God thinks so highly of women, made in the image of likeness of God, that he chose a woman, Mary of Nazareth, to bring his only begotten son into the world. Mary, called by the Church Fathers “the New Eve,” is woman par excellence.
John Paul II, who had a special relationship with his own mother and with the Blessed Mother, had a special love and reverence for women and the gift to the Church. In 1995 he wrote,
Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.John Paul II, Letter to Women
There are are countless Catholic women now and in history who deserve the honor remembrance in Women’s History Month, but here are a few remarkable ones you should know about.
Madame Barbe Acrie (also Blessed Mary of the Incarnation)
Barbe Acrie was born Barbe Avrillot February 1st 1566. Although she wanted to enter religious life, she was obedient to her parents who wanted her to marry Pierre Acarie. Her husband, though good, was imprudent with money and wound up in deep debt. She didn’t criticize her husband and persevered in loving and raising her family. She became known in Paris for her charity to the sick and poor. After her husband died, she entered Carmel as a lay sister. She took the name Sr. Mary of the Incarnation. She entered eternal life in 1618. April 18th is her feast day.
Mary Elfrieda Scruggs was born on May 8, 1910, in Atlanta, Georgia. She grew up in Pennsylvania. Her mother, a classically trained pianist, saw her daughter’s talent and started teaching her at 3 years old. She married musician John Williams and moved to New York. She became known all over the country. Eventually she experienced a spiritual rebirth that led her to the Catholic Church in 1957. She continued to work as a musician, including sacred works, culminating in her 1975 work, “Mary Lou’s Mass.” She entered eternal life in 1981.
Madeleine Delbrêl was born at the beginning of the 20th century and very early on became a convicted atheist. At age 17, she wrote her atheist manifesto while living in Paris. The daughter of wealthy parents, she studied at the Sorbonne by day and held fancy parties at night. She got engaged to another atheist philosopher. However, when she was 20, her fiancé broke it off to enter the Dominican order. She faced personal difficulties that eventually brought her to God. She converted not long before the Great Depression, and she founded a house of hospitality in a mostly communist town near Paris. She became known as the “French Dorothy Day,” and like Day, wrote. Her most popular book was called “We, the Ordinary People of the Streets.” She’s been declared venerable by the Church, the second of four steps to declared sainthood.
So many more
There are so many amazing Catholic women, including Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori method of schooling, Caryll Houselander, artisan, eccentric, and mystic, and Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, an Italian student who suffered heroically.
Let’s give thanks for so many amazing ones, and share these stories with each other.
Do you have a favorite Catholic woman, be it a saint, a hero, a friend? Share in the comments!