Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Book Review: English Catholic Heroines edited by Joanna Bogle

English Catholic Heroines edited by Joanna Bogle

English Catholic Heroines covers the history of Catholicism from the 600s up to the present day (the last woman, Helen Asquith, died in 2000). Readers get a clear historical picture, seeing the original evangelization, many key figures during Reformation, the intellectual rebirth of Catholicism in the 1800s, and the many different works accomplished during the 20th century.

The women are quite diverse. Some of the women, like Queen Margaret of Scotland and Queen Mary Tudor, are royalty who dealt with serious challenges. Some of the women, like Mary Ward and Margaret Hallahan, were pioneers in women's religious movements, the former applying the Jesuit model for women, the later organizing Third Order Dominican women into communities that pray together and serve in their community through education and charitable works. Other women were educators, like Mother Elizabeth Prout. Still others traveled far and wide spreading the Catholic faith from their English origin, like Caroline Chisholm who traveled to Australia in the 1830s. She did tremendous charitable work there and returned to England to raise awareness and helping relatives follow those who had gone to Australia as criminals or in search of fortune.

Their stories are inspirational and fascinating. They dealt nobly with crises both on a personal scale and often on a larger scale, either politically or ecclesiastically. The social upheavals begun by King Henry VIII still impact Catholics, even with the many reforms of the 1800s. Many of the women started new orders, always a challenge to find approval and assistance. They overcame such hardships with integrity and forbearance, qualities needed but not always appreciated in our day.

This book is a companion work to English Catholic Heroes which I have not read but am now very interested in reading. Highly recommended.


  1. I have been wanting to read more Catholic books and this one sounds great.. as well as the Heroes one. I am going to try and read both of them.

  2. It is well worth your time. I was just in a religious book store and came across Fearless" Stories of the American Saints, which I snagged right away. It looks very similar to this book (though it has both male and female saints).