Lives of the Saints: From Mary and Francis of Assisi to John XXIII and Mother Teresa

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9780060653408: Lives of the Saints: From Mary and Francis of Assisi to John XXIII and Mother Teresa

In this all-new Lives of the Saints renowned author and scholar Richard P. McBrien provides the first one-volume compendium of the saints since the classic seventeenth-century work by Alban Butler. Featuring fascinating profiles of over six hundred saints, blesseds, and holy people, Lives of the Saints traces the paths and politics by which saints have been chosen over the centuries. Also included are concise histories of the various schools of Christian spirituality inspired by the saints' lives and their teachings.

In addition to offering a contemporary account of the saints, McBrien recognizes that there is a more universal understanding of sanctity: Catholics whose holiness has not yet been formally acclaimed, such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Mother Teresa, Thea Bowman, and Oscar Romero; non-Catholic Christians who have been recognized and celebrated by other churches, such as Martin Luther, John Donne, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dag Hammarskjöld, Albert Schweitzer, Stephen Biko, and Martin Luther King Jr.; and non-Christians such as Abraham Heschel and Mohandas Ghandi. McBrien also addresses the political nature of the canonization process and argues that there is a need to expand the ranks of saints to properly include women, Asians, Africans, married people, and those who identify with the poor and the oppressed.

With brief biographical portraits of the saints arranged according to the church calendar, Lives of the Saints is a remarkable reference source and, through its extensive biographies that are liturgically arranged by months and days, a valuable aid to devotion. Comprehensive, highly accessible, illustrated throughout, and including a bib-liography and glossary, Lives of the Saints captures these remarkable lives and powerfully reveals how they have transformed Christianity and the world.

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Review:

Lives of the Saints is a go-get-it-now book, an I've-been-waiting-for-this book, a thank-God-it's-on-good-paper-cause-I'll-still-be-reading-this-10-years-from-now book. Believers are drawn to saints because their witness and their teachings are inseparable: saints are the ones who lived what they believed. And we hope that, by learning about saints and meditating upon them, our own beliefs and actions will become more integrated. Author Richard McBrien, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame and author of the equally indispensable Lives of the Popes, is particularly interested in the relationship between the lives of individual saints and the life of the Church. In his preface to Lives of the Saints, and in its excellent essays about the history of sainthood, veneration, and the process of canonization, he repeatedly asks: "What do the saints tell us, individually and collectively, not only about the character of Christian discipleship, but about the meaning of human existence itself? And what does the action of the Church in proclaiming or canonizing various types of Christians as saints disclose about the fundamental religious values of the Church itself?" Lives of the Saints also includes biographical sketches organized by feast day (January 1 is Mary, Mother of God; December 31 is Pope Sylvester I). The book's clear structure and simple style ensure that it will serve many readers' needs: it may be used as a reference or as a devotional, or it may be read straight through. In any case, it will help Christians (or any interested reader) address what McBrien calls "the question of sanctity," a question that lies at the heart of all of our lives: "In what does a human life fully consist?" he asks. "What does it mean not only to be 'good,' but to be 'really good,' even outstandingly so?" --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Richard P. McBrien is Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism. Most recently a consultant for ABC News, McBrien offers regular commentary on all the major television networks. He is also a prizewinning syndicated columnist in the Catholic press.

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