Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur reviews a new book by Colleen Pressprich, designed to introduce the women Doctors of the Church to readers 5 and up.
There are four women Doctors of the Church: Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux. In a new picture book from Our Sunday Visitor, The Women Doctors of the Church, writer Colleen Pressprich and illustrator Adalee Hude introduce children to these great saints.
Pressprich begins by explaining what it means to be named a Doctor of the Church. She points out that Doctors of the Church are canonized saints who have a deep understanding of Church teaching and whose writings “help people understand God better.” Of the 37 Doctors of the Church named by popes over the centuries, only four are women. Each of these women was unique and had a deep love for Jesus that they wanted to share with others.
Hildegard of Bingen was born in Germany in 1098. She was a healer, writer, visionary, composer, musician, and poet, who began having visions when she was only three years old. She wrote about her visions and what they meant, and the pope sent her out to speak and share her faith with others.
Catherine of Siena was born in 1347 in Italy. She was an unusual young woman of her era who cut her hair and refused to marry. She loved God and others a great deal and cared for her family as well as the poor and sick. She stood up to people who made poor choices and was even brave enough to tell the pope who was living in France that he should return to Rome.
Teresa of Avila was born in Spain in 1515. She was beautiful, passionate, and intelligent. While she developed some bad habits in her youth, she ultimately joined the Carmelite order and rejected her previous lifestyle. She helped her fellow Carmelites grow in relationship with Jesus and taught others how to pray. She explained that the soul is like a castle with Jesus at the center.
Therese of Lisieux grew up in France. She was born in 1873 and wanted more than anything to become a saint. Like Teresa of Avila, she also became a Carmelite. She compared souls to flowers; she wanted to be a little wildflower that would make God smile. Her path to heaven was love. She offered many prayers and made sacrifices for others.
After describing each of these saints, Pressprich explains to her readers both young and older,
[God] is looking for a saint with your unique strengths, weaknesses, and gifts. ... He is looking for you to change the world by being exactly who he made you to be: his beloved child.
The text and illustrations of this book are lovely. While this short work can only touch on the remarkable teachings and lives of these four great saints, it provides a solid introduction for younger children ages 5-10. The Women Doctors of the Church would be a great addition to any Catholic home, classroom, or parish library.
Copyright 2022 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
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About the Author
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur has a Master’s Degree in Applied Theology and is the author of The Catholic Baby Name Book, The Power of Forgiveness, and Our Lady of La Salette: A Mother Weeps for Her Children. A mother of three, she is the editor of TodaysCatholicHomeschooling.com as well as a freelance writer and editor.