Saints you just can't "get into"


St. Faustina Kowalska of the Divine Chaplet fame and St. Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower).

I realize that both are saints, and the latter is a Doctor of the Church…but still, I just can’t relate to either of them and it pains me to read their writings. Too much purple prose for me.


Yep, me too, especially with St. Therese of Lisieux. I was reading her “Story of a Soul” and it totally didn’t do anything for me. St. Faustina’s writings, however, are another story. :slight_smile: I also have an abiding love for less well-known saints like St. Teresa of the Andes and Blessed Margaret of Castello. :heart:


Pardon my ignorance, but what is “purple prose”?


JR :slight_smile:



Which saints do inspire you?

For me - St. Kolbe, St. Goretti and St. Gianna Molla.

Also, you might take a look at Maureen Digan. You can do a search or watch the video Ocean of Mercy. That her incurable condition was healed through the intercession of St. Faustina means the Saint is good to me.

Just a few thoughts.

God bless


“Purple prose” is generally used to mean very ornate or “flowery” prose. Many people (not me) find Victorian-era writings difficult to read or enjoy, for this reason.


When I first read St. Therese’s book 2 years ago. That was what I thought and I felt not too attractive to it. I have the opposite thinking about it now and come to appreciate the beautiful writing of hers - only God could give her such a gift in writing. We understand its beauty when God allows us to.

With St. Faustina, I have gad no problem at all. It is my most favorite book from a Saint.


That’s why God gives us so many of them!
We don’t have to “like” all of them; just the ones God wants us to.

I’ve always struggled with St. Teresa of Avila. I’m drawn to Carmelite spirituality–even did some formal study towards joining OCDS. I love St. Therese. I love what little I’ve read of John of the Cross. I love the life of St. Teresa of Avila, her example and attitude. But when it comes to her writings, I hit a wall. I just don’t get anything from them.

Every so often, I try again. I figure that, if God wants me to understand them, He will eventually.

There were some saints I used to “not get” that now I absolutely adore. John Bosco and John Vianney seemed like “just ordinary priests” to me when I was a kid. Now they’re some of my favorite saints.

I can’t think of any devotions I “don’t like”, but I do know that the great thing about devotions is that they suit different situations and moods. Sometimes, I just can’t say a Marian Rosary, but I can say several Divine Mercy Chaplets or Jesus Rosaries.


It is great that you are interested in the saints. May I recommend praying and asking God for help in finding a saint that you can get into. Many times saints reach out for us and we come to relationships with them. That is what happened with Padre Pio, he chose me as his spiritual daughter and i really can relate to his writing. I have also had many friends too who have a hard time connecting with the writings of St. Therese the little flower. But have come to them later and really enjoyed them. Also look at your relationship with Our Lady the Queen of Saints and Angels and see if that should grow and then grow with other saints.
love and prayers


Anything by Fr. F.W. Faber :smiley: (1814-63) (who is well worth reading BTW)

What puts me off is not so much Saints, but some writing about them: the sort that makes them out to be prissy, holier-than-thou goody-goodies floating six inches above the ground in case they are “contaminated” by real life. :eek: This is where Saints such as Aloysius Gonzaga have been so unfortunate - their biographers make them sound like, well, little beasts; not like human beings. :slight_smile:

Favourites (in no order):
*]St. Alphonsus Liguori - he went through appalling suffering.
*]Claude de la Colombiere - he was a very ordinary Jesuit, which is what is so attractive about him; no ecstasies, nothing like that.
*]Moses - 'nuff said :slight_smile:
*]St. Paul - ditto.
*]St. Philip Neri[/LIST]


Thanks. If that’s what it means, it does not bother me at all. I find it to be very beautiful. It is very common in the Romance languages.

My favorite writers and saints are Teresa of Avila, Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi, John of the Cross and Bonaventure. They are very elaborate in their simplicity.


JR :slight_smile:


I didn’t know that saints were fads you just couldn’t “get into”. :confused: Oh well, it’s absolutely no skin off their noses. They remain highly exalted and you remain who you are. :thumbsup:


St. Francis of Assissi. I have heard him described as the most favored saint of Our Lord, and I appreciate all he did for the church in his lifetime, but I just don’t connect with him the way I do other saints. Actually, I have a hard time connecting to most male saints in general. My favorites are all female: Thérèse, Teresa de los Andes, Gemma Galgani, Bernadette, Catherine of Siena, Germaine Cousin, etc. I think the only male spiritual figure I am comfortable with is Jesus. Just as well, I suppose. :stuck_out_tongue:


A really good book about saints that does not do what you find difficult (goody-goodies) is James Martin’s My Life with the Saints. Martin is a Jesuit who, although Catholic all his life, didn’t know too much about saints as he entered the Jesuits and came to learn about them and appreciate them. He takes a different view on the lives of his favorite saints (and some who are not yet declared saints). We did it as a parish book club selection. It is very down to earth and presents the saints in very human terms. It is also part biographical and Martin is an interesting fellow going from being a very well to do NYC financial wizard to Jesuit priest.


Interesting, I just bought a book titled “Saints behaving badly”. Some of the saints were pretty rotten fellows prior to their saintly conversion or change of heart., thieves, extortionist, murderers, etc.

Some of course were saintly from early childhood such as St. Rose of Lima or St Gerald but some were dirty rotten scoundrels.


Excellent (as Monty Burns would say :)).

I have two favourites:
*]The Penguin Book of Saints by Donald Attwater (anything he wrote or edited on them is worth reading - he also co-edited, with Herbert Thurston S.J., the 1950s revision of Butler’s Lives of the Saints)
*]The Book of Saints edited by the Benedictines of Ramsgate Abbey (Kent - over here in England :); I have the 1965 edition; it was certainly re-edited in 1988, and some fine illustrations were added)[/LIST]The second of these contains many more than than the Attwater book; & his book is probably better for someone to whom Saints are alien territory. The two complement each other.

For those with squillions of money & a good knowledge of of Italian, the 13-volume Bibliotheca Sanctorum is perfect: it contains everything: the entry on the BVM alone is 100 columns (50 pages) long. This is the one for libraries, & Trivial Pursuit: if you wonder how many feasts in what calendars Noah has, or how many saints named Liborius there are, or whether Constantine I is Saint or Beatus, it’ll have the answer.

If you’re Bill Gates - read the Analecta Sanctorum, which is about 300 volumes long, & counting :smiley:


Moses the Black (converted brigand, hermit, martyr) deserves to be better known :slight_smile:


I don’t mind hagiographic lives of the saints. I think they serve a wonderful inspirational and pedagogical purpose.

Mostly what I’m talking about are some of the writings of the saints themselves (like the two whom I mentioned in the original post). Their writings remind me of some of the works of the 18th and 19th century Romantic Era female authors I had to endure in high school English literature class. Maybe too right-brained for me. :frowning:

Give me left-brained Aquinas any day! :thumbsup:

Purple Prose:


It’s rather curious…

I’m a huge St. Therese fan. I’ve been one since I was a little girl. In a difficult time in my family history, she worked miracles for us. Her spirituality of the Little Way is such a source of encouragement to me. Her life, her work, her thought… I love it.

I was a huge fan of her Autobiography, too. I picked it up at the start of this month to read it for the first time since I was fourteen, and I was a little dismayed to find it a bit of a struggle to read. Her thoughts are still extremely important to me, but I have a hard time with her expression of those thoughts. It’s not that I dislike her style… it simply doesn’t touch me in the way it did when I was a little girl.

It could be just a stage in my life, I suppose. Getting ready to go to TAC, beginning to really think and reason for the first time… I go a little more for Aquinas and Anselm now. I don’t think it’s necessarily a snooty thing (I definitely don’t think I’m in any way ‘above’ Therese)… just a new interest and focus, and the enthusiasm of youth and all that. :slight_smile:

Dear Therese’s thoughts are extraordinarily full of substance, and much to ponder and reflect on. After all, she is a Doctor of the Church. I’m just having a hard time getting past the style.

dove51, Have you read G.K. Chesterton’s biography of St. Francis of Assisi? It’s a beautiful book. St. Francis is one of my patrons, so he’s always been special to me, but GK’s book gave me a new appreciation for him.


Ooh, romantic female authors? I hope you’re not talking smack about my beloved Charlotte and Emily Bronte there :frowning:

Reckon you’d like Jane Austen - she’s more of a pre-Romantic and sufficiently left-brained to appeal to you. Try Pride and Prejudice - and you’ll see what I mean.


We should also remember that much of the language of some saints is not only a wrting style of their time, but also the language in which they wrote. For example, Francis of Assisi always wrote in Italian. His language is very Florentine

Therese wrote in French, which is very romantic. Even Mother Teresa of Calcutta who wrote in English, uses a form of English that is foreign to most people outside of India, because their English is very influenced by Hindu and Muslim mysticism. Just observe that none of her houses have the traditional European names such as St. Mary’s Convent or St. Joseph’s. They have Hindu names taken from those elements of Hindu spirituality that is compatible with Christian spirituality, such as House of Peace. A good book to read, if you can tolerate Indian English is Come Be My Light, which is a edition of Mother’s personal letters and journals.

We have to read the saints within the context of their culture and their national language.

One of the few saints who steppped our of her culture was Teresa of Avila. The reason is quite simple. Teresa was totally opposed to anything that was feminine. She often told her nuns that they should be like men and think like men. Her style of writing seeks to immitate the male mind, even though her femininity shows itself in certain parts. But her regal language is very much a part of Renaissance Spain.

If one reads the writings of Elizabeth Ann Seton, one wonders if this is an American. It is very simple and very pious as the same time, not the typical writing of American spiritual writers such as Thomas Merton who are more to the point and less elaborate in details.


JR :slight_smile:

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