7 Saints Who Persevered
When you are facing hardship, remember these saints.
Sometimes, in life, we face uphill battles. Even if we feel called by God to do something great, it might seem to be an impossible task. There are too many obstacles. There are too many people who say it can’t be done. Frequently, we stand in our own way. We fear that if others haven’t been able to accomplish it, how can we possibly believe that we can do it?
Fortunately, we can look to the saints for inspiration. Although all saints have persevered in living a holy life and being amazing examples of how to love and serve God, many of them also faced those uphill battles. Some had to rise above prejudiced societies. Others had to escape captivity. Despite the obstacles they faced, they didn’t give up. Here are seven saints who persevered in the face of adversity.
While Saint Patrick most likely didn’t rid Ireland of snakes as the legend goes, he accomplished something far greater for the country. He is said to have brought Christianity to several thousand people in fifth-century Ireland, transforming it from a pagan country to a Christian one. He also founded many churches and monasteries there.
The Romano-British saint once wrote “Wherefore those in Ireland who never had the knowledge of God, but until now only worshiped idols and abominations, from them has been lately prepared a people of the Lord, and they are called children of God.”
But the Catholic bishop faced many challenges to do so, and he gave all credit to God for helping him overcome those challenges. They included escaping captivity, taking the place of a missionary bishop who was killed, being unjustly imprisoned and facing constant danger from the pagans who didn’t want him there.
Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys
St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, the first female saint from the Catholic Church in Canada, was a Religious Sister who helped care for and educate many Native Americans and Canadian colonists. She was also a trailblazer, founding one of the first uncloistered religious orders for women in the world. And the order she founded – the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Montreal – still thrives in countries around the world. She is even considered to be one of the founders of the city of Montreal.
But in order to establish schools for immigrants and children in the 1600s, she faced grave dangers. In addition to making three voyages to France, where she was born, to recruit Sisters to minister in hospitals and teach, she endured stark poverty, attacks from Native Americans and the dangers of what was then the Canadian wilderness. She also had to peacefully stand her ground against the Church’s desire to make her order into a cloistered one, where they would not be able to go out and minister to the sick or teach.
Saint Therese de Lisieux
Another native of France who found the courage to challenge authority is St. Therese de Lisieux. Even though she was prone to illness and loved her widowed father dearly, she felt called to become a cloistered nun. But the order wouldn’t accept her because of her age.
Determined, she traveled with one of her sisters, her father and the Abbe Reverony of Bayeux to meet Pope Leo XIII. In a letter, she wrote “I didn’t want to return without speaking to the Pope. I spoke, but I did not get it all said because M. Reverony did not give me time. He said immediately: ‘Most Holy Father, she is a child who wants to enter Carmel at fifteen, but its superiors are considering the matter at the moment.’ I would have liked to be able to explain my case, but there was no way. The Holy Father said to me simply: ‘If the good God wills, you will enter.’”
Besides meeting with the Pope, she prayed at many shrines. She was able to enter the Carmel at Lisieux in April 1888, when she was only 15. Although she passed away at the age of 24, she spread joy at the convent, and, after her passing, the beloved saint spread joy and faith throughout the world.
Saint Josephine Bakhita
Another saint whose dream of becoming a nun didn’t come easily is St. Josephine Bakhita. Captured and enslaved in Sudan when she was only a child, the saint was severely abused and suffered at the hands of her first four “owners.” Although the last two families treated her like a trusted servant, when she and the child she took care of had to stay with Canossian Sisters in Venice, Italy – during a family move – she realized it was where she was meant to be.
To legally win her freedom and, later, entrance into the religious order, she had to find the courage to fight racism and injustice. After everything she had endured in her life, she finally became a Daughter of Charity in 1896. She went on to become a beloved nun who brought kindness and compassion to many children and adults. After surviving so much suffering, she was finally treated with the love, respect and dignity she deserved.
Saint Martin de Porres
Another saint who had to overcome discrimination to see his dream come true is St. Martin de Porres. Although he wasn’t a slave, his mother was a freed slave of either African or Native American descent. His father was a Spaniard who never married the saint’s mother and left the family when the saint was a child. Because of laws/rules in Peru in the late 1500s that forbade people of African or Native American descent from joining religious orders, he wasn’t allowed to join on his first attempt. But he didn’t give up. He humbly volunteered at the Dominican priory in Lima and did menial jobs.
They promoted him to servant boy and later to jobs with more responsibilities. After several years of servitude, he impressed the prior, Juan de Lorenzana, so much that the prior disregarded the law and allowed him to become a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. Despite being ridiculed by other members of the priory, he went on to become known for his great
compassion, kindness and ability to perform astounding miracles. He also founded an orphanage for abandoned children and slaves and became renowned for performing medical miracles and constantly risking his life caring for the sick.
While it took St. Martin de Porres several years of hard work to see his dream become reality, it took St. Monica even longer to see hers come true. In the fourth century, the devout Christian had been widowed by an official in Tagaste, North Africa. Although he became a Christian shortly before he passed away, the angry man lived most of his life as a pagan and wouldn’t allow their three children to be baptized.
When their oldest child, Augustine, was a young man, he returned home to tell his mother that he joined the Manichaeism religion that was popular at that time. She cast him out of her home but soon regretted it. She followed her son to Italy to try to get him to convert to Christianity. Along with seeking the help of St. Ambrose, she spent 17 years weeping, sacrificing and praying for her son. Fortunately, she lived to see her son get baptized and live a Christian life. Although she only lived for less than a year after his conversion, her love and tireless devotion helped him to not only be a great Christian, but a great saint as well.
Saint Francis de Sales
For St. Francis de Sales, a highly educated nobleman, his first dream of becoming a priest came true after he finally convinced his reluctant father to give his consent. But a subsequent dream involved an arduous journey. In 1594, after the missionary before him retreated out of fear, the saint volunteered to take on the nearly impossible mission of restoring the Catholic faith to an area where Catholicism had previously been outlawed.
He left behind his wealth and traveled – with his cousin – by foot several treacherous miles each day to encourage the people to not be afraid to return to their faith. Not only did he miraculously survive violent attacks from people who were against Catholicism, he once slept in a tree to escape wolves and had to be rescued from the frozen wilderness by peasants. After four years of risking his life and ministering to the people, he fulfilled his dream of restoring the community to its Catholic faith.
You Can Preserve
The next time we face those uphill battles, we can think about these saints. No matter what obstacles stood in their way, they peacefully overcame them with faith, grace and love. They trusted in God, did everything they could and prayed for God’s grace. God gave them all the strength and courage to bring lasting goodness into the world.