Holy Women to Remember during Women's History Month, Part I
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The Young: Saints Anna Wang and Jacinta Marto
St. Anna Wang
One of the Martyr Saints of China, Anna Wang was a 14-year-old girl during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China. Bandits captured Anna and other Catholic women hiding in a Catholic school. Anna repeatedly refused to renounce Christ and knelt for her death, holding her hands toward heaven. Her last words were “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
One of the three young visionaries of Fátima, Portugal, Jacinta Marto was only six when the Angel of Portugal first appeared to them. As illness wracked the world in the Spanish Flu, she became gravely ill. Near the time of her older brother Saint Francisco’s death, Our Lady appeared to her and asked her if she wanted to come to Heaven then as well, or if she would stay on earth longer to suffer for the conversion of sinners. She chose to stay, despite Our Lady telling her that she would die alone. In the hospital, she suffered from fevers, an abscess, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, without the comfort of any family or friends. She died completely alone shortly before her ninth birthday… but not truly alone, for Our Lady had promised to come for her.
The Brave: Saints Genevieve and Adelaide
When Genevieve was around thirty years old, Paris came under attack by the Huns. She and an archdeacon convinced the people to pray rather than flee; the Huns diverted to Orléans. During Childeric’s siege of Paris 13 years later, she passed through the siege lines in a boat to bring grain back to the city. On her way, she prayed at a dangerous tree in the river where many wrecks had happened; two demons fled the tree. She was known for her great charity and austerity, practicing much fasting and many mortifications.
Saint Adelaide of Burgundy (Italy)
Born into nobility, she was widowed young and imprisoned for political reasons. She escaped, surviving in the marshes until her rescue. She was remarried later to Otto I; eventually, she became the Holy Roman Empress, and often accompanied her second husband on campaigns. She dedicated herself to the Church and the conversion of the Slavs.
The Stubborn(ly Dedicated to God): St. Gertrude of Nivelles and the Yi Sisters
St. Gertrude of Nivelles
This beautiful young girl rejected her suitors, wishing to take the veil. Her mother both founded an abbey and gave her daughter a tonsure (a crown-shaped shave that monks have) to deter “violent suitors.”
St. Magdalene Yi Yong-hui and St. Barbara Yi Chong-hui
Part of a family of canonized women, these sisters were born daughters of a man who hated Catholicism; his wife and daughters practiced their faith secretly. St. Magdalene faked her death rather than marry; St. Barbara feigned illness and remained in bed three years. St. Magdalene’s father later reconciled with her, but she died a martyr, beheaded with seven others in 1839.