Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review: Mothers of the Church

Welcome back to Stuart's Study. As I stated last week, Mondays are currently being brought to you by Our Sunday Visitor. This week's book from OSV is Mothers of the Church by Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey. This book is a follow-up to Mike Aquilina's bestseller The Fathers of the Church, and I for one am pleased it was written. Women have played and continue to play a large role in the Church, and it's nice to see some of them highlighted in their own book.

The first mother of the Church mentioned is THE Mother of the Church, Mary. You can't have a book discussing the mothers of the Church without having Mary in it. Other holy women from the New Testament that were discussed include Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the Apostles; Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus; and Lydia, a helper of Paul.

There are about another dozen women discussed in this book. Some have stories you will recognize, like St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine who prayed for his conversion until it finally happened. Another great saint in this book is St. Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine. She was also known for discovering Jesus' Cross, which we celebrate on September 14th as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Other saints included in this book include names that you might recognize from the Eucharistic Prayer in Mass, i.e., Sts. Perpetua, Felicity, and Agnes. It was definitely interesting to learn the stories and legends of these saints that I hear so often during Mass. I think the part I enjoyed the most was reading about the saints I had never heard of like Sts. Thecla and Blandina. These chapters served as good exposure for them, and I feel I would have never heard of them apart from this book.

Overall, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was solid, but I felt it could have been a little bit better. I know you can't include every saint in a book like this, but I would have liked to see a chapter on female monastics or Desert Mothers. Mike Aquilina has been through three revisions on his book The Fathers of the Church, so I'm sure this book will see some revisions as well and improve every time.

This is still a good book though, and I think it would be the perfect gift for the special women in your life. That's not to say it wouldn't benefit a man to read this. However, I'm sure women would appreciate a book with nothing but female saints in it to look to for inspiration and models of sainthood.