Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: Fearless: Stories of the American Saints by A. Camille and P. Boudreau

Fearless: Stories of the American Saints by Alice Camille and Paul Boudreau

This anthology of saints' lives looks at men and women who served the Christian faith and the people of North America. The stories range from the French Jesuits (Isaac Jogues and companions) who were martyred in what is now northern New York during the mid-1600s to the millionaire heiress (Katherine Drexel) who worked tirelessly to serve Native and African American communities during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

As a reader might guess from the title, many of these saints faced daunting tasks. Father Damien of Molokai volunteered to serve the Hawaiian community of lepers on an isolated peninsula for sixteen years. Junipero Serra was tasked to establish a few missions on the California coast and achieved twenty-one in spite of an ulcerated leg on which he had to walk up and down the countryside. Some of these saints were humbly obedient to their superiors, even when those superiors were unhelpful or even contrary. For them all, faith in God gave them the steadfastness to work on.

Surprisingly, only three of the fourteen saints were born in America. Most were immigrants from Europe, called by their religious orders or life circumstances to cross the Atlantic and work for the salvation of souls. The immigrant experience is one of the defining characteristics of American life. Like many immigrant stories, these show the dedication and hard work that constantly renews the American spirit and more so the Catholic faith in America.

Each story is ten to fifteen pages long, so none of them are very in-depth but they do give the highlights of what the saints did and a sense of their individual personalities. The book has a bibliography for further reading if a particular saint's story makes a reader want to find out more.


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