Getting to Know the Saints
by author Woodeene Koenig-Bricker
For a couple of years, I did a regular webinar called Saintly Secrets where I talked about the real people behind the “St.” The first question people asked was always, “What miracles did he or she perform?”
I understand why people are fascinated with miracles, but unfortunately, many of the miracles of the saints border on fantasy. No, I’m not denying saintly miracles, but stories of dragons and beheaded children coming back to life and many others tend to be more legend than fact.
That’s why in Dinner Party with the Saints, I have a section for each saint that explores the lore that surrounds each of them. Often the stories make for ripping good reads and I suspect that many have some basis in fact but basing our respect for the saints on them leads us down the path of superstition rather than faith.
(What I mean by some basis in fact is exemplified by the story of St. Francis and the wolf. It’s unlikely that Francis had an actual conversation with a wolf, but it is entirely possible that he was able to “tame” a wolf by making sure that it had regular food so that it didn’t kill the livestock. Over time, the story got embellished to make it even more miraculous.)
I urge you to read and enjoy all the hagiographical stories that abound in the lives of the saints but remember that the facts are sometimes just as incredible as the miracles. Did you know that St. Martin de Porres founded the first “humane society”? Or that St. Teresa of Avila was a fashionista in her day? Or that St. Peter probably didn’t know how to swim?
If you would get to know the saints, look to the facts of their lives before their miracles because it is in daily life, not extraordinary moments, that we all achieve holiness.
Some of us just do it with more pizazz than others!