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7 Boss Catholic Women Biographies That Will Inspire You

7 Boss Catholic Women Biographies that will Inspire You -- FemCatholic.com

1. Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line

If you’ve already heard of her, Abby Johnson’s story can sound almost like a fairy-tale conversion: Pro-choice  Abortion clinic worker becomes a Catholic Pro-Life Leader. Classic. But that story didn’t happen overnight; it unfolded moment by moment, in Abby’s very real, very human life. Unplanned takes you along for the ride, through the tension, the uncertainty, and the encounters that in hindsight, form a cohesive story, much like many of our own lives.

If you’re Pro-Life, a Feminist, or both – this book is one you need to read.

You can get the book here.

2. Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles

Growing up, I knew of Mother Angelica (thanks Grandma! 😉 ), but I never realized what a down right miraculous story was behind her fame. As the Amazon description goes, “In 1981, a simple nun, using merely her entrepreneurial instincts and $200, launched what would become the world’s largest religious media empire in the garage of a Birmingham, Alabama, monastery. Under her guidance, the Eternal Word Television Network grew at a staggering pace, both in viewership and in influence, to where it now reaches over a hundred million viewers in hundreds of countries around the globe.”

You can get the book here.

3. Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement

When it comes to modern feminism, Sue Ellen Browder gets it. One could argue that she helped create modern feminism! For years Browder worked as a journalist at Cosmopolitan, lauding the benefits of contraception, abortion (she had one herself), and sexual freedom to women across the country. In many ways, she planted the seeds on which the modern feminism movement grew. Then at the age of 57, she converted: first to Catholicism, and then to Pro-Life feminism. What causes someone to experience such a deep, and dramatic shift?

You’ll have to read the book to find out 😉

You can get the book here.

4. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Face to face with the man who killed your entire family, would you offer him… forgiveness? Immaculée Ilibagiza did. She is – in my opinion – a modern day Saint, who’s courage and faith is the kind that radiates and leaves an unforgettable mark on those who even just hear her story. Immaculée survived for months in a tiny bathroom, squeezed into hiding with a group of other women in order to survive the horrors of the Rwandan genocide. There, she encountered the utmost spiritual turmoil – listening to people be slaughtered while unable to respond. Yet in the depths of such evil, she clung to prayer – and there she found power: the power to hope, and the power of unconditional love.  She is a witness to the all of us who have experienced fear, loss, or suffering.

You can get the book here.

5. Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila

This book is said to have prompted the conversion of Edith Stein – the “feminist” Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Supposedly, upon finishing the autobiography, Edith set it down and proclaimed “This is the Truth!” Thus began her conversion to Catholicism, through which she ultimately answered the call to religious life as a Carmelite nun (like St. Teresa of Avila 🙂 ). The autobiography describes Teresa’s childhood and spiritual crises, as well as her mystical experiences and four-step process to divine union with God. A powerful first-person account from the first woman to be honored as a Doctor of the Church.

You can get the book here.

6. Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy

Called “a saint for our times,” Chaira Corbella Petrillo passed away only 15 years ago, in 2002, at the age of 28. She was in some ways such a “normal” young woman – living an ordinary life, met a man and fell in love, got married, and then pregnant. Yet she was called to intense suffering in the years that followed, and her “yes” to all that she faced reveals the depth of her faith. Chaira’s first child was diagnosed with severe disabilities in utero, and after refusing pressure to abort, the baby died shortly after birth. She became pregnant again, only to lose that second baby as well. Chiara and her husband questioned whether they should remain open to life. The third time she became pregnant, she herself received a diagnosis – cancer. Refusing to risk the health of this baby, she delayed cancer treatments until after he was born. By that point, they learned the cancer had spread too much and was terminal.

Though facing incredible pressure to give in to the darkness of her situation, Chiara remained joyful. The cover of this book is a picture of her that was taken shortly after losing her eye to the cancer. Her cause for canonization was opened earlier this year.

You can get the book here.

7. Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother

Released just last month, this intimate look into the life of Dorothy Day is another rare gem in the legacy of modern Catholic women. Dorothy lived in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles during the 20th century, and is known for starting the Catholic Worker Movement. But beyond even her public accomplishments, her personal conversion is deeply inspiring, too. She lived a “disorderly” life, and become pregnant out of wedlock twice – one pregnancy which she ended through abortion. Dorothy had a heart for non-violence and used her gifts as a writer to advocate for peace; she was even credited by the USSCB with helping establish the Catholic Church’s principle of non-violence.

During her life she met Mother Theresa, was honored with the Laetare Medal (for outstanding service to the Church) by the University of Notre Dame, and had an entire issue of the Jesuit magaine America devoted to her in 1972 (while she was still alive!).

An incredible woman in many respects – it’s not often we have the chance to peer into her life in the intimate way only a family member can provide. This book is one you don’t want to miss.

You can get the book here.

The legacy of Catholic women in the Church is vast – women of all different personalities, all different situations, and all different calls. Don’t underestimate what God could be doing with YOUR story, if you let Him write it.

What other Catholic women have inspired you with their stories?


Samantha Povlock is the Founder + Creative Director of FemCatholic. You can learn more about her here.

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