In her new collection of biographies of ten saints presented as models for modern-day people, author Amanda Roberts emphasizes the human side of these saints based on her own research.
Many people think the saints had it easy, but Roberts shows that they reached their “pedestal” by living lives very similar to ours. They had to work on being holy, like St. Therese, who had to overcome her annoyance with a fellow nun. She succeeded so well that this nun did not realize how much of an annoyance she was to St. Therese until after her death.
Look at the life of St. Augustine of Hippo, who could be the best example to playboys and girls who try to live life in the fast lane. St. Augustine tried that lifestyle himself but came to his senses and was converted. St. Augustine in his early life could probably be considered a heathen, having had a child out of wedlock and being a thief.
St. Teresa of Avila enjoyed life to the fullest; even when she became a nun, she still lived an easy life. Then she had a conversion moment and realized that she and others of her order were called to live a more ascetic life according to a stricter observance of their rule.
Besides Saints Augustine and Therese, Roberts covers the lives of St. Peter, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Martin de Porres, St. Elizabeth Seton, and St. Katharine Drexel. The lives of these saints show readers how human these saints were, and that it is possible for us to reach sanctity (or a “pedestal”).
In addition to the biography of each saint, Roberts includes quotes from or on the saint in the biography and as sidebars. Following each biography is a reflection for the reader to meditate on and some questions for personal or group discussion or reflection. After the biographies, there are a bibliography and endnotes.
General readers interested in a modern-day biography of some of the more popular saints will enjoy this book, and it would make a wonderful confirmation gift for anyone whose patron is one of these saints. Roberts does a great job making the saints’ lives human and realistic instead of their seeming superhuman, even similar to angels. The reader will know that these saints were actual humans, not some porcelain statuary.
Amanda M. Roberts is the faith formation director at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Andover, Massachusetts. Her undergraduate degree is from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and she has her master of divinity from the University of Notre Dame.