By Maria Bohan
Women are capable leaders, valuable thinkers, and worthy of being heard.
We celebrate them and their achievements on August 26, National Women’s Equality Day.
These female saints demonstrate that women are more than capable of doing God’s work.
St. Catherine was a Dominican tertiary and Doctor of the Church. She visited hospitals and the homeless, spoke out about the need for Church reform, helped bring the Pope back to Rome, and started a monastery for women in Sienna. She was a woman of great drive and intelligence who impacted the Church forever.
At age 13, Saints Catherine, Michael, and Margaret appeared to Joan and told her that she must push the English off French lands. Joan fought initial skepticism and eventually won over the French military leaders. Joan’s divinely-given advice motivated the actions of the French army. A truce was quickly broken between the countries, and when Joan went to help the French defense, she was captured by the English and eventually sentenced to death. Throughout the terrible ordeal, Joan never lost her faith in God and God’s divine plan.
After receiving a call from Jesus, St. Teresa of Calcutta started the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India to serve the poorest of the poor in the city’s slums. Members of the group traveled all across India and all across the world, bringing God’s love and care to those who needed it most. She also founded the Co-Workers of St. Teresa of Calcutta and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, which brought people of many faiths and nationalities together in service of God’s people. St. Teresa of Calcutta received a Nobel Peace Prize for her work.
St. Kateri was the first Native American saint. She kept the faith despite persecution from her Mohawk tribe and refused to marry, as she was saving herself for Jesus. Probably due to her practices of self-mortification (sleeping on mats of thorns, fasting, tainting her food, all to show her devotion) she became very sickly and died at the age of 24.
As a child, St. Josephine was kidnapped from her homeland in Sudan and bought and sold many times. She suffered senseless abuse by her owners. She eventually was brought to Italy, where she served as a nanny. When her mistress had to leave for some time, Josephine was placed in the care of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. There she discovered God and was called to serve Christ. When her mistress returned, Josephine refused to leave the convent. With help from church high-ups, Josephine’s case went to court, and it was found that since slavery had been outlawed in Sudan before her birth, she could not legally be enslaved. Josephine decided to live out her free days as a Canossian Sister of Charity, and, when asked what she would say to her kidnappers, she said she would thank them because they put her on the path to God.
Maria Bohan is a Volunteer for the Communications and Development Office at the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York. She is a student at Bryn Mawr College majoring in English and a graduate of Pearl River High School.