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The Saints of God

Ann Mellow
July 27, 2010
What do Anne Hutchinson, Thurgood Marshall, and John Muir all have in common?

They are all honored in Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints. This new volume includes all the saints previously commemorated in Lesser Feasts and Fasts and broadly expands the breadth and diversity of men and women to be honored, many from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Each commemoration includes detailed biographical information, a traditional and contemporary collect, and propers for the day. For instance, Thurgood Marshall is honored on May 17, the date the Supreme Court struck down “separate but equal” in the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, a case that Marshall successfully argued on behalf of the plaintiff.

As stated in the preface, “From its earliest days the church has rejoiced to recognize and commemorate those faithful departed who were extraordinary or even heroic servants of God.” 

Educators will recognize many of the “saints” in this new volume: Johann Sebastian Bach, Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Soren Kierkegaard, to name a few.

Others may be less familiar: Karl Barth, the German theologian who challenged the legitimacy of Hitler; Anna Julia Cooper, who was an advocate for African-American women; Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve the President of the United States as a member of the cabinet; the medical pioneers William Mayo and Charles Menninger; and the muckraker journalist Jacob Riis.

Holy Women, Holy Men
offers Episcopal schools a rich new resource for chapel and worship that can also link faith, ethics, and lived history to the curriculum.

Not everyone will agree on those selected and each of us can undoubtedly think of additional “saints” who were omitted. Nonetheless, the lives of the individuals commemorated in this volume provide ample opportunity for enriching discussions and prayerful reflection about history, moral courage, and personal faith.

And who are the saints in own schools, those courageous men and women who, through personal courage, faith, and example illuminate a way of living and being? How do we name and honor them, and how do their lives continue to inform our own and those of our students?

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