Kieckhefer, “Holiness and the Culture of Devotion: Remarks on Some LateMedieval Male Saints” in Renate Blumenfeld-Kasinski and Timea Szell, editors, Images ofSainthood in Medieval Europe (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1991). 291.5Brigiue Cazefles, “Introduction in Ibid. 3.2relationship with society than medieval saints did. Medieval saints weresymbols of piety for all Christians in the West; modern saints attract devotiononly from Roman Catholics (although the Eastern Orthodox Church has its owntradition of saints). But these differences between medieval and modern saintsand their cults do not account for the lack of scholarly attention to modernsaints.If modern saints have failed to attract their share of scholarly interest, itis not because there have been few of them or because they have notgenerated public cults. On the contrary, the number of papal canonizations hasrisen dramatically--during the thirteenth century, there were 20 papalcanonizations; during the fourteenth, only twelve;6from 1800 to 1846, ten; butfrom 1846 to 1914, there were 74 papal canonizations, and from 1914 to 1963,there were 79 canonizations. Furthermore, public interest in the saints hasnot diminished: more than 250,000 people attended Maria Gorettiscanonization on June 24, 19508; Gemma Galgani and Thérèse of Lisieuxachieved widespread popularity and veneration through the publication oftheir writings; popular biogaphies of saints still sell well and movies have beenmade about saints, including Maria Goretti, Thérèse of Lisieux, and BernadetteSoubirous, all canonized during the twentieth century.9 Despite a decrease ininterest in saints during the late 1 960s, partly due to the revised liturgicalcalendar of 1969 when 52 saints were dropped from the list (often becausetheir very existence was questioned), interest in saints grew during the 1970s,especially in North America with the canonization of two Americans, Elizabeth6Richard Kieckhefer, Unquiet Souls: Fourteenth-Century Saints and Their RelialousMilieu (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984). 5.7Paul Molinari, Saints: Their Place in the Church (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965). 174-5.8New Catholic Encyclopedia. s.v. “Goretti, Maria.”9Molinari, p. 180.3Seton and John Neumann, in 1975.10 The focus of modern devotion wasdifferent than medieval devotion: modern devotees were interested more inthe moral character of saints whereas their medieval predecessors wereattracted by legends and cults.11 But the interest in and devotion to saintsexisted all the same, despite the differences in the focus of the devotion. Boththe popularity and the number of saints should suggest the need for scholarlystudy of modern saints.But scholars have another, more compelling reason to study modernsaints: anthropologists and feminist scholars have revitalized interest in thestudy of religious symbolism. From Simone de Beauvoir to Mary Daly, feministtheorists have criticized not just the Roman Catholic churchs policies on birthcontrol and the ordination of women, but also the very imagery of the church--the exaltation of Mary, the mother who subordinates herself to her male child,and the masculine identification of God as God the Father, the Son, and the HolyGhost. Beauvoir calls the cult of the Virgin Mary “the supreme masculinevictory; worse yet, argues Daly, is that “women are encouraged to identifywith this image of Mary, and to do so has devastating effects.”12 RosemaryRadford Ruether criticizes Christian theologians for creating a “symbolicuniverse based on the patriarchal hierarchy of male over female. Thesubordination of woman to man is replicated in the symbolic universe in theimagery of divine-human relations. God is imaged as the great patriarch overt0Richard Kieckhefer. “The Cult of Saints as Popular Religion,” Explor 7 (1984): 44.I tlbid., 45.12Both quotes from Mary Daly, The Church and the Second Sex (New York: Harper andRow, 1968), 61.4against the earth or Creation, imaged in female terms. Likewise Christ isrelated to the Church as bridegroom to bride.”13Feminists have responded in two ways to their dissatisfaction withChristian and especially Catholic symbolism: some, like Mary Daly, left thechurch in search of female-centred forms of worship--often they focussed on“the goddess;”14 others, such as Anne Carr and Rosemary Radford Ruether,have worked within Christianity to try to reclaim symbols for women. As Carrexplains, feminist interpretation involves two processes: it must unmask “theillusory or ideological aspects of symbols which denigrate the humanity ofwomen” and it must retrieve “the genuinely transcendent meaning of symbols(in) affirming the authentic selfhood and self-transcendence of women.”13Central to Carrs analysis--and to this thesis--is the work by Paul Ricoeurand Victor Turner on religious symbols. As Turner explains, symbols arepolysemic--that is, they have many meanings.16 And, as Ricoeur argues, thesymbol is never transparent like a sign; religious symbols are not simplestatements about social conditions or the way society should be structured.Caroline Walker Bynum applies Ricoeur’s insights to the study of gender-related religious symbols--such as the masculinity or femininity of God--and13Rosemary Radford Ruether, “The Feminist Critique in Religious Studies,” Soundings: AnInterdisciplinary Tournal 64 (Winter 1981): 390.t4See. for example. Mary Daly, Gvn/Ecolov: The Metethics of Radical Feminism (Boston:Beacon Press, 1978); Carol P. Christ, “Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomonological,Psychological, and Political Reflections,” in Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, editors,Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (San Francisco and New York: Harperand Row, 1979); 274-5. For a discussion about female-centred symbolism in the Mass--using the wine as a symbol of blood shed in menstruation and childbirth--see ElizabethAnn Stanger, The Catholic Womens Network (Master’s thesis, University of BritishColumbia, 1989), 67-69.15Anne Carr, “Is a Christian Feminist Theology Possible?,” Theological Studies 43 (June1982): 286.16Turner is discussed by Caroline Walker Bynuni, “Introduction: The Complexity ofSymbols” in C. Bynum, Steven Harrell, and Paula Richman, editors, Gender and Religion:On the Complexity of Symbols (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986). 2.5concludes that “gender-related symbols, in their full complexity, may refer togender in ways that affirm or reverse it, support or question it; or they may, intheir basic meaning, have little at all to do with male and female roles.”17Beauvoir’s and Daly’s criticism of Catholic symbolism is, therefore, faultybecause it rests on the assumption that symbols are merely signs--that theVirgin Mary, for example, has one “meaning” and that this meaning istransparent.Some Catholic women have not accepted the feminist criticism of Catholicsymbolism. For Anne Roche Muggeridge, for example, feminist criticism“strikes at the very heart of religion, the point at which the natural and thedivine touch, at which incarnation natural and supernatural takes place.”18Unlike Carr, Muggeridge argues that it is not possible to separate the ideologicaland transcendent aspects of Christian symbols. For Carr, the maleness of Christ,for example, is incidental; Christ’s maleness should not be used theologically toargue that priests must be male because Christ was male.19 Part ofMuggeridge’s reaction to feminist theology, particularly radical feministtheology, is visceral: “There is a real stink of brimstone at gatheringsdominated by feminist nuns, especially at their liturgies, a creepy neopaganism with strong suggestions of sexual perversion. This is no longer asecret; Mary Daly, an early radical who who has left the Church but still teachesat the Jesuit Boston College, openly preaches lesbian witchcraft.”20 Muggeridgehas not distinguished between the different positions within the feministcritique of religion--the radical position, such as Mary Daly’s, and the moderate17Ibid,18Anne Roche Muggeridge, The Desolate City: The Catholic Church in Ruins (Toronto:McClelland and Stewart, 1986), 141.19Anne Carr, “Is a Christian FeministTheology Possible?”: 285, 295.20Anne Roche Muggeridge, The Desolate City, 141.6position, such as Ruether’s and Carrs. Nor has she responded to Carr’sargument that symbols contain both incidental and transcendent elements.Carr’s insight is valuable: it is when these incidental aspects of symbols--themaleness of Christ, for example--are raised to the transcendent level that whatshe calls “idolatry” occurs.21 To decide that all priests must be male becauseChrist was male is to confuse the incidental and transcendent; when theologiansinterpret symbols in that way- -when they raise the finite to the level of theinfinite--, their interpretation is based on their own ideological understandingof sex roles; they have conflated their ideology with the transcendent.Building on recent scholarship on the complexity of religious symbols, Iwill examine the women canonized by the Roman Catholic church from 1939 to1978--that is, during the reigns of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), Pope John XXIII(1958-1963), and Pope Paul VI (1963-1978). Women saints serve as Catholicsymbols in two ways. First, biographers of saints-- usually referred to ashagiographers--use existing symbols of sanctity to describe their subjects’lives. Most commonly, saints’ lives are represented as imitations of Christ.Jesus himself was described as the new Adam, the new Moses, the newAbraham. As Donald Capps explains, “whether or not Jesus himself consideredhis life to be the mirroring of these well-established paradigms, his followersand supporters believed it necessary to interpret his life in terms of theseprimitive mythical models. His own life, in turn, may itself become anexemplary model, worthy of emulation because it has demonstrated its affinitywith traditional models.”22 By studying the paradigms hagiographersemployed to describe their subjects’ sanctity, I can examine in what ways2tAnne Carr, “Is a Christian Feminist Theology Possible?”, 285.22Donald Capps, “Lincoln’s Martyrdom: A Study of Exemplary Mythic Patterns” in D. Cappsand Frank E. Reynolds, editors, The Biographical Process: Studies in the History andPsychology of Religion (The Hague, Paris: Mouton, 1976), 393.7hagiographers perceived their subjects as “gendered”: did they, for example,model their female saints’ lives after the Virgin Mary or after Christ? Studyinghagiographies will enable us to determine how the hagiographers understoodtheir subjects’ lives, but not how the saints themselves understood their lives.Second, the saints’ lives themselves become a symbol--or, more accurately, amyth, which Ricoeur defines as “a species of symbol, a symbol developed intonarrative form.”23 The saints become new models of sanctity for others toimitate. I will examine in what ways these lives are “gendered”--ifhagiographers have created ‘feminine sanctity” for women and women alone toemulate.My purpose is two-fold: first, I plan to describe the kinds of saints theCatholic hierarchy promotes as exemplars to the Catholic laity; second, I plan todescribe the ways in which these saints’ lives could be and in fact wereunderstood by Catholic women. As Gerda Lerner explains, women’s history hasmoved beyond documenting the history of men’s attitudes about how womenshould behave; to study only male attitudes about women--or, in this thesis, tostudy only how the male hierarchy portrayed female saints--would be to placewomen in “a male-defined conceptual framework.”24 Because women did notalways behave in prescribed ways, because they used gender role symbolismin conventional and unconventional ways--”to maintain the social order (and)to promote its change”25--, it is necessary to study how women interpretedsymbols such as female saints, not just how the Catholic hierarchy presented23Paul Ricoeur, 7he Symbol Gives Rise to Thought,” in Walter H. Capps, editor, Ways ofUnderstanding Religion (New York: Macmillan. 1972), 316.24Gerda Lerner, “Placing Women in History: Definitions and Challenges,” Feminist StudiesHI (FaIl 1973): 6.25Natalie Zemon Davis. “Women’s History in Transition: The European Case,” FeministStudies III (Spring-Summer 1976): 90.8these symbols. In order to show that some Catholic women interpreted femalesaints’ lives in unconventional ways, it was necessary to study unconventionalwomen--often activists or feminists, or at least women who in some waychallenged prescribed roles. It is not my intention to argue thatunconventional Catholic women had a ‘better” understanding of saints’ livesthan the Catholic hierarchy did. Instead, I show that it is not possible todiscern the meaning of saints’ lives from official sources alone: it is necessaryto study how Catholic women interpreted official sources.SourcesIn examining female saints of the twentieth century, I have used threedifferent types of sources which correspond with three differentunderstandings of what the Catholic church is. The first source is papalspeeches at canonization ceremonies--the official, authoritative interpretationof the meaning of saints’ lives. Papal speeches typically give a brief history ofthe saint’s life, then discuss the saint’s relevance to contemporarycircumstances. Papal speeches are not rich with symbolism as hagiographiesare; these speeches do not employ paradigms of sanctity to describe the newlycanonized saint. They are useful in showing how the Catholic church--thechurch as official institution, not as body of believers--interpreted these saints’lives and what they understood these saints’ contemporary relevance to be.The second source, hagiographies, permits us to expand our definition ofthe Catholic church beyond the papacy to include all those who have writtenhagiographies. There are two types of hagiographies. The most common is thehagiography devoted to the life of one saint--a full-length book publishedbefore beatification or canonization in order to promote the saint’s cause orimmediately after beatification or canonization to make the saint known to awider audience. (Beatification occurs before canonization. Those beatified--9that is, declared blessed--can be venerated locally but are not part of theuniversal church. The saint’s “cause” refers to the bureaucratic processcandidates for sainthood must undergo before they are beatified orcanonized.26)Hagiographers are often male or female members of religiousorders; often, they are writing to promote the cause of their religious ordersfounder. Occasionally the hagiographers are lay Catholics and professionalwriters, such as Frances Parkinson Keyes, who published a number ofhagiographies. All of these hagiographies bore the imprimalur and nihilobstat, declaring the book to be free of doctrinal error. But the other type ofhagiography, the collections of saints’ lives, did not always bear the nnprnnaturand n.thiiobstat. Collections are usually thematic--one collection might includeonly married saints or female saints, for example. The structure of thesehagiographies differs sharply from the hagiographies dedicated to only onesaint. Collections are similar instead to papal speeches: they include a briefbiographical sketch of each saint followed by a discussion of the saint’srelevance to a particular audience--married people or women, for example.But, like papal speeches, these two types of hagiographies permit us to explorethe meaning of these saints’ lives primarily to representatives of theinstitutional church, not to lay Catholics.The third type of source--writings by twentieth-century “lay” Catholicwomen27--enables us not only to broaden our study of the Catholic church toinclude the laity, but also to broaden our understanding of sanctity itself. As Iwill discuss later in this thesis, Catholic women sometimes expressed26For information on canonization procedures, see Kenneth L. Woodward, Makina Saints:flow the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint. Who Doesn’t. and Why (NewYork, London, Toronto: Simon and Schuster, 1990), especially pp. 87-126.271 use the term lay Catholic women to refer to women who are not members of religiousorders, although technically all Catholic women are members of the laity because womencannot become priests,10frustration with the ideals represented by formally canonized saints; theyinterpreted canonized saints lives in unconventional ways: and sometimes theysuggested alternative saints to those officially recognized by the church.Because the body of writing by lay Catholic women during the twentiethcentury is so vast, I have only been able to use a fraction of the materialavailable; most of the sources I have used were written by American Catholiclay women. Consequently, this part of my thesis is merely exploratory, notconclusive.The Organization of this ThesisThis thesis is divided into four chapters. Chapter one is primarilydescriptive: I present data about the women canonized from 1939 to 1978--their countries of birth, their dates of birth and death, their status as laywomen or members of religious orders, and so forth. I also give briefbiographical sketches of three saints to familiarize readers with a few examplesbefore thematic discussion begins. After this chapter, which is intended toprovide background information, I will focus on how saints’ lives arerepresented and interpreted by popes, hagiographers, and lay women. I willnot evaluate whether these representations are accurate accounts of thesesaints’ lives because I am investigating ineaniüg--how others understandthese saints, not how these saints actually lived.In chapter two, I will examine papal speeches during canonizationceremonies. Each of the popes interpreted newly canonized saints’ lives interms of their own political agendas. For Pius XII, canonization speeches werean opportunity to make antifeminist comments. But for Paul VI, canonizationspeeches were an opportunity to show that Catholicism and feminism were notmutually exclusive.11Chapters three and four are the heart of the thesis, where I explore thearchetypal models used in hagiography and the new models of sanctity createdby these hagiographies. I argue that hagiographers have not created a dualsystem of sanctity--female saints for women and male saints for men. And,despite the efforts by many hagiographers to describe female saints as passive,obedient, and subordinate, the hagiographies themselves can be interpreteddifferently--to affirm rather than subordinate women. In chapter four, I showthat not only cizo hagiographies be understood in ways that affirm women, butthat hagiographies have been understood in ways that affirm women.Twentieth-century lay Catholic women have afready been involved in thefeminist task that Anne Carr described in her 1982 article, “Is a ChristianFeminist Theology Possible?”: they have exposed the ideology which consignswomen to subordinate roles and reinterpreted symbols and myths in feministways. The more we examine the ways in which lay women understood saints,not just the ways in which representatives of the institutional churchunderstood saints, the more we see how religious symbols have beentransmuted to question and even deny the official Catholic positions on genderroles and social relations.12CHAPTER ONEFoundresses, Mystics, and a MartyrFrom 1939 to 1978, 27 women and 40 men were canonized.1 Prior tothe twentieth century, women accounted for only 20 percent of allcanonizations.2 Throughout the centuries, the percentage of female saints roseand fell according to the types of sanctity predominant during a certain era.During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, for example, the percentage offemale saints was low--only approximately 12 percent of the total--becausepeople then looked to secular leaders, usually princes and kings, for theirspiritual heroes.3 But the percentage of female saints during the thirteenthcentury nearly doubled to approximately 23 percent because of the rise of themendicant orders, which were open to women as well as to men.4 During theCatholic Reformation, the percentage of women saints declined because of thechurch’s increased emphasis on the clerical hierarchy and the centrality of thesacraments; priests were more likely to be canonized during this period.5 Thepercentage of women canonized during the twentieth century may haveincreased because of the large number of religious orders for women foundedduring the nineteenth century; their founders were canonized during thetwentieth cenutry. Religious orders have the organizational means and usuallythe funding to initiate a cause for sainthood.6 Members of religious orderslj have excluded group canonizations from these numbers, such as the canonization of 40English and Welsh martyrs in 1970.2Kenneth Woodward, Makina Saints. 117.3Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell, Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of WesternChristendom. 1000-1700 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982). 221.4lbid., 224.5lbid,, 225-226.6Kenneth Woodward. Making Saints. 112-114.13were usually eager to see their founders canonized: their ability to initiate andpromote a cause for sainthood had two important results--an increasedpercentage of women saints during the twentieth century, and a highpercentage of religious rather than lay female saints.Most of the women canonized from 1939 to 1978 were founders ofreligious orders. Generally, saints are classified according to two basictypologies: martyrs and confessors, or those who proclaimed themselves willingto die for Christ.7 The category for confessors is broken down further intocategories of gender and status: men can be classified as bishops, priests,monks, founders, lay brothers, and so forth; women can be classified as virginsor Toundresses” (the church uses the term foundress for women). Of the mencanonized between 1939 and 1978, none were classified as virgins; virgin is aclassification reserved for women. As mentioned before, most womencanonized during this period were classified as foundresses or cofoundresses- -21 out of the 27 women, in fact (see table). The rest of the women wereclassified as virgins; one was a virgin-martyr. By contrast, only seven of the 40men canonized were classified as founders; their ranks include hermits, laybrothers, priests, bishops, a pope, missionaries, and martyrs.Virtually all of the female saints were born in Western Europe. All butthree of the female saints from 1939 to 1978 were born in either France, Italyor Spain; the three exceptions were born in Hungary, Ecuador, and the UnitedStates (see table). Sociological reasons partly account for the high numbers ofEuropean saints: in southern Italy, for example, Catholics are more likely topray to saints for miracles than Catholics in other countries (the Vatican7lbid., 5.14TABLE IWomen Canonized, 1 39-1 978Sources: 1984 Catholic Almanac and the New Catholic Encyclopedia.* Year of canonizationor 1426Country* Birth-Death of Birth Classification1940 Gemma Galgani 1878-1903 Italy Virgin1940 Mary Euphrasia Pelletier 1796-1868 France Foundress1943 Margaret of Hungary (d. 1270) Hungary Virgin1946 Frances Xavier Cabrini 1850-19 17 Italy Foundress1947 Jeanne Elizabeth des Ages 1777-1838 France Cofoundress1947 Catherine Labouré 1806-1876 France Virgin1949 Jeanne deLestonnac 1556-1640 France Foundress1949 Maria Josepha Rossello 181 1-1880 Italy Foundress1950 EmilydeRodat 1787-1852 France Foundress1950 Bartoloniea Capitanio 1807-1833 Italy Cofoundress1950 Vincenza Gerosa 1784-1847 Italy Cofoundress1950 JeannedeValois 1464-1505 France Foundress1950 Maria Goretti 1890-1902 Italy Virgin-Martyr1950 Mariana Paredes of Jesus 1618-1645 Ecuador Virgin1951 Maria Dotnenica Mazzarello 1837-1881 Italy Cofoundress1951 Emilie de Vialar 1797-1856 France Foundress1954 Maria Crocifissa di Rosa 1813-1855 Italy Foundress1959 JoaquinadeVedrunadeMas 1783-1854 Spain Foundress1961 Bertilla Boscardin 1888-1922 Italy Virgin1969 julie Billiart 1751-18 16 France Foundress1970 Maria Della Dolorato Torres Acosta 1826-1887 Spain Foundress1970 Thèrèse Couderc 1805-1885 France Foundress1974 Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars 1843-1897 Spain Foundress1975 Vicenta Maria Lopes y Vicuna 1847-1890 Spain Foundress1975 Elizabeth Bayley Seton 1774-182 1 U.S.A. Foundress1976 Beatrice de Silva 1424” - 1490 Foundress1917 Rafaela Maria Porras y Allon 1850-1925 Soain Foundress1Yrequires proof of posthumous miracles in order for a saint to be canonized).But, more importantly, doctors in southern Italy are far morelikely than doctors in, for example, Eastern Europe to cooperate with the churchin confirming the existence of miracles. In several Marxist countries in Africa,doctors are prohibited from cooperating with the church, while in other ThirdWorld countries, medical facilities are inadequate to provide the necessarydocumentation proving the existence of a medical miracle to the Vatican. AsKenneth Woodward explains, saints come overwhelmingly from WesternEurope mostly because the bureaucratic process of canonization functions moreeffectively in those countries.8The majority of the female saints studied in this thesis lived during thenineteenth century. Saints cannot be alive when they are canonized, nor canthey have died only very recently. Although the church rescinded the lawrequiring that candidates for sainthood be dead at least 50 years beforecanonization, ‘bishops are warned to be especially careful in distinguishingbetween an authentic reputation for sanctity, manifested by prayers and otheracts of devotion toward the deceased, and a reputation stimulated by themedia and mere ‘public opinion.”9 Whether bishops heed the warning or not,candidates for sainthood cannot pass through the canonization procedurequickly: they must be approved by their local bishop; their lives must bestudied by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which, during the periodstudied in this thesis, used a Devil’s Advocate to point out saints’ shortcomings;all of their writings must be judged orthodox; miracles attributed to theirintercession must be approved; and their corpses must be exhumed to ensure8Ibid., 192-193.9lbid., 79.16that misidentification of a corpse has not occurred.10 All of these procedurestake time: the quickest canonization since 1588 was Thérèse of Lisieux’s, whodied in 1897 and was canonized 28 years later in 1925.11 Because of thelengthy process of creating saints, it is not surprising that most of the saintscanonized from 1939 to 1978 lived and died during the nineteenth century.The most recent saint for the period studied was (depending if one uses birthor death dates) either Maria Goretti, who was born in 1890 but died young in1902, or Rafaela Maria Porras y Allon, born in 1850, died in 1925. The earliestsaint, Margaret of Hungary, died in 1270, but her case was exceptional; hercanonization was an “equivalent canonization3”reserved for saints whose cultshave survived for centuries but who lived before there was adequatedocumentation to establish sanctity through the regular process. For regularcanonization, the earliest saint was Beatrice de Silva, who lived during thefifteenth century.Because the rest of the thesis is devoted to an analysis of how the saints’lives were interpreted, not to a sociological study of the types of womencanonized, it is important to familiarize readers with brief biographicalsketches of a few saints. These sketches will give readers a fullerunderstanding of how hagiographers presented the totality of these women’slives, not just their significance as female religious symbols. Hagiographerswere concerned with the importance of these saints as women, but not only aswomen. The thematic analysis in later chapters of the saints as genderedreligious symbols will be easier to follow once readers have already becomefamiliar with a few examples of saints.t0lbid., 77-86.1tIbid., 107.17And, more importantly, these biographical sketches will help underscorethe importance of the saints’ lives as stories, as religious myth, not simply asobjective representations of a life. This use of the term ‘myth’ does not suggestthat saints’ biographies were untrue. I do not use the term ‘myth in thepopular sense as that which is false. Rather, I use the term in the sense thatboth Paul Ricoeur and Peter Berger have used it: as previously mentioned,Ricoeur defines myth as a type of symbol, a symbol in narrative form, varied inmeaning; for Berger, myth is “any set of ideas that infuses transcendentmeaning into the lives of men;” myth is as much a part of political ideologies asit is a part of religion.’2 Like political myths, the myths created and employedby hagiographers function “to meet the present needs of a social group orclass;” they narrate “a meaningful and reductive past, present, and future,which serves to locate a social group in a paradigm of historical development;thereby giving it a sense of direction and historical affirmation.’13Hagiographers try to address the immediate concerns of their audience ofCatholics; they demonstrate how their saint is part of a long tradition ofCatholic history, how their saint struggled with and conquered opposition--opposition similar, according to hagiographers, to the kind of opposition facingcontemporary Catholics. Hagiographers do not just relate the life of a saint;they try to make that life meaningful to their audience. Consequently, theirhagiographies can be understood as a form of myth in the sense that Ricoeurand Berger use the term.The three saints I have selected to describe in detail were canonized fordifferent reasons: collectively, they represent the range in types of sanctity12Peter Berger, quoted in George Egerton, “Collective Security as Political Myth: LiberalInternationalism and the League of Nations in Politics and History1”The InternationalHistory Review 4(November 1983): 498.13George Egert.on, “Collective Security as Political Myth,” 501.18exhibited by female saints from 1939 to 1978. The first, Gemma Galgani, isofficially classified as a virgin, but, more specifically, she was a mystic--theonly saint, male or female, from this period to receive the stigmata, the woundsof Christ.14 The second, Julie Bifflart, is more typical of the rest of the saintsfrom this period: she was a French founder of a religious order. And the last,Maria Goretti, was the only female martyr canonized during this period; shewas also arguably the most popular new saint of the period.Gemma GalganiGemma Galgani was born on March 12, 1878, outside of Lucca, Italy.Even as a young child, she was inclined towards piety. Her family was lovingand devoted, especially her mother, who suffered from tuberculosis. As one ofher hagiographers, Giuseppe Bardi, describes, “Gemma’s mother was not only agood mother, she was a saint, and a perfect model for every Catholic mother.Her life was a constant prayer. Each morning she approached the Sacramentswith fervent piety, nearly always going to church in great discomfort and painand at times with a high fever.”15 She recognized Gemma’s piety at an earlyage: “She loved all of her children, but above all she loved Gemma for thegraces she could see God was showering upon her soul.”16 Anotherhagiographer, Margaret Munro, explains that Gemma’s seven brothers andsisters did not feel jealous that their parents favoured Gemma: they, too, lovedher for her gentleness and piety.’7 Bardi and Munro use two themes commonto the hagiographies of female saints of this period: the piety of the saint as a14Ibid., 164.15Giuseppe Bardi, St. Gemnia Galgani. trans. Margherita M. Repton (Boston: St. PaulEditions, 1961). 17.16Ibid.17Margaret Munro, A Book of Unlikely Saints (1943: reprint, Freeport. New York: Books forLibrairies Press, 1970), 186-187.19child, and one--or both--of the parents’ early recognition of this piety. In thehagiographical tradition, saints are usually favoured by their parents.In 1886, when Gemma was eight years old, her mother finally died oftuberculosis. Both hagiographers present her mother’s death as theconsequence of a choice made by Gemma. Bardi quotes from Gemma’swritings- -I suddenly heard a voice say to me: “Will you give me your mother?”“Yes,” I replied, “but only if You will take me too.” “No,” replied thesame voice, ‘you must give her to Me willingly; for the present youmust remain with your Daddy. I will take her to Heaven, but willyou give her up willingly?” I felt obliged to say “Yes.” When Masswas over I rushed home. As I looked at Mother I could not restrainmy tears.18Neither hagiographer denies the importance of tuberculosis in the death ofGemnia’s mother, but the timing of her death could be explained by Gemnia’sdecision to give her mother up for Christ. This decision was the first in a longseries of decisions in which Gemrua chose to be a heroic victim, to share Christ’ssufferings on the cross.Her next trial was at age 13, when she lost the sense of closeness to Godshe had always had during prayer. According to Munro, this trial wasnecessary; it was God’s doing: “This type of trial is absolutely necessary if ourlove of God is to be purged of selfishness. As long as we love God for thepleasure of His presence, we are really loving ourselves.’19 Gemma withstoodthis test--as she would withstand all tests of her faith.Because of excessive generosity and honesty, according to Bardi,Gemma’s father went bankrupt; he died of cancer soon after in 1897. Gemmawent to live with her aunt--an uneasy situation because of her poverty and18Giuseppe Bardi, St. Gemma Galgani. 29.19Margaret Munro. Unlikely Saints. 191.20dependency. When a young military officer asked to marry her, she refusedhim. Her relatives urged her to marry him, but, despite the relief her marriagewould bring to her relatives, Gemma did not want to marry. She had anothervocation: she wanted to become a nun.Gemma never became a nun because her health failed--she developedspinal meningitis--so the Archbishop denied her admittance to the VisitationOrder. Despite her disappointment, “she submitted without one murmur to theDivine Will, giving to God the fiat of her submissive resignation.”20 Gemmabegan to receive the stigmata every Thursday evening at about 8:00 p.m. until3:00 p.m. on Friday, “the hour that Jesus died on the Cross.”21 Her life at heraunt’s home became increasingly difficult after the stigmata began appearingbecause her cousins made fun of her and gossiped to others about her.Finally, she moved to the home of the Gianninis, a well-to-do family who,apparently, were more understanding of her ecstasies. Still, as Munro pointsout, Gemma made herself useful in their home: “But it is important toremember that during these three years when she was undergoing a weeklycrucifixion Gemma pulled her full weight in the housework.”22 The end of herstigmata did not bring the end of her suffering, however: “As the outwardcrucifixion ceased, she became more and more crucified in heart, sharing thespiritual desolation of Calvary when she no longer visibly shared the Cross.’23Gemma died young--in 1903, at age 25.In telling the story of her life, both of these hagiographers interpret thesignificance of Gemma’s life to their contemporary readers--that she stood20Giuseppe Bardi. St. Gemma Galani. 92.21Jbjd 100.22Margaret Munro, Unlikely Saints. 174.231b1d 207.21against the materialism and corruption of the twentieth century, that othersmust make sacrifices of themselves like she did in order to make reparation forthe corruption of the world. As Bardi explains, her mortification was “areaction against the paganism of the world that makes an idol ofthe body andoften turns it into an instrument of For both hagiographers, Gemmassignificance is her fundamental opposition to contemporary culture; thetwentieth-century world stands for comfort, corruption, and escapism, whileGemma stands for self-sacrifice, suffering, and a willingness to acknowledge sinand atone for it.For Bardi, Gemma’s life has added significance: her life demonstrates theimportance of obedience to the clergy. Throughout the hagiography, Bardipoints out how Gemtua always obeyed her confessor and how Jesus himselfurged her to obey her confessor--How great is the power of obedience, to which even Jesus submitsHimself in confirmation of the paramount authority conferred by Himon one who represents Him. He even binds or looses His celestialfavors when the directors desire it so. To Gemma, who is foreverasking for the Cross, Jesus answers: “GO, tell your confessor, if he isagreeable I will give it to you always.”25According to Bardi, Jesus himself submits to clerical authority; Jesus himselfbends to suit the preferences of the clergy. Eventually during Bardisnarrative, it is no longer Gemma struggling with the devil--it is no longerGemmas faith being tested--it is her confessor who struggles with the devil forGemmas soul. As Bardi describes, the devil has known for a long time what apowerful adversary he has in Monsignor Volpi... .(The devil) loathes (Volpis)great purity and the conquering sanctity of life, and trembling with rage he24Giuseppe Bardi, St. Gemma Ga1ani. 129.251b1d 118-120.22wishes to separate him from the privileged young virgin.26 According toBardi, Gemma chose wisely when she decided to trust her confessor rather thanto trust Jesus himself--the Jesus who appears to her from time to time--because the devil did once disguise himself as Jesus and tried to persuade herto disobey her confessor. Her loyalty to her confessor won; she did not disobeyhim.27 Again, Bardi, himself a priest, uses Gemma’s life to demonstrate thesupreme importance of obeying the clergy, even if Jesus or Mary appearsduring religious ecstasies to advise the individual Catholic to disobey a priest.Only the devil would demand that a Catholic disobey the priest; Jesus himselfsubmits to the will of the clergy.Julie BilhiartBorn on July 12, 1751 in Cuvifly, France, Julie Billiarts life provides anideal opportunity for her hagiographers to express anti-modern ideas; Julie’slife serves as an example of the horrors of materialism, republicanism, andEnlightenment philosophy. Julie was the daughter of a small shopkeeperwhose goods--the family’s only assets--were stolen during a robbery in whichher father’s life was threatened. Afterwards, the family had to struggle simplyto survive. Julie worked in the fields by day and ran errands at night; she stillreserved time to help those even less fortunate than herself and to sew churchvestments.28 Unfortunately, she succumbed to a paralytic stroke and could notwalk for 22 years, but paralysis brought benefits as well as hardship--she hadmore time to devote to spirituality.29 Prior to her stroke, she had afreadydeveloped an active spiritual life. Her first communion had to remain secret,26Ibid 120.27Jbjd 121.28Sister Mary Fidelis, As Gold in the Furnace: The Life of Blessed Julie Billiart (Milwaukee:The Bruce Publishing Company, 1957). 15-20.29New Catholic Encyclopedia. s.v. “Billiart, Julie.’23however, because “the baneful influence of Jansenism had spread even to thisremote village of Picardy. Its excessive rigorism kept innocent children fromreceiving their Eucharistic Lord into their hearts until they were thirteen orfourteen years of age.”3°During the French Revolution, she harboured refractory clergymen, thosewho refused to swear the oath of loyalty to the constitution produced by theConstituent Assembly of 1790, and she refused the services of the civil clergy.Because of her antirepublican political stance, her life was in danger in Picardy,so she fled to Aniiens. She became friends with Francoise BUn de Bourdon,with whom she decided to begin a religious community under the direction ofJoseph Varin d’Ainville.3 She was cured of her paralysis, but her trials andsuffering were not yet over: she encountered resistance from members of theecciesiatical hierarchy.The motif of the unjustly wronged foundress or mother superior iscommon to hagiographies of this period. The villain in Julie’s hagiographies isFather de Sambucy, who told the bishop that Julie was an ambitious, autocraticwoman who was looking for personal gain. He managed to take control of theconvent and appoint as Mother Superior a woman only 23 years old who hadspent just a few months as a nun.32 Not only did Father de Sambucy treat herpoorly, but others who heard the gossip also did. Julie responded to the gossip,mistrust, and removal of her authority the same way other saints did: shesubmitted to the will of Father de Sambucy without a complaint because “Hethat excuses himself, accuses himself.”33 The only possible explanation for why30Sister Mary Fidelis, As Gold in the Furnace. 11.3tNew Catholic Encyclopedia. s. v. “Bifliart, Julie.’32Sister Mary Fidelis, As Gold in the Furnace. 92-97.33Ibid., 112.24Father de Sambucy--who was, after all, a priest--would mistreat Julie is “thatGod, in His all-wise Providence, allowed the frayed nerves of a truly holy manto serve as a means of further testing the virtue of His loyal servant.”34 Juliemoved to Belgium, where her religious order, the Notre Dame de Namur Sisters,thrived, while the Notre Dame sisters in France failed. She died in 1816 andwas buried on April 10. Fifteen months later, in July 1817, her coffin wasopened--her body was “still fresh and beautiful,’ with no signs ofdecomposition except for a slight shriveling of the fingertips.35Julie’s hagiographies are an unusually rich source of myth of the kinddescribed by Ricoeur, Berger, and George Egerton. As Egerton explains, politicalideologies incorporate political myths: the underlying myth of Bolshevism, forexample, is the revolutionary class struggle resulting in a classless society; ofliberalism, evolutionary progress and “a vision of free human fulfilment;” ofconservatism, the organic growth of society and “the reconstruction ofChristendom.”36 Like the exponents of these various ideologies, hagiographersemploy a reductive view of history and an idealized vision of the future inorder to make their ideologies--or, in this case, Catholicism--relevant andmeaningful to their readers. Julie’s two hagiographers used slightly differentmyths--slightly different reductive histories--to promote a conservative,Catholic worldview.For Father James Clare, Julie is just one of a long history of saints calledto protect the church during times of crisis and opposition from the outsideworld, Judith and Esther both saved their people from destruction; “even frailwomen (could) be the instruments for the preservation of His chosen people,”34Ibid., 102.35161d., 197.36George Egerton, “Collective Security as Political Myths” 301.25although the chosen people were now the “children of the holy CatholicChurch.’37 During each period of threats to the church, God calls saints todefend the church. During the barbarian invasions of Christendom, he calledJerome, Ambrose, and Augustine; during the Protestant Reformation, he calledIgnatius and Teresa; during the present crisis--in 1897, when Clare was writinghis preface, there was in France “the persistent effort of wicked men, who havestriven to wrest out of the hands of the pastors of the Church the education ofyouth of both sexes, and to appoint as professors and teachers of the youngpersons who, if not openly hostile, are at least indifferent to all religion,”against which trend God called Julie, whose religious order was a teachingorder.38In her hagiography, Sister Mary Fidelis does not address a specificcontemporary political crisis, such as the secularization of schools; instead, sheuses Julie’s life to ifiustrate the general horrors of republicanism andEnlightenment philosophy, horrors which, she argues, stifi threaten hercontemporary readers. The book begins with a description of Julie fleeing fromrepublican persecutors; Julie, hidden in the back of a wagon underneath hay,barely escaped. Throughout the book, jabs are made at republicans andagnostics. An acquaintance’s illness was more difficult to bear because he hadno faith, the consequence of his having read Voltaire.39 Napoleon is the targetof other attacks: Sister Mary Fidelis describes Julie’s disgust with two soldiers,happy to give their lives for Napoleon, “these hero-worshippers of a humanruler.”4° For both hagiographers, Julie Billiart was more than a pious nun, more37James Clare, editor and author of preface, The Life of the Blessed julie Billart: Foundressof the Insitute of Sisters of Notre Dame (1897; reprint, London: Sands and Co., 1909), xvi.38Jbjd vxii-xix.39Sister Mary Fidelis, As Gold in the Furnace, 52.40Ibid., 175.26than a faithful practitioner of heroic virtue; she was a useful example fortwentieth-century Catholics, a woman who resisted the predominant culture ofunbelief and materialism, a woman whose struggles were the very same as thestruggles facing contemporary Catholics.Maria GorettiMaria was born on October 16, 1890, in Corinaldo, Italy, to extremelypoor, pious tenant farmers. She was a pious child, the particular favourite ofher parents, who saw to it that she received an early religious education. Hermother made sure she was baptized as soon as possible--the day after birth--because to her mother “original sin was a horrible reality and she wanted herfree from it at the first possible moment.”41 Despite their extreme poverty, theGorettis had plenty of children, confident that God would provide. The Gorettishoped to find better farming in another part of Italy, so they moved toNettuno, a tiny community about 30 miles southeast of Rome.In Nettuno, the Gorettis shared a home to save money with the Serenellifamily, who were also tenant farmers, but not as faithful as the Gorettis.Giovanni Serenelli was an alcoholic who occasionally stole things and managedto get both himself and Maria’s father in trouble. The Gorettis were never ableto pull themselves out of debt. Their poverty worsened after the death ofMaria’s father when she was not quite ten years old. Maria did her best tohelp the family. As the oldest child, she ran the household so her mother couldwork the fields. She volunteered to walk several miles to a market to sell eggsevery Saturday--a long and arduous journey which she undertook in her barefeet, where she endured not only physical hardship but the taunting andteasing of the town children and the potential corruption from contact with41Marie Cecilia Buelirle, Saint Maria Goretti (1950: second reprint, Milwaukee: The BrucePublishing Co., 1951), 39.27town life. The corruptions of town life never had any effect on her: Maria wasalways outstandingly pious. When the village adults went on a pilgrimage of acouple of days’ journey to a shrine for the Virgin Mary, Maria organized aprocession of neighbourhood children to the local shrine. Because her ownmother could not read, Maria sought instruction in the catechism from aneighbour, which enabled her to receive an early first communion.After the death of her father, the Serenellis became increasingly abusiveof the Goretti family. As Alfred MacConastair explains, “Giovanni Serenellisensed his unlimited power over the bereaved widow and her children nowthat Luigi was out of the way, and he made no secret of the satisfaction it gavehim.”42 The Serenellis demanded that the Gorettis cook their meals, laundertheir clothes, and clean up after them--all of these chores fell to Maria, the newmistress of the household. The Gorettis, even more impoverished after Luigisdeath, felt powerless to resist because they could not afford to move.Furthermore, the Serenellis’ morals were lax; Giovanni drank too much; one ofthe sons, Alessandro, cursed and read newspapers and magazines withphotographs of scantily clad women, photographs which he placed on the wallsof his bedroom.Nineteen-year-old Alessandro was attracted to Maria. When she wasjust eleven years old, he began to remark on her appearance, to flirt with her.He propositioned her when she was alone in the barn doing chores. Sherefused him and pushed him away when he tried to kiss her. His attentionspersisted: in fact, he became more threatening. He told her that she mustsubmit to him or die, and he threatened to kill her if she told anyone. Afterweeks of harrassment, during which time Maria grew thin, pale, and sad,42Alfred MacConastair, Lily of the Marshes: The Story of Maria Goretti (New York:MacMillan Company, 1951), 62.28Alessandro found her alone in the house one day, in the kitchen washing up,while everyone else was in the fields working. Again, Alessandro demandedthat she have sex with him; he said he would kill her if she did not. Accordingto Maconastair, Maria had a choice--sex or death--and she consciously chosedeath rather than the loss of her virginity:The dagger rose, poised. Her body shrank in terror. Voicespounded in her ears. “Nod your head! Nod your head!” But she wouldnot.He would take her by force then, before killing her. He threwher on the bench. She struggled violently. He could have her lifebut not her chastity. That she would never surrender.43Alessandro stabbed her more than a dozen times. Her screams brought herfamily to the house, but not in time. Maria did not die immmediately,however; she was rushed to the hospital and lived two days before dying.While Maria was in the hospital, her mother learned, to her relief, thatAlessandro had not raped her. According to MacConastair, Maria’s mother wasuneasy till she learned this: “Something else, however, was gnawing at hermother’s heart. The thoughtful doctor understood. He assured Assunta thather daughter had not lost the virginity which she had fought so bravely todefend.”44 After having forgiven Alessandro for stabbing her, Maria died July6, 1902. Years later, Alessandro saw a vision of Maria while he was in prison;he then repented and became a faithful Catholic; he even served as a witnessduring her canonization hearings.As with Gemma Galgani and Julie Billiart, Maria’s hagiographers used herlife to express anti-modern attitudes. For both Buehrle and MacConastair,431b1d., 156.44Ibid., 166.29Maria’s death could be partly blamed on the influence of the media. Buehrlementions that Alessandro was reading the TrJ.buna Illustralathe front page of which had a picture of a man with his hands around awoman’s throat.45 Macconastair’s condemnation of the media is even stronger:he refers to the photographs of women Alessandro kept on his walls aspornography; it was these images, MacConastair argues, that encouragedAlessandro to think of trying to rape Maria. But Maria’s hagiographers are lesspolitically motivated than Julie Billiart’s or Gemma Galgani’s: the significance oftheir interpretation of Maria’s life is their creation of a new type of femaleheroine, based in part on a new understanding of the Virgin Mary. Maria asfemale heroine wifi be discussed in chapter three.Hagiographers understood all three of these saints not just as deeplyreligious women whose lives had religious relevance to the pious, but also aswomen whose lives had political relevance to contemporary Catholics.Politically, their lives demonstrate the importance of opposing modernity--ofresisting materialism, republicanism, Enlightenment philosophy, thesecularization of schools, and the popular press. The saints oppose culture; theyare not portrayed as products of their societies and their times but asantitheses to their contemporary culture. Their lives are used to promoteconservative- -if not reactionary--political woridviews. In chapter two I willexamine three popes’ interpretations of these women’s lives. Based on whatMary Daly and others have written about the conservatism of the papacy inparticular and the Catholic church in general, we would expect to find thepopes’ attitudes essentially similar to the hagiographers: that these saints’ lives45Marie Cecilia Buehrle, Saint Maria Goretti. 94.30provided an opportunity to express opposition to modernity in general andfeminism in particular.46 In fact, the papacy’s position on modernity andfeminism was not static, nor was John XXIII’s reign the only time in whichdifferent attitudes toward modernity and feminism were expressed. Inchapter two, I describe the subtle yet significant shift in the papacy’s positionon feminism as expressed through canonization speeches.46Mary Daly. The Church and the Second Sex 107-124. Daly did, however, describe JohnXXIII’s reign as a refreshing if brief change from papal misogyny. But, she argues, PaulVI was a return to conservatism.31CHAPTER TWOFrom Antifeminism to Maternal Feminism:Papal Interpretations of Saints as ExemplarsPapal attitudes towards women began changing long before the secondVatican Council (1962-1965), the ecumenical council called by Pope John XXIII(1958-1963) which is widely believed to have initiated changes in the church’sattitudes towards women.1 As Richard Camp argues, popes since Leo XIII(1878-1903) increasingly sought the support of women in the lay movementknown as Catholic Action, a program of social and religious reform which wasfounded late in the reign of Leo’s predecessor, Pius IX; consequently, popesbegan to voice their appreciation for women’s contributions outside the home.2Before the reign of Leo XIII, popes argued that women should be subordinateto men because of Eve’s role in the Fall; marriage was not a union of two equalpartners because the woman must always remain subordinate to her husband.Leo XIII himself did not support women’s equality, but his encouragement ofCatholic Action--and his moderate liberal (as opposed to Pius IX’s reactionary)perspective on society--enabled his successors to develop Catholic Action into avehicle whereby women could leave their homes to promote and defendCatholic social and spiritual values.3 Benedict XV (1914-1922) supportedfemale suffrage, and Pius XI (1922-1939), despite many traditional views heheld about women, supported women’s involvement in Catholic Action. AsCamp argues, Pius Xl’s “determination to defend the Church with an organized,1See, for example, Sally Cunneen, Sex: Female: Religion: Catholic (New York. Chicago. SanFrancisco: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968). 10-21.2Richard L. Camp, “From Passive Subordination to Complementary Partnership: The PapalConception of a Woman’s Place in Church and Society since 1878’ The Catholic HistoricalReview 76(July 1990): 507.3lbid., 5O7-51 1.32disciplined laity partly overcame his traditionalist biases about a woman’splace.”4 Pius XII (1939-1958) not only supported women’s right to vote, heencouraged them to vote and involve themselves in politics and governmentbecause he hoped Catholic women voters could prevent Communist victories atthe polls in Italy. And, finally, John XXIII and Paul VI (1963-1978) supportedthe equality of rights between the sexes.5 Overall, papal views of women’sposition in society changed dramatically during the twentieth century--from,as Richard Camp describes it, women’s passive subordination in marriage andsociety to women’s “complementary partnership” with men in marriage andsociety.Although twentieth century popes increasingly supported women’sactive participation in society in order to strengthen the power of the church,all of these popes argued that women were essentially different than men--that their roles should be different than men’s but should be valued equally.6Papal support of women’s participation in society rested on the belief thatwomen and men have different natures; their support for women’s activityoutside the home was always tempered with warnings that women must notneglect their primary calling--the care of their husbands and children. Becauseof their belief in the fundamental difference between men’s and women’snatures, popes usually disagreed with feminist arguments for women’sparticipation in society because many feminists rejected the belief in afundamental difference between men’s and women’s natures. But even papalpolicy towards feminism changed during the twentieth century. Pius XIIregarded feminism as inimical to women’s best interests: feminism strips4lbid., 515.5lbid., 516-521.6lbid., 524-525.33women of their natural dignity and encourages women to abandon theirnatural vocation, motherhood and marriage. But Paul VI acknowledged thatfeminists had legitimate complaints about the condition of women in society:rather than opposing them as Pius XII did, he tried to show feminists that, forthe most part, feminist and Catholic values were not incompatible. The rest ofthis chapter considers each pope--Pius, John, and Paul--separately; withparticular reference to papal canonization speeches and speeches on the role ofwomen, I will explain why papal attitudes towards feminism changed fromPiu&s reign to Paul’s reign.Pope Pius XII (1939-1958)Pope Pius XII brought a strong interest in Italian politics and anextremely conservative political orientation to the office of the Holy See. Thegrandson of a Vatican official under Pius IX, the son of a financial adviser tomore than one pope, Pius XII, born Eugenio Pacelli, had ‘been groomed for (thepapacy) almost from the moment his predecessor was elected or, as some of hiscritics felt, from birth.”7 Pius XII continued Pius Xl’s policy of trusting thepolitical right more than the left.8 Before the elections of 1948 in Italy, PiusXII tried to ally the Christian Democratic party with the right rather than theleft, and he funnelled money to several right-wing candidates who weresupportive of the church. A decisive victory for the Christian Democratsprevented an alliance with the neo-Fascists or the monarchists to ensuremajority rule, but, had a coalition government been necessary, there is littledoubt that Pius would have demanded a coalition with the right-wing parties.97Francis Xavier Murphy. The Papacy Today (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981), 57-58.jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control over Lay Catholic Elites(Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1980), 186.9lbid., 199.34Pius’s aversion to the left was firmly rooted in his philosophy: as Francis XavierMurphy explains, Pius had developed “an absolute phobia against atheisticcommunism;” “he had nightmares that strengthened his conviction of theliterally diabolical nature of the communist system, likening it to thedominations and powers of preternatural evil spoken of by St. Paul.”O Inopposing corn tnunism, in opposing all threats from the left, Pius’s strategy wasoriented not so much to appeasing discontented Catholic workers and socialistsas to opposing them. For example, he removed Archbishop Charbonneau ofMontreal from office because of the Archbishop’s sympathies for the workersduring an important strike; in 1939 he placed Catholic Action under the controlof the clergy in order to keep its policies and activities right-wing; even afterWorld War II, when the laity regained some control of Catholic Action, theclergy still held most of the power. Because many of the clergymen in chargeof Catholic Action had been supporters of fascism, numbers of liberal andsocialist lay people left Catholic Action.11 Pius opposed socialism andcommunism; he did not try to persuade Catholics that communist and Catholicgoals were similar: he tried to show Catholics that communists were wrong’210Francis Xavier Murphy, The Papacy Today. 62.lJean.Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power. 57.50.12See, for example, Pius’s “Address to the Representatives of Italian Workers” on January13. 1943 in Michael Chiningo, editor, The Teachings of Pope Pius XII (London: Methuenand Co., 1958), 328-329. Pius makes the following remarks about communism: “The Church,guardian and instructor of truth, in her assertion and bold defence of the rights of theworking population, on various occasions opposing error, has had to put our people onguard against letting themselves be deluded by the mirage of specious and fatuoustheories and visions of future well-being or by the deceitful lures and urgings of falseteachers of social prosperity who call bad good and good bad and who, claiming to be thefriends of the people, do not permit the mutual agreements between capital and labourand between employers and employed that maintain and promote harmony for theprogress and benefit of all.”35Similarly, Pius tried to point out the errors of feminism to Catholics.Feminism, he argued, strips women of their dignity and deprives Catholic girlsof suitable role models:The daughter of a woman of fashion, who sees the supervision of herhome left to strangers and her mother engrossed in frivolousoccupations and futile amusements, will follow her example, will wantto emancipate herself as early as possible and, according to a trulysad expression, ‘live her own life. How could she conceive the desireto become some day a real ‘dointha,’ that is, the mistress of the house,in a happy, prosperous, worthy family? As for the working classes,obliged to earn their daily bread, the woman, if she were to reflectproperly, would probably realize that the extra earnings which shesecures by working outside her home are easily devoured by otherexpenses or even by waste, which is ruinous for the economy of thefamily.In the face of theories and methods which, from differentapproaches, strip woman of her mission and, with the mirage ofunbridled emancipation, or in the reality of a hopeless misery, divesther of her personal dignity, her woman’s dignity, we have heard acry of apprehension which invokes, as much as possible, her activepresence at the domestic hearth.13Later in the speech, Pius acknowledges that some women cannot afford not towork outside the home; because of this situation, Catholic women are calledupon to improve the plight of poor women, to make sure social conditions existwhereby poor women can stay home. Men, he argued, should applythemselves to business and public affairs to improve social conditions, whilewomen should apply themselves to “tasks which call for tact, delicate feelings,and maternal instinct, rather than administrative rigidity,” such asrehabilitating discharged prisoners and delinquent girls.14According to Pius XII, Christianity is not innately sexist; in fact,Christianity was responsible for the improvement of women’s position in13Pope Pius XII, The Teachings of Pooe Pius XIL M. Chinigo, ed., 64-65.14Ibid., 65-66.36society, as the quote from Paul- -that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek,slave nor freeman, male nor female--demonstrates.15Furthermore, thechurch’s exaltation of Mary as a model for women lishows the high esteem thatChristianity nourishes for womanhood and the immense trust which the Churchherself rests in woman’s power for good.”6 Provided that women do notneglect family life, women can be involved in “politics, labor, the arts, sports.”17According to Pius, Catholicism provided all women would need: they couldwork outside the home, as long as they did not neglect their family, which,ultimately, they would not want to do because the family provides women witha greater sense of fulfillment than anything else; feminism, by contrast, offeredfalse promises of emancipation--a neglect of family, a loss of morality, and aconsequent decline in the dignity of women.Canonization speeches provided Pius perfect opportunities to show thatCatholicism--not feminism, which he often equated with libertinism and sexuallooseness--promised women the greatest opportunities for satisfaction andfulfillment. In his speech at the canonization of Maria Crocifossa Rosa, heexplained how she was an appropriate example for contemporary women toimitate:She renounced all vanity, every use of fashion, every worldlyentertainment, every indulgence in material pleasures, every offerof marriage. She undertook the care of girls and ordinary women,bore criticism patiently, especially those of deluded libertines, andjoyfully distributed her goods to the needy18As much as Pius advocated marriage and motherhood for Catholic women, henevertheless believed that a woman who renounced marriage to enter a15Pope PiusXlI, The Pope Soeaks 3 (Spring 1957): 369t6Ibid., 367.t7IbId., 370.18Pope PiusXII. The Pone Sneaks 1 (Summer 1954): 169.37convent led a still more exalted life: ‘Virginity is like an angelic way of life andby its excellence is a state superior to that of matrimony.”9 Despite theirstatus as virgins, nuns were still, essentially, mothers: they brought theirnurturing and tenderness to their vocations, carefully serving whomeverrequired help, as Maria Crocifossa Rosa did in her service to girls. According toPius’s understanding, there was no contradiction in proposing a nun as a modelfor married Catholic women: both virgins and mothers could provide the sametypes of service to the world because both had a feminine nature, defined asnurturing, gentle, and kind.Married women were not asked to imitate the physical austerities ofsome of the saints--of Margaret of Hungary, for example, a thirteenth-centurynun who followed a rigorously ascetic regime. At age six, she begged to beallowed to wear a hair shirt; throughout her short life--she died at age 28--shefasted, slept little, never bathed, and performed exhausting menial labour.20Nevertheless, she still provided a useful example for contemporary Catholicswho enjoyed comfort all too well:And who would deny that the world needed then, and still needs nowthat kind of lesson which makes it blush with shame for its unbridledworship of the flesh, its longing for pleasure, its immodesty in dress,and its constant pursuit of the esteem and praise of men?2tAlthough Pius does not explicitly mention feminists in this speech, his criticismof them is implicit: he criticizes ‘immodesty in dress’ and “longing forpleasure,” characteristics which he ascribed in other speeches to feminists,whom he failed to distinguish from “libertines.” Overall, however much Piust9Pope Pius XII, The Pope Sneaks 5 (Summer 1958): 99.20From preface by Benet O’Driscoll to Sister Mary Catherine, Margaret. Princess ofHungary: A Newly Canonized Saint (Oxford: Blackfriars, 1945), 7.21Pope Pius XII, The Pope Speaks 5 (Autumn 1959): 443.38may have wanted Catholic women to leave the home to participate in CatholicAction, he did not want them to adopt the values he thought feminists wereadvocating--a preference for a career over family life, distaste for housework,work outside the home when it was not absolutely financially necessary,immodest dress, and greater sexual freedom. In canonizations speeches, hedescribed newly canonized women as having rejected those values he thoughtfeminists promoted: for Pius, saints were women who had rejected“emancipation” and dedicated themselves to a life of service or austerity, allthe while maintaining their natural femininity. For Pius, saints stood inopposition to contemporary secular values.John XXIII (1958-1963)Born to a peasant family in Italy, Angelo Roncalli (John XXIII) did notacquire any exposure to Vatican politics until well into adulthood--a sharpcontrast with Pius Xli’s upbringing. Relegated to insignificant Vaticandiplomatic posts such as Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece, Roncalli seemed destinedfor a minor career in Vatican diplomacy, were it not for two unusualcircumstances. In 1944, Charles de Gaulle demanded the recall of the papalnuncio to Paris, Archbishop Valerio Valeri, who had maintained diplomaticrelations with the Vichy government.22 The pope’s first choice for nuncio wastoo ill to fill the appointment immediately; against Cardinal Tardini’s advice,the pope appointed Roncalli, whom the pope described as the “easygoingfellow” in Istanbul.23 Whoever held the post in Paris almost inevitably becamea cardinal, and therefore one of the select few who were considered for thepapacy.22Wiftin Wynn, Keepers of the Keys (New York: Random House, 1988), 18,23Jbjd,, 19.39After an unexpected rise to the position of cardinal, Roncalli experiencedanother unexpected elevation--to the office of the Holy See. When Pius XIIdied, the clear favourite for the papacy--Giovanni Montini, later Paul VI--hadnot yet become a cardinal and could not consequently be considered for thepapacy. After Pius’s relatively long 19-year reign, the conclave was eager for ashorter papacy: John was old (77 years), Italian (the conclave had been electingItalian popes for 400 years), and, to members of the conclave, he seemed to bereliable and unadventurous, unlikely to do anything unusual. The conclavethought they were electing a safe, short-term, transitional pope.24Because of his unconventional career, John XXIII was less steeped inVatican politics than his predecessor, so his actions and policies were not aspolitically explicit as Pius’s. As Jean-Guy Vaillancourt explains, “Paul VI andPius XII, by career, class origin, and the political involvement of their ownfamilies, were both predisposed to become political popes, but Paul perhapsproved a more astute conservative politician than the last of the Pius popes. Incontrast, John XXIII, with his very different background and Church career,was not an Italian politician, and his perspectives can be said to have beenoriented more toward religion and the international scene rather than towardthe specific Italian political struggles.”25John is best known for having called Vatican II, the ecumenical churchcouncil responsible for a range of moderate church reforms. Widelyremembered as a liberal, John in fact held a range of liberal and conservativeviews. Unlike his predecessors, he endorsed trade unions--even autonomoustrade unions not under the control of the state (as they were during Mussolini’s24Ibid., 20-23.25Jeaii-Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power. 232.40dictatorship) or the church;26he distinguished between ‘communism as anatheistic creed, and as a political, social and economic theory that one had tocontend with in the historical order,’ thereby giving himself philosophicaljustification for talking with socialist leaders and journalists and members ofcommunist governments;27his tolerance and openness had limits, however,such as when he suppressed Frances worker-priest experiment--themovement in which priests laboured in factories in order to befriend theworking class.28 Theologically, John was more conservative: he was devoted tothe saints, frequently celebrated the Mass, said his rosary, and enjoyed theLatin services and the pomp and ritual of the Catholic church.29 But, althoughhe loved the traditional church rituals and forms of piety, “he also saw that itsstructures and even its theological expressions were completely inadequate tothe task Christ had set before it--to preach the Gospel to every creature. Thisvision, turned into a conviction, was behind his calling of the Council.”30 Thisvision--international and primarily religious, not political--informed Johnsunderstanding of the saints he canonized and the ways he communicated theirsignificance to the world.Unlike Pius XII, John did not use canonization ceremonies asopportunities to comment on the role of women in society. instead, heemphasized the international origins of the women he beatified and canonized.At Elizabeth Bayley Seton’s beatification in 1963, John described the firstAmerican-born saint as a tribute to the United States; he praised the UnitedStates because “America’s citizens have explored the sea and the skies; they26Wifton Wynn, Keepers of the Keys. 220-221.27Fncis Xavier Murphy, The Papacy Today. 87.28WilWn Wynn, Keepers of the Keys. 49.29Francis Xavier Murphy, The Papacy Today. 7783.30Ibid., 77.41have completed excellent undertakings; they have given openhandedhospitality and employment to immigrants from every land.li31 Similarly, Johnemphasized the uniqueness of Marguerite dYouville’s geographical originswhen he beatified her in 1960: “This is the first time that a flower of sanctityspringing up from the very soil of Canada is blooming under the arches of St.Peter’s.’32Although d’Youville led a life very similar to the lives led by saintscanonized by Pius XII, John does not use her life--or other saints’ lives--tomake derogatory remarks about feminism, contemporary fashion, orcontemporary sexual morality. His remarks are more general; about d’Youville,for example, he says the following--She was a virtuous wife during misfortunes, a widow of dignity andcourage, an exemplary mother, who bad the consolation of seeingascend the two sons who alone survived of the six children born ofher union with Francois dYouville...,.Supernatural love for the poor, the sick, the abandoned, was the secretstrength which animated this great soul. To be good, to be simple, tobe respectful and tender towards those who suffer, who arehumiliated by their physical or moral condition; to spread among themsmiles and the consolation of friendship; to radiate upon everyone thewarmth of a charity constantly renewed by meditation on the Heartof Christ. . ., that is the lesson of her life.33John did emphasize the important roles women play in society in hiscanonization speeches: at the canonization of Bertilla Boscardin, for example, hepraised her mother’s effectiveness in raising Bertilla, “Where there is a motherwho has faith, who prays and who raises her children as Christians, heavenlygrace cannot be wanting.”3431John XXIII, The Pope Sneaks 8 (Winter 1963): 338.32john XXIII, The Pope Sneaks 6 (Summer 1960): 277.33Ibid., 277-278.34John XXIII, The Pope Sneaks 7 (Summer 1961): 98.42But John does not argue that Bertilla opposed contemporary secularsociety in choosing to raise her children as Christians: unlike Pius, John does notplace the saints he canonized in opposition to contemporary secular values.Furthermore, John does not discuss the essential femininity of married andunmarried saints: in stressing the importance of good Christian mothers, Johnused Bertilla’s mother as an example, not Bertilla herself (who was not amother), whereas Pius discussed the motherly qualities of nuns who served thepoor, the sick, and so forth. John believed in a fundamental difference betweenmen and women, but he did not use canonization speeches to promote the ideaof the essential feminine nature of all women. John did not use canonizationspeeches as an opportunity to comment on the role of women in society, but toreach out to a wider audience--to Americans and Canadians, who had their firstnative-born citizens declared blessed by John, and to blacks, who, John hoped,would be inspired by the canonization of Martin de Porres, a seventeenth-century black from Peru, in whom “was epitomized the kind of result theChurch hopes to see come from the ecumenical council.”35 Feminism was a lesspressing political concern to John than the need to reach out to Catholicsbeyond Italy and Europe: his canonization speeches reflect this priority.Paul VI (1963-1978)Born to a bourgeois church-oriented family in northern Italy, GiovanniBattista Montini (Paul VI) was carefully groomed for the papacy--or at least anoutstanding church career--by both his family and his association with EugenioPacelli, or Pius XII. His father was a banker and entrepreneur with controllinginterest in a local newspaper; he also dedicated himself to promoting Catholiccauses, and later in life served as a member of the Italian parliament. His3SJohn XXIII, The Pope Sneaks 8 (Spring 1962): 3.43mother was equally dedicated to the church; she was a “determined activist”for charities.36 As a young man, Giovanni Montini became interested in theliberal Catholic thinkers Jacques Maritain and Jean Guitton, whose theologyhelped shape Montini’s own theology and politics.37 After graduating from theVatican’s College of Nobles, he served in the papal curia, eventually becomingsecretary to Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli,38with whom he developed a ‘father andson” relationship.39 The close relationship with the pope lasted many years- -until 1953 or 1954, when relations began to strain. Wilton Wynn explains thebreakdown of the relationship as the result of increasingly divergent politicalviews between the two. Although Montini had mistrusted fascism in the1930s--he thought fascism was a greater threat than communism--, theirpolitical differences did not become an issue for Pius until much later, whenPius grew concerned over Montini’s involvement in youth movements andwhen the Vatican-approved journal La Yvita Catlolica thoroughly criticizedthe ideas of Montinis intellectual mentor, Jacques Maritain.40 Pius never madeMontini a cardinal, so Montini was not considered for the papacy when Piusdied.But John XXIII did make Montini a cardinal, and Montini was electedpope in the belief that he would carry out John’s moderate liberal reforms,despite the vehement opposition of the conservatives within the curia (whovoted for the conservative Cardinal Ildebrando Antoniutti).4’As pope, Paulhas been classified as both a liberal and a conservative, depending on36Fraacis Xavier Murphy, The Paoacv Today. 118.37Ibid.381b1d 118-119.39Wilton Wynn, Keepers of the Keys, 25.40Ibid.. 25-27.4tIbid,, 29-30.44which of his decisions are being discussed. He did immediately abolish theCongregation of the Holy Office, with its notorious Inquisition and Index ofForbidden Books;42 he negotiated with communist governments, includingcontinental China;43 he established the Pontifical Commission for Justice andPeace, many of whose members were involved in the struggles in LatinAmerica and were exponents of liberation theology;44 and his encyclicalPopulorum Progressio acknowledged the need for revolution when a peoplehas been subjected to prolonged and repressive dictatorship:45these decisionsaccount for Paul’s reputation as a liberal. But in his encyclical Jluinanae Vitaehe maintained the ban on artificial contraception as a means of birth control,despite the recommendation of his special commission endorsing the use ofcontraception;46in 1976, he decided to continue the ban on the ordination ofwomen because of women’s inability to “represent Christ”;47 during the lateryears of his pontificate, he began to criticize the liberals he had oncesupported--he retired the liberal Cardinal Lercaro of Bologna and launched asecret investigation of the progressive theologian Edward Schillebeeckx:48thesedecisions account for Paul’s reputation as a conservative. Jean-Guy solves thedilemma of Paul’s poltical and theological orientation by classifying him as aprogressive-conservative, to the left of Pius XII and the right of John XXIII:“Unlike Pius XII, Paul VI was not a reactionary and authoritarian leader of42Francis Xavier Murphy, The Papacy Today. 121.43Ibid., 123.44Wilton Wynn, Keeners of the Keys. 221-222.4516id.46Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power. 215.47Rosemary Radford Ruether, “John Paul II and the Growing Alienation of Women fromthe Church” in Hans Kung and Leonard Swidler, editors, The Church in Anguish: Has theVatican Betrayed Vatican II? (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), 282.48Jean-Guy Vaillan court, Paoal Power. 215.45men. He was rather a sensitive and modest liberal turned more conservativebecause difficult circumstances pushed him in that direction.”49Paul was faced with greater opposition both within and outside of thechurch than either John or Pius had faced. Within the church, the laity hadbecome organized and angry; at the third World Congress for the LayApostolate in 1967, lay leaders demanded greater democracy within thechurch.50 In 1969, 40 theologians published a manifesto asking for “greaterfreedom of inquiry and expression” in the church.5’ Outside the church, thesocialist party, for whom Paul had less and less sympathy, was gaining supportat the expense of the Catholic church-oriented Christian Democratic party; in1976, after the church had lobbied unsuccessfully to have a law permittingdivorce in Italy rescinded, the Christian Democratic party lost another block ofvoters--significant numbers of working-class Catholics voted for thecommunists.52 Faced with evidence that the Vatican’s influence in Italianpolitics was declining, especially because of the church’s failure to persuadevoters to reject the divorce law, Paul tried to appeal to Catholics with amoderate reformist agenda which nevertheless fell short of Catholics’--particularly Italian Catholics’--expectations.53Many Catholic women, especially Catholic feminists, were angry aboutPaul’s birth control decision in 1968, his opposition to the 1970 divorce law inItaly, and his explanation in 1976 of why women could not be ordained. Towin back support from disgruntled Catholic women, or at least to keep otherCatholic women from becoming disgruntled, Paul VI tried to appeal to the49Ibid., 210.50Ibid., 157.51Ibid,, 217.521b1d, 218, 243.53Ibid., 243-257.46interests of Catholic women in his canonization speeches: he described newfemale saints as women who led active, modern lives, not unlike the livesfeminists allegedly admired. When he canonized Elizabeth Bayley Seton (shehad been beatified by John XXIII) in 1975, he remarked that “we are pleasedto note that this event coincides with an initiative of the United Nations:International Women’s Year.”54 According to Paul, her life was eminentlyworthy of emulation by modern women, women who defined themselves in“modern” terms--as active rather than passive members of society:(International Women’s Year) aims at promoting an awarenessof the obligation incumbent on all to recognize the true role ofwomen in the world and to contribute to their authentic advancement in society. And we rejoice at the bond that is establishedbetween this progam and today’s canonization as the Churchrenders the greatest honor possible to Elizabeth Ann Bayley Setonand extols her personal and extraordinary contribution as awoman--a wife, a mother, a widow, and religious. May thedynamism and authenticity of her life be an example in ourday--and for generations to come--of what women can and mustaccomplish, in the fulfillment of their role, for the good of humanity.55Similarly, Paul tried to appeal to ‘modern” women when he argued that theVirgin was a suitable exemplar for modern women not because she was adevoted mother or pure virgin, but because she was strong and courageous:“The modern woman will note with glad surprise that Mary of Nazareth, whilecompletely devoted to the will of God, was far from being a timidly submissivewoman or one whose piety was repellent to others; on the contrary shedid not hesitate to proclaim that God vindicates the humble and oppressed,and removes the powerful people of this world from their privilegedpositions.”56 Whereas Pius XII praised the women he canonized as54p,i VI, The Pope Speaks 20(Winter 1975): 207.55lbid.56pil VI, The Pope Speaks 19(Spring 1974): 75.47opponents of contemporary secular values, particularly feminist values, PaulVI tried to show that the women he canonized represented some contemporarysecular values--again, especially feminist values.Feminists may not have found Pauls speeches satisying. As MarinaWarner, a feminist scholar, explained when she commented on Paul’s 1974speech on the Virgin Mary, ‘The Vatican cannot simply strip away a veil andreveal Mary’s metamorphosis into the New Woman unless it dredges centuriesof prejudice. Its incapacity to do this is complete: the teleological view that thenatural law ordains that women must bear and suffer underpins the Church’scontinuing indefensible ban on contraception; a dualistic distaste for thematerial world reinforces the ideal of virginity; and an undiminished certaintythat women are subordinate to men continues to make the priesthood ofwomen unacceptable.”57 Paul may very well have failed to persuade Catholicfeminists that he was describing feminist saints who were honoured by afeminist church, but his decision to acknowledge and try to appeal to feministswas itself significant--a clear departure from Pius’s decision to oppose them.In a speech to the Italian Women’s Center on December 6, 1976, Paul made hismost positive remarks about feminism--that feminists, like the earlyChristians, were engaged in a mission to restore women’s dignity as humanbeings: “like the Church of the first age, the Church of today cannot but be onthe side of women, especially where, instead of being treated as active,responsible subjects, they are reduced to the status of passive, insignificantobjects, as happens in some work situations, in degenerate exploitation of themass media, in social relations and in the family. It might be said that forsome men women are the easiest tool to use in expressing their impulses to57Marina Warner. Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary (New York:Vintage Books, 1976). 338.48outrageous violence. This explains and to some extent makes intelligible thebitterness and vehemence with which various feminist groups seek toretaliate.38 As “a well-organized and experienced Catholic feministmovement,” Paul endorsed the efforts of the Italian Women’s Center topromote the status of women59--a minor victory for the Catholic feministmovement, perhaps, but a significant one because it represented a change fromearlier papal policies which opposed feminism.Paul’s policy towards feminism can be understood cynically as an effortto co-opt feminists, not to meet their demands. Jean-Guy Vaillancourt argued asimilar point when he discussed Paul’s policies towards the workers: his effortsto make himself thought of as the “archbishop of the workers” were motivatedas much by a desire for the workers not to become communists as by a desirefor social justice.6° Similarly, Paul’s refusal to permit artificial contraception,his refusal to ordain women, as well as his occasional denunciation of “radicalfeminists’61--what others would call ordinary, liberal feminists--make itdifficult to conclude that Paul’s concerns were feminist, however much heclaimed they were. At the very least, they were not feminist concerns in theway that feminists of the time would have defined them, such as members ofSt. Joan’s International Alliance, for example, who lobbied for women’s58Paul VI, The Pooe Speaks 22(Spring 1977): 23.59Ibid., 25.60Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power. 210.61See, for example. The Pope Speaks 21(summer 1976): 165; Paul VI says, “We wish also toput you on guard against some deviations which can affect the contemporary movementfor the advancement of women. Equalization of rights must not be allowed to degenerateinto an egalitarian and impersonal elimination of differences. The egalitarianism blindlysought by our materialistic society has but little care for the specific good of persons;contrary to appearances it is unconcerned with what is suitable or unsuitable to women.There is, thus, a danger of unduly masculinizing women or else simply depersonalizingthem. In either case, the deepest things in women suffer.”49ordination as early as 1967.62 Nevertheless, in choosing to try to co-opt ratherthan oppose feminists, Paul adopted a conciliatory stance towards feminismwhich was reflected in his canonization speeches. Paul’s “feminism” is bestunderstood as maternal feminism, a conservative branch of feminism whichpromotes the active role of women in society because of their alleged nurturingqualities. Paul opposed what are known as equal rights or liberal feminists,those who argue for women’s equality because of their status as persons, notbecause of any special claim they make to having nurturing, gentle qualities.But Paul did acknowledge that, in many cases, liberal feminists had legitimategrievances with society. More than Pius XII, Paul tried to persuade Catholicwomen that Catholicism embraced feminism, albeit only one kind of feminism--maternal feminism; Paul therefore tried to demonstrate that saints did notmerely oppose secular values, but they embraced some of them.This shift in papal policy from opposition to feminism to attempts atconciliation with feminism should not be understood as irreversible: papalattitudes towards feminism depend on who is occupying the office of the HolySee. The papacy is not generally becoming more liberal; John Paul II’s reignhas been conservative. John Paul II has issued more warnings about feminismthan Paul VI; both believe in the idea of “complementary partnership” betweenmen and women. John Paul II has warned against equal rights feminismbecause it denies the feminine part of women’s nature: “In fact, (equal rightsfeminism) would end up being detrimental and unjust to those, the women,whom it claims to want to protect.”63 His canonization speeches are morereminiscent of Pius Xii’s than of John XXI11’s or Paul Vi’s: he emphasizes the62Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power. 12 1-122.63John Paul IL The Pope Speaks 37 (January/February 1992): 330.50essential femininity of the saint rather than her “modern” qualities of activityoutside the home. In a speech commemorating the 600th anniversary of St.Birgitta’s canonization, he discusses the feminine qualities of the saint, not hersimilarity to ‘modern” women:Birgitta appears to everyone who wants to know her and follow in herfootsteps as the vithint womw who has left a special mark of herfemininity on the house and court where she lived; as the JzftbfuJspouse who was led to a mystical marriage with Christ; as the sdvntlymother who wanted to pass on to her children the secrets of eternalsalvation; as the modelReligious who spent her life in love and wasconsumed with a desire to ‘annihilate herself’ in God.64Although all four of the popes studied commented on saints whose lives werequite similar--most were nuns who served the poor and the sick--all fouremphasized different aspects of their lives in order to promote each pope’sreligious or political worldview: for Pius XII, it was the essential femininity andanti-feminism of the saints; for John XXIII, the international origins of thesaints; for Paul VI, the compatibility of the saints’ lives with modern values,even with some aspects of feminism; for John Paul II, the essential femininityof the saints (both Paul VI and John Paul II emphasized unique geographicalorigins of saints when they came from countries outside of Western Europe).Paul Vi’s efforts to appeal to feminists were hampered by his belief inthe differences between men and women--the existence of an essentialmasculinity and an essential femininity--which demands that men and womenperform different roles of equal value. In denying women the right toordination, Paul VI appealed to this argument again: women have a differentfunction than men do; only men should serve as priests. Priests, he argued,64Ibid., 39.51were representatives of Christ on earth; because Christ was male, only mencould legitimately serve as priests, the representatives of Christ:The priest is a sign, the supernatural efficacy of which derives fromordination. The meaning of the sign must be perceived and thefaithful should be able to grasp it readily. The whole sacramentalsystem is based on natural signs whose power to signify is intimatelyconnected with the psychology of man. As St. Thomas puts it,“sacramental signs signify by reason of a natural likeness.” Thiscriterion of likeness must be applied, moreover, to persons no lessthan things. Since, then, Christs’s role must be sacramentallyrepresented in the Eucharist, the “natural likeness” required betweenChrist and his minister would be lacking if Christ were notrepresented by a male. Otherwise it would be difficult to perceive theimage of Christ in the minister, since Christ was and remains a male.65For Paul VI, the masculinity of Christ is of fundamental significance: womencan imitate Christ but they cannot signify Christ: only men can signify Christ.Many hagiographers perceived the relationship between Christ and women--women saints, that is--differently than Paul VI did: women could not onlyimitate Christ, they could signify Christ. Chapter 3 explores the archetypeshagiographers used to convey the transcendent meaning of these saints lives--if and how they were compared to Mary, to Christ, or to other religious figures.Hagiographer& understanding of the meaning of these women’s lives undercutsPaul Vi’s argument that women cannot signify Christ. To many hagiographers,their subjects did exactly that: women signified Christ.65Pajl VI, The Pope Speaks 22(Summer 1977): 118.52CHAPTER THREEConstructing Orthodox Narratives:Hagiographers and Their SubjectsIt should surprise no one to learn that twentieth-century hagiographersused Christ’s life as a model for the lives of the male and female saints theywere describing: since the beginnings of Christianity, saints have beenunderstood by Christians as imitators of and representations of Christ.1 Byusing Christ’s life as the model on which the saints life is based, hagiographerscan both implicitly and explicitly demonstrate the holiness of a saint toChristians. By structuring the life of the saint after the pattern of Christ’s life--by including references, for example, to a bright star which shone at the saint’sbirth or a period of suffering which began at age 33, the age of Christ’scrucifixion--, hagiographers can implicitly convey the transcendent significanceof saints’ lives by borrowing these images which are already meaningful toChristians. Saints themselves then become signifiers of holiness whoseexample may be invoked to demonstrate new saints’ holiness: St. Francis ofAssisi, for example, became a model of a particular type of holiness--of saintswho experienced the stigmata. But archetypes for hagiographies are notlimited to Christ and Christ-like saints: twentieth-century hagiographers alsomodelled their subjects’ lives after the life of the Virgin Mary. In this chapter,I explain how and why these different archetypes of holiness were used todescribe twentieth-century female saints; I also examine whether new‘John Stratton Hawley, “Introduction: Saints and Virtues,” in J. S. Hawley, editor, Saintsand Virtues (Berkeley. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987). xv.53archetypes of feminine sanctity were in turn created by twentieth-centuryhagiographers.The Virgin Mary as ArchetyoeAlthough Mary Daly and Simone de Beauvoir criticize the Catholic churchfor promoting Mary as the ideal woman, in particular the image of her assubordinate to her male child, medievalist scholars have recently argued thatwomen themselves rarely looked to Mary as an exemplar. In her study of latemedieval saints, Caroline Walker Bynum showed that “the fullest elaboration ofthe notion that Mary is a model for women or the notion that women aremodels for each other was found in biographies written by men (for example,those of Clare of Assisi and Columba of Rieti). Where we can compare thebiographer’s perspective with that of the subject (as we can in the case ofClare), we find that the woman herself tended to ignore the female model todiscuss instead the imitation of Christ.”2 Establishing a dichotomy betweenmale and female was more important to men than women, Bynuni argues,mostly because this dichotomy enabled men to renounce the world: byrejecting the masculine, which meant rejecting the power, privilege andauthority men enjoyed in the secular world, and embracing the feminine, menwere doing what Christ called all Christians to do--to renounce worldlypursuits. As Bynum argues, “Since religious conversion meant the reversal ofall earthly values, men enthusiastically adopted images of themselves aswomen--that is, powerless, poor, irrational, without influence or authority.”3But for women, renunciation of the world could not involve gender rolereversal because men had more status than women: women would be elevatingWalker Bynum, “. . . And Woman His Humanity: Female Imagery in the ReligiousWriting of the Later Middle Ages” in C. Walker Bynum, S. Harrell, and P. Richman, editors,Gender and Religion. 259.3lbid., 279.54themselves by thinking of themselves as men, and they would not besacrificing anything by renouncing their gender role. Consequently, womenfocused not on their gender but on their humanity. Conditioned to think ofthemselves as representing humanity--that “man. . . signifies the divinity ofthe Son of God and woman his humanity--,’ women embraced the idea of theirhumanity, which was, ultimately, genderless.4In the twentieth century, this tradition continues: male hagiographersare more likely than female hagiographers to use the Virgin Mary as anarchetype for their books; male hagiographers are more likely to understandtheir subjects as gendered, as specifically feminine saints. But the selection ofarchetypal models depends not just on the gender of the hagiographer but alsoon the kind of life the saint led. Women who married and bore children--andthere were very few of them among the women canonized during this period--were more likely to be described as similar to the Virgin Mary than to Christ orother saints, while women who were nuns from a young age or were mysticsand ascetics were more likely to be described as similar to Christ than to Mary.The only hagiographer to use Mary as an archetypal model in the waythat Mary Daly and Simone de Beauvoir would have found most objectionable--the mother subordinating herself to her son- -was Leonard Feeney, whose lifeof Elizabeth Bayley Seton, Mother Seton: Saint Elizabeth of New York (1774-1821). transforms his subject’s life into the life of Mary as mother. Rather thanconcluding the book with a description of Seton’s death or the miraclesattributed to her intercession, as most hagiographies conclude, Feeney insteadends his book with a discussion of Seton’s love for her son William, whose sonbecame an archbishop. According to Feeney, “Mother Seton had, as we have4lbid., 280.55seen, many loves in her life. To each of her loved ones she gave herselfcompletely, in simplicity, undivided. But to her son, William Seton, she gaveherself not merely in love, but almost in ecstasy.’3 Seton’s life is therebysubordinated to her grandson’s life: like the Virgin Mary described by Beauvoirand Daly, her significance derives from her reproductive ability, from her maleoffspring.As Caroline Walker Bynum has argued, there is no reason to believe thatwomen internalized this particular archetypal image of the Virgin Mary.Instead, Mary was important to men, in particular to Leonard Feeney, Seton’shagiographer. Feeney was an archconservative Catholic who founded the groupthe “slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” in Boston in 1949. Feeney wascensured by Archbishop Cushing of Boston for his right-wing activism: heorganized demonstrations denouncing Jews and Protestants as “Christ-hatingand Mary-hating people;” his protests occurred during the immediate post-World War II period, when knowledge of the Holocaust enhanced sensitivityabout anti-Semitism.6Eventually, his unremitting hostility towards Protestantsand Jews--and his refusal to curb his public preaching that outside the church,there was no salvation--brought his excommunication. He took his cult offollowers to a farm in Still River, Massachusetts, where married couples tookvows of celibacy and lived separately and children were raised collectively.7According to Frances Scavullo, it was Feeney’s Mary-centred worship thatenabled him to defy religious authority. At the farm in Still River, “thesymbolic life consisted mainly of pictures of the Madonna and statues of the5Leonard Feeney. Mother Seton: Saint Elizabeth of New York (1774-1821) (1938: revisededition, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ravensgate Press, 1975), 199.6Frances M. Sca.vullo, “Leonard Feeney: The Priest Who Was More Catholic than the Pope,”in David A. Ifalperin, editor, Psychodynamic Perspectives on Re1iion. Sect and Cult(Boston: John Wright-PSG Inc., 1983), 108.7lbid., 109.56Infant Jesus. God the Father was strongly absent (and deposed).8 Scavullointerprets Feeney’s devotion to Mary as Oedipal: Feeney defied the fatherfigures in the church, the pope and the archbishop, and devoted himself to amother figure, the Virgin Mary. Scavullo does not examine how the women inthe community understood their spirituality and their relationship to Mary andto Christ; it would be interesting to discover if women rejected or internalizedthis Madonna image. Given that the women consented to live separately andgive up their roles as primary caregivers to their children, it is likely that theydid not perceive of themselves as Madonnas, but as imitators of Christ inadopting celibacy and a religious life. Whatever their understanding may havebeen, Scavullo’s analysis of Feeney’s psychology is compelling: Feeney’sdevotion to the Virgin Mary is better understood not as an admonition towomen to subordinate themselves to their sons, but as an integral part of hisown piety, his understanding of his relationship to authority in the church.9Other hagiographers used the Virgin Mary archetype to demonstratethat Christianity brought respect and dignity to women and allowed them toperform useful tasks outside the home. In his hagiography of MotherFrancesca Xavier Cabrini, for example, Pietro di Donato describes Francesca as adevoted follower of Mary who advised the nuns in her order to follow Mary’sexample as well:In urging imitation of Mary for her daughters, she was sharing withthem one of her own most cherished devotions. Ever since herchildhood, she had tried to model herself according to Saint Ambrose’sdescription of Mary: “Her movement was not indolent, her walk wasnot too quick, her voice not affected or sharp; the composure of herperson showed the beauty and harmony of her interior. It was a8lbid., 110.9The ban of excommunication on Feeney vas, incidentally, lifted in 1972.57wonderful spectacle to see with what promptness and diligence sheperformed her domestic duties, to which she applied herself withgreat solicitude, but always with tranquility and great peace. Herforehead was serene, and a modesty more celestial than terrestrialpervaded her every movement.”10Despite this traditional description of Mary and her followers as modest,serene, and diligent at domestic tasks, Donatos purpose is not to portray apassive and submissive saint, but a saint for whom the imitation of Marybrought strength and confidence sufficient to travel from Italy to America tofound hospitals and schools where needed.According to Donato, Mary is the source of the respect women receive inthe Christian tradition; as he quotes Francesca Cabrini saying, “We should begrateful to Christianity, which has raised the dignity of woman. Before Mary,what was woman? With Mary, a new era arose for woman. She is no longer achattel, but equal to man; no longer a servant, but mistress within domesticwalls; no longer the subject of disdain and contempt, but elevated to Motherand Educator, on whose knee generations are built up.”1t A priest who tried todissuade Mother Cabrini from becoming a missionary because she was awoman was proved wrong. He warned her that “the woman religious can benothing but the quiet handmaiden to the towering prerogative of the Churchfathers. Even after extended years an order of sisters is little empowered....Let robust priests and Jesuits carry the frightful burdens of missions.’12 ButDonato quickly shows that the the priest was wrong about women’s roles:Mother Cabrini obtains Pope Leo Xlii’s permission to serve as a missionary andgoes on to found a number of successful charities in America. Although Donatot0Pietro di Donato, Immigrant Saint: The Life of Mother Cabrini (New York, Toronto,London: McGraw-Hill, 1960). 193.‘tlbid., 167.12Ibjd 46.58proposes Mary as a model for women to emulate, he interprets Mary’s life asliberating for women: in imitating Mary, Mother Cabrini was able to exceedcontemporary expectations for women. Donato’s philosophy is thereforesimilar to Pope Paul Vi’s. Like Pope Paul VI, he regards Christianity as theoriginal source of women’s equality in society; before Christianity, both argue,women were regarded as inferior and treated like slaves. Both Donato andPaul VI support maternal feminism, the type of feminism which assertswomen’s dignity and status because of their important roles as mothers.Although Donato and Pope Paul VI understood the Virgin Mary as anessentially feminine archetype, not a universal archetype such as Christ (whomI will discuss later in this chapter), they and other hagiographers argued thatMary could serve as a valuable role model not just to women, but to men aswell. The most extreme example of male devotion to Mary is Louis MarieGrignon de Montfort, canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947. Although Montfortlived during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, according toone Catholic commentator, he “belongs more to our own age than he did to his.It is no mere coincidence that he was canonized and his doctrines brought intoprominence during this ‘Age of Mary.’ He sowed the seed. Today his sowingsare ripe for the harvest.”13 For Montfort, the Virgin Mary was a model for allCatholics, men and women;”’We must in every action,’ Montfort tells us,‘consider how Mary has done it, or how she would have done it, had she beenin our place.’ “14 Mary’s importance to Catholic piety, according to Montfort,derives from her special relationship with Christ: she gave Him the flesh to13james Mary Keane, “Presentation” to Joseph M. Dayet, Total Consecration to Mary: AnIntroduction to The True Devotion of St. Louis Mary de Moatfort (Bay Shore, New York:Moatfort Publications, 1956), viii.14Joseph Dayet, Total Consecration to Mary. 93-94.59make Him huan.l For Montfort, Mary represented the human and earthlyaspect of Christ, the flesh and blood which suffered on the cross. AlthoughMary provided a universal model for all Christians to emulate, her importancederived from her role as woman and mother, her ability to provide, nurture,and willingly sacrifice the flesh of her Son Jesus. Mary was, therefore,inseparable from her gender and her sex role.Pope Pius XII also regarded Mary as synonymous with femininity.When he canonized five saints on one day in 1954, for example, he contrastedDominic Savio’s feminine spirituality with the masculine spirituality of theother three men canonized: “While the three heroes whom we have justcommemorated had spent all their manly energies in the hard battle againstthe forces of evil, there appears before the image of Dominic Savio, the delicateadolescent, weak of body, but with a soul determined to make a pure oblationof itself to the sovereignly gentle and exacting love of Christ.16 Saviosspiritual life was built on devotion to the Virgin: as Pius explains, “On December8, 1854, he found himself uplifted in an ecstasy of love toward the VirginMary, and shortly afterwards he joined some of his friends in the Society of theImmaculate conception. “17 His reputation for sanctity was built primarily onhis piety, his frequent reception of the Sacraments, his recitation of the Rosary,and his avoidance of evil.18 Through his devotion to the Virgin, Savioborrowed what Pius described as feminine qualities: these feminine qualitieshelped Savio achieve sanctity. As Caroline Walker Bynum argues regardingmedieval men, twentieth-century men partook of feminine virtues throughtheir devotion to the Virgin because to do so entailed a symbolic reversal: ant3Ibid., 9.16Pope Pius XII, The Pope Speaks 1 (Summer 1954): 168.17Ibid.60emphasis on humility, a renunciation of the world. This idea of symbolicreversal explains Louis Montfort’s devotion to Mary: because Jesus willinglysubmitted Himself to his earthly mother, Mary, for 30 years, so too must allChristians fallow this model of humility and devotion to Mary; and Maryherself, who became Queen of Heaven, served all creatures, though as Queenshe was greater than them in purity.19 Similarly, Vatican Ii’s ‘Decree on theLife and Ministry of Priests” encouraged priests to follow the Virgin’s model ofdocility, to abandon pride and adopt humility.20 Popes and hagiographers-male hagiographers, in particular--present the Virgin as a model of femininespirituality from which males and females may draw inspiration.Female hagiographers tended to use the archetype of the Virgin Mary indifferent ways than male hagiographers did--not as a source of femininevirtues from which women could draw inspiration, but as a source of powerand strength. The female hagiographer--Marie Cecilia Buehrle in herhagiography, Saint Maria Goretti--who made greatest use of the Maryarchetype during this period did not emphasize Mary the mother of God, butMary the virgin, the only woman immaculately conceived and hence free fromOriginal Sin. The Catholic church did not officially adopt the dogma of theImmaculate Conception until 1854, during the reign of Pope Pius IX. In 1950,the church defined another Marian dogma, the Assumption of the Virgin, thebelief that Mary’s body was translated into heaven rather than left on earth toundergo decomposition. The period from 1850 to 1950 has been called theMarian Age, not only because of the definition of these two dogmas, but alsobecause of the widespread apparitions of the Virgin beginning in the 1 830s,t9joseph Dayet, Total Consecration to Mary. 8,99-101.20The Documents of Vatican II. editors Walter Abbott and Joseph Gallagher, (New York:Guild Press, 1966), 570.61when she appeared to Catherine Labouré (canonized 1947) in Paris, andcontinuing through the early twentieth century, with appearances at Lourdes,Fatima, and Pontmain, among others.21It was the dogma of the Tm maculate Conception which informed MarieCecilia Buehrle’s hagiography of Maria Goretti, the 11 year-old virgin martyr.The Immaculate Conception was not just a dogma but an image--the VirginMary as New Eve, who crushed the snake and thereby avoided Original Sin.This image of Mary crushing a serpent with her foot was circulated throughoutEurope on the “miraculous medal” describedby Catherine Labouré, copies ofwhich were made and distributed to Catholics throughout Europe and theUnited States.22 Buehrles use of the Immaculate Conception imagery enablesher to describe Maria Goretti as a more powerful and sinless heroine than doesanother of her hagiographers, Alfred MacConastair, who does not employImmaculate Conception imagery. Buehrle emphasizes Maria’s early baptismthat she might be free from the stain of Original Sin as soon as possible; also,Maria was consecrated to the Virgin. More significantly, Buehrle describes ascene in which the young Maria crushed a snake which was threatening hermother and sisters in the field; Maria therefore literally becomes Mary of theImmaculate Conception during this episode:Quietly (Maria) approached the patch, stopping to look and listen atevery step. Then she saw it, a large black snake uncoiling itself,happily with its head facing away from her. She aimed her stick at aspot just below the head, struck a forceful blow, and paralyzed it.The tail shivered; but the head could not move. She struck again and21Barbara Corrado Pope, “Immaculate and Powerful: The Marian Revival in theNineteenth Century,” in Clarissa Atkinson, Constance Buchanan and Margaret Miles,editors, Immaculate and Powerful: The Female in Sacred Ima,e and Social Reality (Boston:Beacon Press, 1985). 173.22Ibjd 173, 177.62knew that she had killed jt.23Shortly after she killed the snake, her neighbour Alessandro made his firstpass at her. Initially, Maria’s inner strength rendered Alessandro powerless:But (Alessandro) dared not touch her. Something within her wasstronger than he.Alessandro, powerless in the face of a girl less than twelve, thwartedby a will stronger than his own, snarled with rage and grasped thedagger that lay ready on the stand at his elbow.24Only physical force could be used against Maria: at no time was she evertempted by Alessandro’s suggestions.By contrast, Alfred MacConastairs hagiography portrays Maria asdoubtful and unsure: she struggled with internal temptation. As a young child,instead of the always confident, always pious Maria of Buehrle’s hagiography,Maria instead occasionally succumbs to feelings of vanity and jealousy:Strange longings were stirring in her young heart. She had seen girlsof her own age, well-dressed, having a good time in Nettuno. Whycouldn’t she have a good time too? She was beautiful, she knew, foreverybody told her so. Would she not look even more beautiful infine clothes? She never had a day off, rarely left the house unless onan errand, whereas she knew other girls had parties and fun. Herheart stirred in rebellion.25Her mother warned her that her main danger would be her beauty: because ofit, she told Maria, “You will meet danger from without and weakness fromwithin. Strange yearnings will fill your soul, and then God alone can help you.Turn to Him and His Blessed Mother.26 After Alessandro first tried to seduceher, her mother’s words echoed in her mind: “weakness from within; dangerfrom without.”27 Although Maria never considers submitting to Alessandro in23Marie Cecilia Buehrle, Saint Maria Goretti. 90.24Ibjd 106.25Alfred MacConastair, Lily of the Marshes. 73.26Ibid 110.27Ibid 134.63MacConastairs account, she is nevertheless much more vulnerable and unsureof herself than in Buehrles account. When Alessandro finally threatens her inthe final dramatic scene in which she is stabbed, MacConastair’s Maria does notrender Alessandro powerless even for a moment: in fact, MacConastair’s Mariahears voices advising her to submit to Alessandro. Buehrles use of thearchtype of the Virgin Mary does not make her heroine sub missive and weak;instead, it enables her to describe her heroine as confident and powerful, ableto overcome--spiritually if not physically (although she does resist rape, if notdeath)--an older, physically stronger male.According to Marina Warner, the powerful virgin is not a new image forChristian women; it existed before belief in the Immaculate Conception becameCatholic dogma in 1854.28 But Buehrle’s life of Maria Goretti is not simply amodern retelling of the tales of the early Christian virgin martyrs--Agnes,Perpetua, Felicitas. By incorporating the imagery of the ImmaculateConception, Buehrle is able to reconcile the tension between woman as virginand woman as mother, incompatible roles for all women save the Virgin Mary.Whereas the early virgin martyrs renounced the world to become Christians--renounced their families, their fathers and mothers, renounced suitors, andoften renounced secular authorities as well,29 Maria Goretti renounced no one;her life was the fulfillment of her parent’s--particularly her mother’s--intentions. She was baptized early to free her from Original Sin; hermartyrdom therefore involved no break from her family, but the naturalevolution of her parents’ desires to keep her sinless. Maria’s mother plays animportant role in Buerhle’s hagiography; it is to her--Assunta Goretti--that thebook is dedicated; as Buerhle states, “To understand Maria it is necessary first28Marina Warner, Mona of All Her Sex. 72.29Thomas Heffernan, Sacred BioQraohv. 267.64of all to know her mother.30 The importance of mothers is further enhancedin Buerhie’s book by her explanation of Alessandro’s inclination to evil: ratherthan attribute Alessandro’s crime to exposure to pornography, as MacConastairdoes, Buehrle attributes his crime to neglect, because Alessandro’s mother diedwhen he was very young. A mothers influence can create saints, such asMaria; the lack of a mother can create sinners, such as Alessandro. MarinaWarner argues that the lives of the virgin martyrs, however powerful theirvirginity may have made them, did nothing to increase the status of women insociety, women who married and lost their 31 But Buehrleshagiography offers a way out of this dilemma: she conveys the power of thevirgin saint as well as the importance of the mother; both virgin and motherare important, influential roles for women.The Virgin Mary functioned as a different kind of symbol for femaleand male hagiographers (and popes, all of whom were, of course, men). Forfemales, the Virgin was a source of strength and power, while for men theVirgin was a source of ‘feminine virtues,” such as docility and humility.Furthermore, devotion to the Virgin Mary was not understood as the exclusivepreserve of women; Leonard Feeney’s hagiography of Elizabeth Seton, forexample, is better understood as a product of Feeney’s own piety rather thanSeton’s. Caroline Walker Bynum’s observation that men were more likely than30Marie Cecilia Buehrle, Saint Maria Goreui.3tMarina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex. 73. Thomas Heffernan argues that thehagiographies of early virgin martyrs did, in fact, reconcile the roles of virgin andmother. During the sainVs crucifixion, the virgins were transformed into mothers; forexample, in one hagiography, serpents were thrown at the saint’s breasts and weretransformed into children. By juxtaposing opposite images, virgin and mother, Heffernanargues, the hagiographers united these two images: “To wit, both Christian virgins andmothers beget children, albeit the one spiriwal and the other biological.” See HeffernansSacred Biography. 277-285. Buehrles reconciliation of these two roles, virgin and mother,is less subtle than early Christian hagiographers reconciliation and far more likely to beunderstood as such by her readers.65women during the late Middle Ages to understand Mary as specificallyfeminine--a model primarily for women, but a model from which men coulddraw “feminine” virtues--holds true for the twentieth century.Male hagiographers’ understanding of Mary rested on a belief in the essentialfemininity of Mary and of women in general and thereby limited their abilityto present her--and the saints whose lives they modelled after hers--asuniversal archetypes not defined primarily by their gender. Buthagiographers--both female and male--transcended the boundaries of genderwhen they used Christ’s life as the archetype for their hagiographies. Not onlydid Christ serve as a universal archetype--neither masculine nor feminine, orsometimes both masculine and feminine--for their hagiographies, but thesaints whose lives they modelled after Christ’s in turn served as universalarchetypes, symbols of sanctity for men and women alike.Christ as ArchetypeReferences to Christ serve two functions in the hagiographies oftwentieth-century female saints: first, they convey the transcendent meaningof the saint’s life to readers; second, they can transform the saint herself into areligious symbol which signifies Christ. Some hagiographers use imageryassociated with Christ or make comparisons to Christ for the first reason alone:they do not transform the saint into a signifier of Christ; they merely usecomparisons to Christ to demonstrate the holiness of the saint. Christ’s lifetherefore serves as a “veritable thesaurus of established approved actionswhich (hagiographers could employ in their tts.”32 Frances Parkinson Keyes’slife of Mariana Paredes of Jesus is a good example of this kind of hagiography-32Thomas Heffernan, Sacred Biography. 6.66using Christ’s life to signify the holiness of the saint rather than using thesaint’s life to signify Christ.When Mariana was born, Keyes explains, the stars shone unusuallybrightly; ‘moreover, one brighter than all the others appeared to be sheddingits rays directly over the bill top, above the walls beyond the patio and acrossthe galleries which surrounded this, so that these beams reached into the roomwhere the woman lay in childbed, illuminating it with supernal light.”33 Thestar was a”’Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright,’ likethe one which, centuries before, had shone above Bethlehem, guiding theshepherds to the place where the young Child was with His Mother.”34 As achild, Mariana was thrown from her donkey when crossing a river; “instead ofbeing sub merged by the rushing river, the child actually seemed to risebuoyantly and triumphantly above it.”5 Keyes does not make an explicitcomparison between this incident and Christ walking on water, but theconnection would be clear to readers without making it explicit.When Mariana chose to adopt an austere life apart from the world,except for contact with the poor, the ill, and her confessor, she was, accordingto Keyes, imitating Christ:The pattern she had chosen was not only austere, it was sacrificial.From earliest childhood she had visualized herself as a vJclJma: that is,it was her soul’s sincere desire not only to worship God, but to makeher personal ‘Imitation of Christ’ a literal one as far as sufferingwas concerned. 3633Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Rose and the Lily: The Lives and Times of Two SouthAmerican Saints (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1961). 172.34Ibid.. 172-173.33Ibid., 179.361b1d.. 183.67Her death was similar to Christ’s: He died to atone for the sins of humanity;Mariana died to atone for the sins of the people of Ecuador. She had offeredherself as a sacrifice after a sermon during Lent in 1645, a year which broughtearthquakes and measles and diphtheria epidemics to Quito, Ecuador.37Immediately she became ill. Keyes weaves references to Christs Passion anddeath into her discussion of Mariana’s final days. On Good Friday, for example,she was bled by her physician; the blood was poured onto a spot on the groundwhere, afterwards, lilies always grew. And, “on Ascension Day, she managed torise from her bed and go to the window which looked out on the Chapel of OurLady of the Angels. She could only glimpse, from this distance, its glory of goldand crimson, which had so enraptured her during her childhood; but she couldhear Mass as it was celebrated, and she listened to it again, in the same way.”38So, on Ascension Day, when Christ rose to join God in heaven, she rose to comeinto contact with God via the Mass. By using imagery from Christ’s life todescribe Mariana’s life from birth to death, Keyes is able to convey thetranscendent significance of Mariana’s life in a meaningful way to Catholicreaders. But Keyes does not transform Mariana into a religious figure whoselife signifies christ; she is, instead, a “great servant of God,” a national heroine,a saint.39 But hagiographers found even greater significance in the lives ofGemnia Galgani and Thérèse Couderc, who not only imitated the life of Christ,but signified His presence to their hagiographers. After explaining that formany years Gemma Galgani would every Thursday receive the stigmata whichdid not disappear until three p.m. Friday, the hour that Jesus died, Giuseppe37Ibid., 213.38Ibjd 216-217.Ibid.. 220.68Bardi remarks that not only did she imitate Christ to an extraordinarydegree, through her sufferings she actually symbolized Christ’s presence:Cannot one picture this frail creature bowed down with the load ofsin, see her approaching her Savior panting with the weight of herburden. Does one not see a reflection of Christ Himself carrying HisCross to Calvary.40Gemma Galgani was not the first female saint to represent the presence ofthe divine to her contemporaries. During the fourteenth century, forexample, Catherine of Siena, a mystic like Gemma, brought her confessor,Raymond of Capua, into what he understood to be the presence of thedivine: Raymond described watching Catherine’s face become the face ofGod.41Potentially, these female mystics could represent a threat to theirconfessors’ authority in particular and priestly authority in general. Asmentioned in chapter two, Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the church’s position thatwomen could not be ordained because they could not as women represent amale Christ. But hagiographers recognized a likeness between their subjectsand Christ--not a physical likeness per se, but a likeness born of mutualsuffering. Women readers may have found these texts more empoweringand more positive about women’s possibilities than the church’s officialstatements about women’s roles within the church and society. Potentially,female saints’ ability to signify the presence of the Christ during their livescould undermine the church’s teachings about women’s roles within thechurch; their ability could also threaten the individual confessor’s confidencein his own authority, if he lacks these same mystical experiences.40Giuseppe Bardi, St. Gemma GalMani. 138.41John Coakley, “Friars as Confidants of Holy Women in Medieval DominicanHagiography,’ in Images of Sainthood in Medieval Eupe. 237.69Hagiographers were, however, careful to show that these women did notchallenge their confessors authority or sacerdotal authority in general.Catherine’s fourteenth-century hagiographer described her “as the most solidof supporters of ecclesiastical authority. The climax of the work is hermartyrdom for the cause of the Roman papacy... . Thus her enormouscharismatic power not only did not challenge but also specifically served thesacramental ministry of the church. She the saint and Raymond the priest,however awed by her he professed to be, were partners hand in hand.”42Gemnia’s hagiographer was also careful to point out Gemmas obedience toher confessor. As I explained in chapter one, Bardi’s hagiography supportsthe authority of the clergy; Christ Himself, who came to her periodically, putHimself at her confessor’s mercy, promising to give her the cross to bear onlyif her confessor agreed to During Gemma’s life, she remainedsubordinate to her confessor, Monsignor Volpi; after her death--and onlyafter her death--’she who was his spiritual daughter became his gentleprotectress and he asked her for help in the great trials Our Lord imposed onhim.”44 Hagiographers thus defused the potential challenge to sacerdotalauthority which female mystics may have posed by portraying them asobedient to their confessors and as helpers in ecclesiastical causes.Two of Thérèse Couderc’s hagiographers, Eileen Surles and HenryPerroy, treat their subject not just as a successful imitator of Christ, but as awoman whose participation in Christ’s suffering--whose sacrifice of her lifeas an heroic victim for Christ- -enables her to represent Christ’s presence toothers. Both hagiographers use significant events from Christ’s life to42Ibjd, 237-238,43Giuseppe Bardi, St. Gemma Galgani, 118-120.44Ibid., 123.70structure their narratives of Thérèse’s life: according to Henry Perroy,Thérèse’s constant suffering began at age 33, Christ’s age when he wascrucified, and continued until her death at age 80. Other saints may shareChrist’s agony at Gethsemani on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, “butMother Thérèse, although she wept more on Thursday evening and Friday,once she had entered Gethsemani she never left j”4 Eileen Surlesattributes a shorter period of constant suffering to Thérèse-- 16 yearscompared to 47, but her understanding of Thérèse’s life is nonethelesssimilar to Perroy’s:For sixteen years Mother Thérèse had knelt beside Our Lord in theGarden of Gethsemani, sharing in His agony. During the last fewweeks of her life on earth she shared, by a special grace, in Hiscrucifixion.The slightest movement in bed caused her incredible pain. Her handsand her feet were crippled and swollen with rheumatism. •46Thérèse’s hagiographers make the same claim for her as Gemma’shagiographer did of Gemma: that she not only faithfully imitated Christ, butshe signified Christ’s presence. According to Perroy, Thérèse’s transcendentquality was similar to the presence of God in the Eucharist:We do not think we are guilty of excess when we compare thedisposition and the action of Mother Thérése with the disposition andaction of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Her constant gaze upon theconsecrated Bread, had, as it were, assimilated Mother Thérôse to thisSacrament of Love.47Perroy has established a powerful similarity between Thérèse and Christ:Therèse shares Christ’s disposition and action in the Eucharist. Catholic45flenry Perroy, A Great and Humble Soul: Mother Therese Couderc. translated by JohnBurke (Westminster, Maryland: The Nevman Press, 1960), 202, 168.46Eileen Surles, Surrender to the Spirit: The Life of Mother Therese Couderc (New York:P. J. Kennedy and Sons. 1951), 233.47Hen.ry Perroy, A Great and Humble Soul. 202.71readers may have found Thérèse’s likeness to Christ to be a more convincingexample of women’s ability to represent Christ than they found Paul Vi’sargument that women’s physical dissimilarity to Christ prevented them frombeing able to represent Christ as priests.But Perroy is not making a political argument. Like Catherine ofSiena’s and Gemma Galgani’s hagiographers, he is careful to show thatThérèse was always obedient to and respectful of the clergy. When MotherThérèse was unjustly removed from her position as Mother Superior byFather Renault, Perroy explains that Thérèse never complained, but quietlyand patiently accepted the new Mother Superior. Father Renault hadthought he was doing what was best for the religious community: he hadheard exaggerated reports of the community’s debts and believed that a newMother Superior from an affluent background--Madame de La Villeurnoy-would attract new novices who could help pay off the debts.48 For Thérèse,the installation of a new Mother Superior nonetheless worked to heradvantage because “out of evil God brings good. In his hands Mme. de LaVilleurnoy was a marvelous instrument for the sanctification of MotherThêrèse.”49 When Mme. de La Villeurnoy was removed after one year andMother Contenet installed as the new Mother Superior, Thérèse enduredContenet’s spite with patience and serenity. As Eileen Surles explains,‘(Mother Contenet) saw that the novices did (Thérèse’s) work over again,laughed at her mountain speech, and feared no reproof for rudeness to her.But she smiled, and remained serene. God planned events. Perhaps thiswhite fire in her mind would bring her closer to Him, teach her to pray,48Ibid., 84.491b1d., 97.72make her worthy of the gifts of wisdom.50 Thérèse remained faithful andobedient to the priest who deposed her and the new Mother Superior whoscorned her: despite her mystical gifts, she represented no threat to theecclesiastical hierarchy because of her obedience.The women most likely to be described as Christ-like were, likeGemma Galgani and Thérèse Couderc, those who had had mysticalexperiences. The imitation of Christ could, conceivably, take many forms--from caring for the poor and the sick, as Jesus did, to correcting injustice, asthe story about Jesus and the money-lenders suggests--but hagiographersduring this period identified the imitation of Christ as the imitation of hissuffering on the cross. This emphasis on suffering is a longstandinghagiographical tradition. Richard Kiecichefer’s work on fourteenth-centurysaints, for example, shows that suffering was integral to fourteenth-centurypiety; “(the saints) viewed suffering as the specific means God has chosenboth for Christ’s redemptive work and for the sanctification of those whoimitate Christ. Atonement came not from charitable works, nor from prayer,nor from enlightenment, but from pain.”51 As inheritors of this tradition,twentieth-century hagiographers praised virtues such as obedience, patientsuffering, and trust in God’s will as part of their understanding of what theimitation of Christ involved. Their emphasis on these virtues cannot,therefore, be understood merely as attempts to encourage virtues whichhave traditionally been advocated for women. Men and women alikeunderstood the imitation of Christ to involve suffering, patience, andsubmission to God’s will.50Eileen Surles, Surrender to the Spirit 117.51Richard Kieckhefer, Unquiet Souls: Fourteenth Saints and Their Religious Milieu(Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1984). 89.73But, because women’s roles within the church were limited, womensaints vitae emphasized obedience and suffering to a greater degree thanmen’s. Whereas a male saint might be a ‘holder of temporal or ecclesiasticalpower, missionary to the heathen and fiery preacher of the word, championof public morality, heroic defender of his virtue,” church regulationsthroughout the late medieval and early modern period prohibited womenfrom fulfilling these roles.52 During the twentieth century, these rolesexpanded only slightly for women: Francesca Xavier Cabrini joined the ranksof the canonized as a missionary to heathens and a world traveller withvirtually no mystical experience; as one of her hagiographers explains, “Inthe whole Catholic hagiography there is probably no other life of a saint inwhich we find such marvelous exterior activity and so few signs of mysticalexperiences. And yet we know she prayed continuously.’53But the limitation of women’s roles within the church does notcompletely explain why women saints’ vJLw emphasized suffering andobedience more than men’s did. The emphasis on suffering by women saintsis a longstanding tradition, well-documented by Caroline Walker Bynum inher book on late medieval saints.54 Women experienced more painassociated with the stigmata--often self-inflicted pain; they ate little,endured illnesses, and generally suffered. Bynum argues that theyunderwent penitential practices not simply because they had internalizedmedieval misogyny and therefore regarded their bodies as something to52Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell, Saints and Society53Aristeo Simoni, “Introduction” to Theodore Maynard, Too Small a World: The Life ofErancesca Cabrini (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1943). xiii.54Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Foodto Medieval Women (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987), 208-218.74punish, but primarily for two other reasons: they wanted to rebel against therole the church was creating for women within Christianity- -women asinferior beings, whose roles as mothers were acknowledged to have somespiritual significance but also excluded them from spiritual heroics, whichthey understood as necessary for a true imitation of Christ;55 second, womensaints did not understand asceticism as self-torture but as a means of fusingthemselves with Christ.56 Women therefore willingly underwent sufferingbecause they saw themselves as capable of performing the spiritual heroicsnecessary to become one with Christ.The emphasis on obedience can, similarly, be understood as women’sdesire to imitate Christ’s passion. Like fourteenth-century saints, twentieth-century saints regarded obedience, or submission to Gods will, as vitallyimportant.57 God often used human beings to carry out His will, so saintswould submit to abuse from friends, family, and the government becausethey perceived this abuse to be God’s will, a way of testing their patienceand obedience.58 Among the twentieth-century saints, Mary Joseph Rosseilois a good example of this kind of piety: no matter how little money she hadto feed more orphans, no matter how much others encouraged her to turnnewcomers away because she could not afford to feed one more mouth,Rossello always took in whoever came because she believed God had sent thechildren to be cared for.39 But obedience in twentieth-century hagiographyincludes a theme it did not have in fourteenth-century hagiography:551b1d., 238-240.S6fbjd 218.57Richard Kieckhefer, Unquiet Souls. 50.581b1d 52-56.59Katherine Burton, Wheat for This Planting: The Biography of Saint Mary JosephRossello (Milwaukee: Bruce Press, 1960), 80-83, and other examples throughout text.75emphasis on the importance of obeying the clergy. In twentieth-centuryhagiography, obedience began at home- -young women did not disobey theirparents to join convents, as they did in earlier periods, particularly duringthe late Roman empire, but also during the late medieval period--andobedience continued throughout their lives as nuns and even as mothersuperiors, who had to obey the ecclesiastical hierarchy.Obedience is the theme that unites all of these twentieth-centuryhagiographies. Catherine Labouré, for example, obeyed her father when heinitially refused to let her enter a convent. For Joseph Dirvin, Catherine’sobedience was her singlemost important virtue: her ‘obedience is thehallmark, the strength, of (Catherine) Labouré. No matter how fiercely thegorge of rebellion rose within her, no matter how useless she knew thecommand to be, (Catherine) always obeyed.’60 Julie Billiart and ThérèseCouderc both obeyed priests who unjustly removed them from the positionof Mother Superior of their orders. Francesca Xavier Cabrini obeyed ordersto go to the United States as a missionary, although her real desire was to goto China--but obedience came first for her.6’ God prevented young Margaretof Hungary’s elders from asking her to give up her ascetic practices so thatMargaret could be obedient and ascetic simultaneously: “And the God whoinspired her desire for penance saw to it that those in authority wereliterally unable to impose obedience on her in this manner. It goes withoutsaying that she would have submitted at once to a command or even a dimlyexpressed wish, but our Lord never let it come to that.”62 And GemmaGalgani’s obedience to her confessor prevented her from being ensnared by60Joph Dirvin, Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal (New York: Farrar,Straus, and Company, 1958), 42.61Theodore Maynard, Too Small a World. 5.62SisWr Mary Catherine, Margaret. Princess of Hunaary. 28.76one of the devil’s traps. As her hagiographer explains, “Satan even took theform of Jesus Himself, with all his wounds, including the scourging, to induceher to disobey her confessor who had commanded her to cease her penances.‘Oh! if you only knew,’ she said, ‘what trouble my poor confessor takes tomake me good and particularly obedient.’ “63 In spite of the fact that 21 ofthe 27 women canonized from 1939 to 1978 were founders or cofounders ofreligious orders, and therefore in positions of authority within theircommunities for at least some of their lives, only one saint is described assomeone to whom obedience is owed--Francesca Cabrini.64 Overall,hagiographers defined obedience as the most important virtue these saintsembraced--more important than charity, penance, justice, or any othervirtue.Obedience may have been emphasized partly as a legacy of theCatholic Reformation, when the church reacted to Martin Luther’sdisobedience with a reassertion of clerical and papal authority. But thisexplanation would not account for the increased emphasis on obedience inhagiographies about female saints. Hagiographers emphasized female saints’obedience for two reasons: first, only obedient women were judged to beauthentic saints, so that only obedient women survived the canonizationprocess; second, an emphasis on obedience provided a means of legitimizingand thereby controlling the saints’ charismatic powers, particularly in thecase of mystics. According to Kenneth Woodward, the Vatican still relies onthe advice of Pope Benedict XIV, who reigned during the early eighteenthcentury, for the canonization of mystics; he advised investigators of amystic’s cause, especially if the mystic were a woman, to rely on the63Giuseppe Bardi, St. Gemma Galgani64Pietro di Donato, Immigrant Saint. 177-178.77judgment of the mystics “spiritual director (usually a priest), confessor, orother learned and pious men’ to determine if the mystic’s visions wereauthentic and if they derived from divine, not diabolical, origins.63 Fromapproximately 1850 to 1950, there were at least 15 women who could beclassified as mystics and mystics alone (Thérèse Couderc had mysticalexperiences but she was also a founder); of these, only half were proposedfor canonization, and only Gemma Galgani has yet been canonized.66Kenneth Woodward does not offer an explanation for why these women havenot been canonized. But he does argue that the church has not canonizedthem not because of its increased emphasis on saints who led virtuous livesrather than saints who experienced the supernatural: many priests, in fact,have encouraged devotion to mystics who, they suppose, demonstrate tocontemporary Catholics the existence of the supernatural during an era ofunbelief.67 It is likely, therefore, that the uncanonized female mysticsstrayed from orthodoxy on some point and therefore failed to fulfill thecriterion of obedience: as Woodward argues, “much as mystics may certifyand confirm accepted beliefs on the strength of their own personalexperience, they also tend to individuate and ramify particular aspects offaith--to the point, in some cases, of challenging the prevailing orthodoxy.The mere claim to direct experience of God has, often enough, put mysticsunder suspicion of heterodoxy.”68Fe male mystics who carefully listened to and obeyed their confessorswould be in less danger of being considered heterodox. When the woman65Kenneth Woodward, Making Saints. 169.66Ibid., 164.671b1d68Ibid., 161.78died, her confessor usually played a major role in shaping her vIta.69 JuneMackiln distinguishes between “official” saints canonized by the church topromote specific virtues--often these saints have been members of theclergy, “well-born, rich, well-educated, rational and male”70-- nd popularsaints, well-loved by the people primarily because of their willingness forself-sacrifice to perform service for others and for their mystical gifts. Thechurch is not entirely able to choose its own saints; overwhelming popularityfor a particular saint--who must, of course, always meet requirements fororthodoxy--will influence the Vatican’s choice of saints. Because many of thefemale saints had acquired a popular following, particularly the mystics,including Mariana Paredes of Jesus in Ecuador71 (and Gemma Galgani insouthern Italy), the church had the task of transforming these popular saintsinto the kind of saints it wished to promote, namely those known primarilyfor their virtues, not for their mysticism.72 Because hagiographies are oftenwritten to promote a candidate’s cause for sainthood, they emphasized thepotential saint’s virtues--obedience, in particular--to make the saint moreappealing to the church’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Byemphasizing the obedience of the saint, hagiographers not only legitimizedthe saint’s cause by showing that her reputation for holiness was groundedin orthodoxy, they also presented the saint’s charisma and mystical gifts asunder the control of the church. As sociologist Amitai Etzioni explains, “boththe Catholic Church and the Communist Party have employed a mechanismwhich allows them to turn deviant charismatic symbols into a focus of69June MackIm. “Two Faces of Sainthood: The Pious and the Popular,” Journal of LatinAmerican Lore 14 (Summer 1988): 73.70Ibid., 75.71Ibid., 72-76.72Kenneth Woodward, Making Saints. 156-190.79conforming identification. In the Church, canonization has sometimes playedthis role; by reinterpreting the image of the deviant leader, devotion to thecharismatic symbol is rechanneled to the organization and its goals. Thecanonization of Joan of Arc is probably the best-known example.”73 MarianaParedes of Jesus and Gemma Galgani may not qualify as ‘deviant charismaticsymbols,” but their mystical visions of Jesus and their popularity weresufficient to view them as potentially threatening to orthodoxy;hagiographers, however, supplied an orthodox interpretation to their lives:the female charismatic was transformed into an instrument of the church’steaching.Hagiographers recognized the spiritual significance of their subjects’lives--not just in these women’s ability to imitate Christ in extremes ofservice, charity, devotion and suffering, but also in their ability to signify thepresence of the holy- -of the divine--on earth. Just as Raymond of Capua sawCatherine of Siena’s face become the face of God, so too did Giuseppe Bardirecognize the likeness of Christ in Gemma Galgani. Although hagiographersnever interpreted their subjects’ lives as challenges to the church’s teachingson the proper roles for women, in particular to Pope Paul Vi’s speech thatwomen could not become priests because they could not represent Christ,Catholic women understood these saints lives in ways the church neverintended--as challenges to the prescribed roles for women, as liberating rolemodels. In Anne Carr’s words, Catholic women have recognized theideological aspect of symbols--the ways in which saints’ lives have beentransformed into “safe” symbols of orthodoxy--and the transcendent aspect73Amitai Etzioni, A Comparative Analysis of ComDlex Organizations (New York: The FreePress. 1961), 242-243.80of symbols, the ways in which saints lives convey a sense of the divine. Inthe following chapter, 1 describe how Catholic women derive meaning insaints’ lives beyond the orthodoxy of hagiography.81CHAPTER FOURFrom Obedience to Autonomy:Catholic Lay Women Define Sanctity and SainthoodTwentieth-century Catholic women both interpreted canonized saints’lives in unconventional ways and proposed alternative saints to the womenwho had been formally canonized. Dorothy Day (1897-1980), the Americanconvert to Catholicism and the cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement,provides a good example of both of these tendencies. Although Day herselfwas a political activist who demonstrated for peace and the rights of workers,her favourite saint was a cloistered nun, Thôrèse of Lisieux (1873-1897;canonized 1925 by Pope Pius XI), who never left the convent. Thérèse was--and is--best known for her sentimental autobiography, The Story of a Soul:1with its emphasis on the patient endurance of minor suffering, such as beingsplashed with dirty tub water by another nun, The Story of a Soul seems asdifferent as possible from Dorothy Day’s own autobiography, The LongLoneliness.2which chronicles Day’s involvement with anarchists andcommunists, her arrests, and her committment to political justice. Day foundmeaning in Thérôse’s life to continue her political activism after herconversion: Day did not interpret Thérèse’s life as an admonition to retreatfrom the world, but instead, paradoxically, as an example of a way to becomeinvolved with the world as a Catholic activist. In turn, Day herself came to beregarded as an unofficial saint by her followers, particularly in the UnitedStates: she served as an unconventional model of sanctity--an activist femalesaint--for many Americans, male and female.1Therese Martin, The Autobiography of Therese of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul. translatedby John Beevers (Garden City, N.Y.. 1957).2Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness: An Autobiograohy. ‘with introduction by DanielBerrigan (1952; reprint, San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981).82In her 1952 autobiography, Dorothy Day said that before her formalconversion to Catholicism she wondered ‘where were the saints to try tochange the social order, not just to minister to the slaves but to do away withslavery?”3Her concern was with injustice, with changing the social order whichcreated suffering. She wanted to discover saints who embraced a differentaspect of Christ’s life, not just his Passion: “Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek,’but I could not be meek at the thought of injustice. I wanted a Lord whowould scourge the money-changers out of the temple, and I wanted to help allthose who raised their hand against oppression.”4 Day did not convert untilafter the birth of her child, Tamar, whom she wanted to raise in the Catholicfaith; Day had already had years of experience as an activist and friend ofsocialists, communists, and anarchists before her conversion. But Day wasfrustrated with the left-wings emphasis on materialism; she turned toCatholicism for a spiritual approach to life and the world’s problems. Day’sactivism did not result from her Catholicism; rather, she brought her activismto Catholicism.Initially, very soon after her conversion, Day found Thérèse of Lisieux’sThe Story of a Soul schoolgirlish and uninteresting. She was offended that herspiritual director, Father Zachary, could have suggested it to her; she remarkedthat “men, even priests, were very insulting to women, I thought, handing outwhat they felt suited their intelligence--in other words, pious pap.”5 Thérèselacked, she thought, the heroism necessary for sainthood:What kind of a saint was this who felt she had to practice heroiccharity in eating what was put in front of her, in taking medicine,3lbid., 45.4lbid., 46.5By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day. edited and with anintroduction by Robert Ellsberg, (New York: Alfred ICnopf, 1983) 189,83enduring cold and heat, restraint, enduring the society of mediocresouls, in following the strict regime of Carmelite nuns which she hadjoined at the age of fifteen? A splash of dirty water from the carelesswashing of a nun next to her in the laundry was mentioned as a‘mortification,’ when the very root of the word meant death. And Iwas reading in my Daily Missal of saints stretched on the rack, burntby flames, starving themselves in the desert, and so on.6At that time, Joan of Arc more closely fitted Day’s idea of what a saint shouldbe--an heroic martyr who died in the service of others.7But ultimately, Day found meaning in the ordinariness of Thérèse’s life:she recognized that Thérèse had gained popularity among ordinary peoplethemselves, among workers. “It was the masses who first proclaimed her asaint, “she wrote, “ft was the ‘people.’ “8 Day found comfort in Thérèse’s “littleway,” her understanding of herself as a little child, wholly dependent on God’swill. Day and others admired Thérèse, she argued, because “she was so muchlike the rest of us in her ordinariness. In her lifetime there are no miraclesrecounted; she was just good, good as the bread which the Normans bake inhuge loaves.”9 Furthermore, Day argued, Thérèse demonstrated to ordinarypeople that they did matter- -that whatever they did, no matter how small andseemingly insignificant, mattered. The “little way” was significant in the eyesof God. Thus, for Dorothy Day, Thérèse’s life had a political as well as areligious message to contemporary Catholics: with twentieth-centurygovernments becoming stronger and more centralized, ordinary people feltincreasingly ineffectual--but Thérèse demonstrated that even small actsperformed by a single person had significance. Thérèse is like an atom, whose6lbid.7lbid., 190.8Ibjd., 201.9lbid.84spirituality is “an explosive force that can transform our lives and the life ofthe world, once put into effect.”10Day’s interpretation of the significance of Thérèse’s life is shared byhagiographer Margaret Munro, who saw Thérèse as a threat to tyrannicalgovernments: “People who can derive fuller personality from depersonalizingconditions will have outflanked tyranny in its most essential strategy. . . . Notthat Thérèse had such grandiose results in view, but surely we may say thatGod had.”11 Day and Monro found a political significance to Thérèses life--adifferent sort of political significance than hagiographers found in, for example,Julie Billiart’s life or Maria Goretti’s life. Thérèse is significant not because shestood apart from modern life, not because she rejected the modern world, butbecause she demonstrated to Catholics the way they must cope with themodern world--with little acts, with daily life. Thérèse therefore offered Day away to bridge the gap between the life before and after her conversion. Beforeher conversion, she dedicated herself to worldly causes; after her conversion,for approximately one year, she retreated from political activity. Thérèse’sexample provided a way to blend her spiritual life with her concerns for justicein the world. For Day, the cause of many of the world’s problems, such ashomelessness, famine, and war, was sin: by following Thérèse’s “little way” ofsanctity, these problems could be corrected.’2Barbara Corrado Pope presents a different interpretation of why Thérèsegained so much popularity during the early twentieth century: Pope arguesthat Thérèse’s example provided a justification for Catholics who, alreadyuncomfortable with secular modern politics and institutions, wished10Ibid,, 202.11Margaret Munro, A Book of Unlikely Saints. 218.12William D. Miller, Dorothy Day: A Biography (San Francisco: Harper and Roy, 1982), 431.85to retreat into a purely private life. These Catholics could find Thérèse’s“emphasis on personal morality to be a validation of their existence.”13 Pope’sargument does not invalidate mine: Thérèse’s life had different meanings fordifferent groups of people. Already inclined to activism, Dorothy Day wasdisposed to find a political message in Thérèse’s life, and, for her at least, thatwas the meaning of Thérèse’s life; bourgeois women of late nineteenth andearly twentieth century France, whom Pope discusses, may very well havefound Thérèses life a vindication of their own apolitical lives, focused on homeand family.To say that Thérèse’s life had many meanings is not to destroy hersignificance to the people who read her autobiography and admired her:although Thèrèse’s life may not have fundamentally changed the way DorothyDay or other Catholics understood their roles, Dorothy Day and others wereable to find a place for themselves within Catholicism because of Thérèse. Herautobiography was, ultimately, sufficiently rich in meaning to appeal toactivists and homemakers, philosophers, singers, and monks,’4all of whomthought they were following in her footsteps. Whether her life was interpretedas political or apolitical, she may have been, as Pope Pius X called her, “thegreatest saint of modern times;95 because of the ordinariness of her life, sheappealed to contemporary Catholics; unlike medieval saints, revered because oftheir extreme ascetism, she was venerated for her small acts of holiness.Although many miracles were attributed to her intercession after her death,which accounted for some of the spread of her popularity,’6people chose to13Barbara Corrado Pope, “A Heroine Without Heroics: The Little Flower of Jesus and HerTimes,” Church History 57 (March 1988): 38-59.14Ibid., 4615Ibid.‘6lbid., 50.86ask her for the performance of miracles because they regarded her, whom theyknew primarily through her spiritual autobiography, as authentically holy.Their judgment that the “little way” was holy accounted for their decision toinvoke her name; medieval Catholics would have recognized sanctity in a verydifferent sort of woman--a Catherine of Siena or a Dorothy of Montau, forexample, who were known for their extreme ascetism.Like Thérèse, Dorothy Day’s life represents a new, modern sanctity tocontemporary Catholics: unlike Thérèse, Day has not been canonized, nor has acause for her canonization been initiated.17 Kenneth Woodward reports thatsome of Dorothy’s grandchildren and some members of the Catholic Workermovement oppose her canonization on the grounds that the canonizationprocess is too expensive: the money would be better spent on the poor, inmemory of Dorothy’s dedication to the poor. Furthermore, as a humble person,they argue, Dorothy would not have wished to be elevated to the status ofsaint: she, in fact, did not like to be called a saint when she was living.18 AsWoodward explains, Dorothy’s followers want her to remain a “peoples saint”and not be transformed into a “church saint” through the canonization process.Day’s name has appeared in a number of sources as an example ofmodern sanctity--an alternative saint to those formally canonized. Timemagazine mentioned Day in its 1975 cover story “Saints Among Us,” whichdescribed Day’s fights for justice, often resulting in her arrest; “she has beenjailed eight times--most recently as an illegal picketer for Cesar Chavez’s17Kenneth Woodward, Making SaInts. 39-46.18Dorothy Day gave Lye reasons for not wishing to be called a saint. First, she thoughtthat people would ignore her as somehow irrelevant if she were a saint; on this topic, seeHester Valentine, Saints for Contemnorary Women. 171. Second, she did not want people toimitate her vices, particularly her conduct before conversion; on this topic, see William D.Miller, Dorothy Day: A Biography. ix.87United Farm Workers in 1973.19 Her life is also described in collections ofsaints’ lives aimed at Catholic readers, such as John Delaney’s Saints are Now:Eight Portraits of Modern Sanctity and Mary Hester Valentine’s Saints forContemporary Women.20 available at Catholic bookstores and libraries.Dorothy Day’s life became a model of the ‘activist saint” which she herself hadcomplained did not exist: both her autobiography and the narratives writtenabout her focus on her political activity, on her attempts to change the waysociety is organized, not just on her efforts to feed and clothe the poor at thethe Catholic Worker houses she and Peter Maurin founded. Furthermore,Delaney’s and Valentine’s accounts of Day’s life do not emphasize herobedience, as hagiographies of canonized saints do. Valentine mentions Day’ssupport of the cemetery workers’ strike in spite of Cardinal Speilman’sopposition to their union: he refused to negotiate with them as long as theyaffiliated with the ClO and he asked seminarians to work as grave-diggers tobreak the union.21 Valentine never portrays Day as disobedient to the church:she does not say whether Day was asked by Speliman to withdraw her supportfrom the union. But Valentine does portray her as a woman confident enoughin her own judgment to make a political decision contrary to the Archbishop’s.If Day was not disobedient to the church, she was certainly disobedientto the state: Valentine mentions her arrest in 1973 for supporting CesarChavez’s United Farm Workers, her opposition to involvement in World War IIand Vietnam, her refusal to pay income taxes which could be used to buy19Time, December 29, 1975,51.20John J. Delaney, editor, Saints Are Now: Eight Portraits of Modern Sanctity (1981;reprint, Garden City, N. Y.: Image Books, 1983). Mary Hester Valentine, Saints forContemoorarv Women (Chicago: Thomas More Press, 1987).21Mary Hester Valentine, Saints for Contemporary Women. 189.88weapons, and her refusal to comply with air raid drills.22 In Dorothy Day,Catholic women could find a strong model of independence and action withinCatholicism. Dorothy Day did not internalize the church’s teachings onappropriate sex roles: although she was a devoted mother, she never marriedand raised her child by herself—with, of course, the support of the CatholicWorker community whose members lived together as a community of equals,“the very antithesis of hierarchical rank, order, and command”23whichcharacterized the structure of the church itself. Her daughter was animportant part of her life but not her life’s main focus: concerned that herdaughter was not getting what she needed by spending her youth in theCatholic Worker houses, she sent her to an agricultural school--Tamar wasdeeply interested in agriculture--in Canada, where she boarded with one ofDorothy’s close friends.24 Dorothy did not subordinate her family to her work,but neither did she subordinate her work to her family, as Popes Pius XII andPaul VI both advised for women who worked outside the home.Dorothy Day lived what could be reasonably called a “feminist” life inspite of her indifference to feminism as a philosophy and political cause.Before her conversion, she marched with suffragists, despite her belief thatthe vote would do little--if anything--to alleviate the world’s problems. Shewas an indifferent suffragist but a determined protester: she bit the wardenwho tried to arrest her for marching in support of women’s right to vote; asWilliam Mifier argues, ‘while most of the women there probably exceededDorothy in the strength of their commitment to women’s suffrage, none othererupted as she did to make the confrontation with (the warden) so personal2216jd 189-191.23Kenneth Woodward, Making Saints. 32.24My Hester Valentine,, Saints for Contemporary Women. 187.89and vjolen.”Z Dorothy’s actions--widely reported in the press and recorded inseveral narratives--have probably made a greater impression on Catholicwomen than her indifference; a woman who professes strong beliefs inwomen’s suffrage but does nothing makes less of an impression than a womanwho professes indifference but marches for the cause, gets arrested, andviolently and determinedly resists arrest.Catholic feminists had other worthy examples to follow besides DorothyDay--notably Joan of Arc, the widely known fifteenth-century martyr. Thesecular feminist movement had already invoked Joan of Arc’s example as earlyas 1848--at the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention where delegates votedin favour of supporting women’s suffrage. American feminist Elizabeth CadyStanton drew the conventions attention to the importance of Joan of Arc: Joan,she argued, had trusted her own conscience and her conviction that the voicesshe heard were authentic. As Stanton explained, Joan of Arc demonstrated theimportance of listening to the “voices” women heard: “Voices were the visitorsand advisors of Joan of Arc. Do not ‘voices’ come to us daily from the haunts ofpoverty, sorrow, degradation and despair, already too long unheeded? Now isthe time for women of this country, if they would save our free institutions, todefend the right (to vote).”26 Stanton herself was not Catholic: she was raisedas a Presbyterian and later embraced her own kind of Christianity, based on an“affectionate, androgynous God.”27But the secular feminist movement often influences religious feministmovements. Consequently, Stanton’s invocation of Joan of Arc may have25William D. Miller, Dorothy Day: A Biography, 95.26Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted by Anne Liewellyn Barstow, Joan of Arc: Heretic. Mystic.Shaman (Lewist.on, NY; Queenston, Ontario: Edwin Mellen Press, 1986), 130.27Elisabeth Griffith, In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cadv Stanton (New York,Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), viii, 19.90helped shape Catholic suffragists’ understanding of Joan. Years after theSeneca Falls Convention, Catholic feminists formed Joan’s International Alliance(later St. Joan’s International Alliance) to lobby for women’s suffrage. InFrance, the CongresJeanne d.4rc first met in 1896; in 1906, a majority of thedelegates voted in favour of women’s suffrage.28 Joan of Arc’s example andpolitical convictions were sufficient to inspire many Catholic women to endorsefemale suffrage despite the pope’s opposition: after 1919, however, when PopeBenedict XV spoke in favour of female suffrage, many more French Catholicwomen joined the cause.29 Catholic women in England organized later thanthey did in France (English Catholic women founded their suffrage society in1911), but they, too, adopted Joan of Arc as their patron.30 The example ofJoan of Arc alone was never sufficient to move women in favour of femalesuffrage: but, as with Dorothy Day, Joan’s example provided Catholic suffragistswith a predecessor who could legitimize their claim to being both Catholic andsuffragist; after the pope endorsed female suffrage, Joan’s example could beinvoked at public meetings to generate enthusiasm. The existence of a Catholicfemale heroine like Joan enabled Catholic feminists to legitimize--tothemselves if not to others--their place within Catholicism: they invoked Joan’sexample to claim an historical precedent for independent women whochallenge secular authority but nevertheless remain devout Catholics.But Catholic feminists--or feminists in general--have never hadexclusive control over the way Joan’s life has been interpreted. Before hercanonization in 1920, French patriots and Catholic conservatives championed28St.even C. Hause and Anne R. Kenney, “The Development of the Catholic Women’sSuffrage Movement in France, 1896-1922,” The Catholic Historical Review 67 (January1981): 20-21.29Jbid 27.30Francis M. Mason, “The Newer Eve: The Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society in England,1911-1923,” The Catholic Historical Review 72 (October 1986): 621.91her as a martyr for France and for God.31 In 1894, for example, Isabel O’Reillypraised Joan’s gentle unassertivenness,’ her piety, and, most of all, her abilityto spin thread; O’Reilly contrasted Joan’s unselfish devotion to her country andGod with the selfish motives of the ‘new woman.”32 After her canonization,Catholic conservatives continued to portray Joan not as an independentvisionary, confident enough to defy secular and clerical authority, but as ahumble, submissive model of femininity. In 1961, for example, Luke Farleyincluded Joan in his collection Saints for the Modern Woman as an example of“patriotism and women in government.” But Farley praised her modestyrather than her leadership abilities; for women in the armed forces, Farleyencouraged Joan as an example--For such women in the armed forces, St. Joan of Arc must be a specialstandard bearer and guide, not only in her courage and sacrifice, butin the innate modesty and reserve she displayed while working withmen, some of them hardened by continued years of military service.Such Catholic women in uniform can command the same respectfrom the men in arms if they strive honestly to emulate the modestyand virtue of their saintly military predecessor in their speech,behavior, and daily work.33Catholic conservatives therefore often trivialized Joan’s life, reducing hersignificance to an example of modesty and decorum for other women to follow.Joan of Arc earned respect from “the men in arms” for much more than hermodesty, although her modesty and chastity were heralded at the time. Buther courage, strength and military skill did as much--in fact, more--to earnrespect as her modesty did.31Anne Llevellyn Barstow, Joan of Arc: HereUc Mystic. Shaman, 130.32Jbjd 129.33Luke A. Parley, Saints for the Modern Woman (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961). 102.92Although Catholic feminists used Joan of Arc as an example less often inthe 1 960s and 1 970s than they had earlier in the century, their declininginterest in Joan does not necessarily indicate that Catholic conservatives weresuccessful in co-opting the image of Joan of Arc for conservative causes. Thesecular feminist movement abandoned Joan of Arc as a model for feministsmostly because of Simone de Beauvoir’s rejection of Joan as a model of trueliberation,3’1but Catholic feminists have continued to invoke her example toinspire Catholic women. In 1967, St. Joan’s International Alliance was lobbyingfor women’s ordination at the third World Congress for the Lay Apostolate.35Mary Hester Valentine’s liberal feminist collection of saints includes Joan ofArc, not as an example of modesty and “feminine” virtues, but as an example ofsomeone who sought to learn God’s will for her and to follow it at any cost:Her spiritual development, like that of all the saints, was a slowlyawakening awareness that what she accomplished would be done, notthrough her, but through the guidance of God. Hers was a hard moralschooling, through obedience to her voices and her inner conscience, aswell as through the asceticism which was obvious to her family.36Although Valentine emphasizes the importance of Joan’s obedience, it is notJoan’s obedience to the church and to the clergy which made her a saint, but toher conscience, the voices she heard, and what she understood as the will ofGod. Valentine’s obedient Joan is therefore very different from the obedientsaints described by twentieth-century hagiographers in chapter three: Joanrelies on her own judgment--her faith in the voices she hears--to discern thewill of God, while Gemma Galgani, for example, relies on the judgment of herconfessor.3’1Anne Liewellyn Barstow, loan of Arc: Heretic. Mystic. Shaman. 132.35Jean-Guy Vallaincourt, PaDal Pover. 121-122.36Mary Hester Valentine, Saints for Contemporary Women. 61.93Feminist Catholics interpreted canonized women saints’ lives asexamples of autonomous spirituality, as women who followed what theyperceived to be God’s will despite opposition from others; this interpretationdiffers sharply from the interpretations presented by hagiographers in chapterthree. Furthermore, feminist Catholics often included uncanonized women incollections of saints’ lives to expand traditional conceptions of sanctity.Included in Valentine’s Saints for Contemoorary Women are Elizabeth BayleySeton, canonized in 1975 (and the subject of Leonard Feeney’s conservativehagiography, Mother Seton), and Simone Weil, a woman who was never evenbaptized. Despite traditional hagiographers efforts to describe women saintsas obedient and humble, Valentine presents them all--canonized anduncanonized--as powerful exemplars of spiritual autonomy. As her editorexplains on the book’s back cover,They were activists, one and all--busy, almost compulsively drivenwomen with scarcely enough hours in their days, or days in theirlives. That alone should make them appeal to contemporary womenwhose own lives are filled with new challenges, new opportunities,and the stresses which these generate. Above all, these were womenwho distinguished themselves, for the most part, in times when it wasmuch more a man’s world than it is even today. Most of them were, infact, criticized by the men whose lives touched theirs as stubbornextremists, who always insisted on having things their own way.It’s true that Hilda of Whitby, Julian of Norwich, Catherine ofSienna, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Avila, Margaret Clitheroe, ElizabethSeton. Theresa Gerhardinger, Edith Stein, Dorothy Day and SimoneWeil were women of strong wifi, that they would go to extremes tocarry out their visions and their duties as they saw them, and thatnone of them cared much for that commodity called compromisewhich is so much cherished today.The sharp contrast between this interpretation and traditional hagiographersinterpretations of saints’ lives cannot be explained by the differences in thesaints’ lives themselves: Valentine’s list includes saints such as Elizabeth Seton94and Joan of Arc who were described as obedient and submissive--not asstrong-willed and visionary--by conservative hagiographers. Nor can thedifference be explained by when the different hagiographies appeared becauseconservative and feminist interpretations of women saints appearedthroughout the twentieth century. Early in the twentieth century, for example,Catholic feminists invoked Joan of Arc’s example to push for women’s suffrage,while much later, after Vatican II, conservatives continued to intepret saints’lives as examples of femininity, obedience, and spiritual devotion for women tofollow.37 Although Freda Mary Oben describes Edith Stein, who was beatifiedin 1987 by Pope John Paul II, as a feminist, Oben’s understanding of feminismis similar to, for example, Pope Paul Vi’s: she argues that women have adifferent nature than men do so they must have different vocations. Accordingto Oben, Stein thought that “woman’s unique strength” was a ‘spiritualmaternity’ which women should always use no matter whether they pursuedcareers or not, but “the family should always come first for the woman.38Oben presents Edith Stein as an example of maternal feminism to her readers,while Valentine presents her as an example of equal rights feminism: shementions that Stein raised the question of women in the priesthood.39 Equalrights feminists and maternal feminists have both claimed female saints astheir predecessors throughout the twentieth century: their interpretations37llagiographies did change through time, however. Wendy Leifelds Mothers of theSaints: Portraits of Ten Mothers of the Saints and Three Saints Who Were Mothers (AnnArbor, Michigan: Servant Publications, 1991) would not have incorporated non-Catholicsaints if it had been written before Vatican II, for example. Leifeld’s book is aimed atCatholic mothers who seek inspiration in the saints; her book is not “feminist,” but it isecumenical, including Protestants Susanna Wesley and Amy Carmichael among theexamples of outstanding mothers. A similar book written before Vatican II wouldprobably not have included Protestants.38Freda Mary Oben, Edith Stein: Scholar. Feminist, Saint (New York: Alba House, 1988), 22.39Mary Hester Valentine, Saints for ContemDorarv Women. 159.9,demonstrate that saints’ lives can have more than one meaning, thathagiographies bearing the ni/ui obstat and Jmprimatur have not monopolizedinterpretation of these women’s lives, and that these saints’ lives have meaningto Catholic women beyond the orthodoxy of traditional hagiography.Recently, feminist Catholics have collected stories about Catholic womenwho have challenged the church’s authority in order to provide an alternativeto official Catholic hagiography. As Annie Lally Milhaven explains inInside Stories: 13 Valiant Women Challenging the Church. at one time “I lovedsaintly men and women who suffered ignominy in silence. Their going to theirgraves without vindication appealed mightily to my sense of sainthood. Butnow, I love courage.. . ,The most engaging women I know are those Catholicswho stand up to hierarchical oppression, who name the evil done them andothers, and who refuse either to be victimized further or to leave theirchurch.’40 According to Milhaven, her “saints” differ from “Mother Theresas”and “Little Flowers of Jesus” (Thérèse of Lisieux is known as the Little Flower)because her saints “speak with a sense of freedom, responsibility, andindependence” beyond that of canonized women, including even Catherine ofSiena and Teresa of Avila.41 The book includes profiles and interviews of,among others, Theresa Kane, who asked Pope John Paul II to consider openingall ministries--including the priesthood--to women when he visited the UnitedStates, and Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, who urges Catholic women not to ‘givetoo much power to the patriarchal system;” instead, she says, they shouldremain within the church while trying to reshape the church to “reclaim thecenter, a center in which everybody can be included with their rights, their40Annie Lally Milhaven, The Inside Stories: 13 Valiant Women Challenging the Church(Mystic, Connecticut: Twenty-Third Publications, 1987), xiii.41Ibid.96say, their vision, and their decision making.’42 For Fiorenza, women not onlydo not have to subordinate their wills to that of the clergy, they do not needthe clergy: “1 say women are church; always have been church. But because ofour language, women as church is not even in women’s consciousness.”43Liberal feminist Catholics are not just presenting alternative saints forwomen to emulate, they are articulating a different understanding of what thechurch is. Conservative hagiographers include the clergy and the laity in theirunderstanding of the church, but they emphasize the importance of the clergy;it is on the clergy that women saints depend for instruction and guidance, noton themselves: sanctity is guided and legitimized by the clergy.By contrast, liberal feminists emphasize the importance of the laity relative tothe clergy. For more radical feminists, the laity are the church: because allwomen are lay people, they are necessarily the church. As Fffn’enza argues,women should not leave the church: they are the church. By creating analternative body of hagiography, liberal feminist Catholics create not only newkinds of female saints--strong-willed saints who defy authority and believe inthemselves, in spite of what the clergy may say--but they also construct adifferent understanding of what the church is. Influenced by Vatican II’semphasis on an increased role for the laity in the church, they define the laity--and therefore women--as the church. By defining themselves as the church,they no longer have to legitimize themselves to the hierarchy: they aretherefore free to describe the kind of saints they wish to describe withouttrying to satisfy the requirements of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.Not only have liberal and more radical feminist Catholics created alternativesaints, they have redefined the meaning of religious authority for liberal42Ibid 63, 58.43Ibid., 57.97Catholic women: they have asserted their own authority in defiance of theclergy.98CONCLUS IONHagiographies have always been used to communicate not just themeaning of a particular saint’s life to the Christian community, but also tocommunicate a theology--an understanding of God, the role of the church, andthe relationship between individual believer and God. Because of theirnarrative form, hagiographies are more effective didactic tools than formaltheological arguments, which are rarely read by lay people. As ThomasHeffernan argues, hagiography can “synthesize complex ideologies in narrativeform,” making them an important and effective means of communicatingparticular theologies.1 Many of the hagiographies studied in this thesis werereprinted one or two times: Marie Cecilia Buerhles hagiography of MariaGoretti went into a second reprinting just one year after its initial publication.The popularity of hagiographies can be explained by their ability to dramatizeand personalize theology: readers can readily grasp the theological meaning ofhagiography because hagiography is, by its very nature, personalized.In transforming female saints’ lives into narrative, twentieth-centuryCatholics presented several different theological understandings of “the church”and of how women should understand their responsibilities as Catholics. Thepredominant theological vision was conservative. For conservativehagiographers, all women possessed characteristics fundamentally differentthan men possessed; women were all mothers who exercised their maternalinstinct as spiritual or biological mothers; women were subordinate to theclergy, who shaped, interpreted and legitimized their spirituality; female saints1Thomas Heffernan, Sacred Bioraøhv. 6.99were significant to other Catholics because they opposed modernity andprogress. By transforming these women’s lives into examples of conservativetheology, conservative hagiographers described these women as instruments ofthe church, obedient to, and supportive of, the clergy. Despite theirsignificance as examples of the transcendent-- as representatives of Christ’spresence on earth--to many lay Catholics who were devoted to them beforecanonization and to their confessors, conservative hagiographers carefullypresented them as orthodox, obedient, and dependent on the church. Thepotential challenge to authority represented by the female mystic was therebypresented an an instrument of the church, not a challenge to the church.But liberals and feminists used these women’s lives to present adifferent kind of theology, a theology which celebrated challenges to clericalauthority and emphasized the importance of the saint who followed what sheunderstood Gods will to be, not what others told her God’s will was. Liberalfeminist hagiography was not simply a product of Vatican II, nor didhagiography in general become more liberal and feminist after Vatican II.Feminist Catholics are influenced by trends in secular feminism as well as byevents in the church: feminist Catholics had already begun to articulate afeminist hagiography before Vatican II, although Vatican II did give manywomen a feeling of confidence that the church supported them; afterwards,they developed a more complete and consciously feminist hagiography thanbefore. Similarly, conservative hagiography did not disappear after Vatican II:it is still being written.Female saints’ lives were, therefore, complex enough to permit Catholicsof various ideologies to find meaning in their lives. As Andrew Greeley, aCatholic sociologist explains, religious symbols precede religious doctrines:“religion was symbol and story long before it became theology and100philosophy.2 For individuals and communities of belief, religion, he argues, issymbol and story before it becomes “creed, rite, and instititution;” even after ithas also become creed, rite, and institution, religion is still primarily symboland story to believers.3 When the same symbols are interpreted by differentsub-groups of believers--by conservatives, liberals, and feminists, theyincorporate different understandings of what faith and church mean; saintslives represent different kinds of theology depending on the the beliefs of thehagiographer. By looking beyond the hagiographies which bore the athi7obsta1and Jinprimatvr to include the various collections of lives and spiritualautobiographies of saints canonized and uncanonized, we can conclude thatCatholic hagiography of the twentieth century is not a monolithic body: it doesnot promote a common understanding of women’s roles nor a commonunderstanding of theology. But conservative Catholics produced the greatestnumber of hagiographies: more than liberal and feminist Catholics, theyrecognize the importance of gestures, devotions, and symbols to conveyreligious understanding, while liberal Catholics rely more heavily on explicitargument.4 Because hagiographies are such an effective way to communicate aparticular theology, continued popular support for the various factions withinCatholicism--conservative, liberal, and liberal feminist--may depend on howwell each of these groups are able to utilize hagiography to promote andexplain their theology.2Andrev M. Greeley, The Catholic Myth: The Behavior and Beliefs of American Catholics(New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990), 37.3lbid.4See Richard Kieckhefer’s comments on James Hitchcock in “The Cult of Saints as PopularReligion,’ 43.101BIBLIOGRAPHYPrimary SourcesBardi, Giuseppe. St. Gemma Galgani. Translated by Margherita M. Repton.Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961.Buehrle, Marie Cecilia. Saint Maria Goretti. 1950. Reprint. Milwaukee:Bruce Publishing Co., 1951.Burton, Katherine. Wheat for This Planting: The Biography of Saint MaryJoseph Rossello. Milwaukee: Bruce Press, 1960.Clare, James, ed. The Life of the Blessed Julie Billiart: Foundress of theInstitute of Sisters of Notre Dame. 1897. Reprint. London: Sands andCo.. 1909.Conway, Sheelagh. A Woman and Catholicism: My Break with the RomanCatholic Church. New York: Paperjacks, 1987.Day, Dorothy. By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day.Edited and with an introduction by Robert Ellsberg. New York: AlfredKnopf, 1983.. The Long Loneliness: An Autobiography. Introduction by DanielBerrigan. 1952. Reprint. San Francisco: harper and Row, 1981.Dayet, Joseph M. Total Consecration to Mary: An introduction to the TrueDevotion of St. Louis Mary de Montfort. With presentation by JamesMary Keane. Bay Shore, N. Y.: Montfort Publications, 1956.Delaney, John J., ed. Saints Are Now: Eight Portraits of Modern Sanctity.Garden City, N. Y.: Image Books, 1983.Di Donato, Pietro. Immigrant Saint: The Life of Mother Cabrini. New York:McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1960.Dirvin, Joseph I. Saint Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal. 1958.Reprint. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Co., 1964.102The Documents of Vatican II. Edited by Walter Abbott and Joseph Gallagher.New York: Guild Press, 1966.Englebert, Omer. Catherine Labouré and the Modern ApDaritions of OurLady. Translated by Alastair Guinan. New York: P. S. Kenedy andSons, 1959.Farley, Luke A. Saints for the Modern Woman. Boston: St. Paul Editions,1961.Feeney, Leonard. 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