Intriguing glimpse into the Vatican saint-making process.
In 1840, Mother Théodore Guérin left France for the unknowns of rural Indiana. In 2006, she was officially canonized as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. Veteran journalist Briggs chronicles the surrounding events during that span of time. Guérin’s story is inspiring. She overcame an anti-Catholic population, a misogynist bishop and the difficulties of frontier life to establish a school—now Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College—and grow a religious order. Half a century after this great woman’s death, several nuns began the work toward her canonization, a process that would take nearly a century to complete. Briggs vivifies the tale of the various women who overcame their own burdens to research, chronicle and promote this cause for sainthood, all the while battling a sluggish, male-dominated church hierarchy. After one miracle was attributed to Guérin’s intercession, the drive for sainthood picked up pace as another documented miracle was required. That miracle came in an unlikely form—the healing of an eye of a non-Catholic, nominally faithful caretaker for the college and order. In page-turning prose, Briggs details not only the process by which that miracle was authenticated by the church, but also the personal disquiet felt by the recipient, who was forced to ask the question—why me? Indeed, the third miracle proved to be the simple answer to that profound question. The author presents an epic story that opens up over 150 years of church history, shining the spotlight on diligent women of faith who the world would otherwise never know.
Not to be confused with the 1997 Richard Vetere novel of the same name, Briggs’s book provides an equally entertaining story, with the added benefit of being true.