This past week, I returned a book to the public library, and as I was passing by the new books shelf, this book with the above title caught my eye. The subtitle of the book is, “the cutthroats, crooks, trollops, con men and devil worshippers who became saints.” A bit sensational, to be sure, and to be quite honest, not particularly scholarly, and at best, (for my tastes, at least) only mildly entertaining.
It discusses the stories (mainly legends that are not likely true) about the lives of several saints before their conversions away from lives that were less than exemplary.
My favorite part of the book is in the introduction, where the author starts with, “Where is Mary Magdelene?” and then goes on to explain that scripture scholars have found no evidence that Mary Magdelene was a notorious sinner, as many of us were taught to “mis”-understand.
But despite my relative lack of enthusiasm for the rest of the book, I like the premise that the saints are not superhuman entities whose virtues are far beyond what any normal human can aspire to. One of the things I love about Roman Catholicism is the notion of the “communion of saints,” meaning all who have gone before us in death and who are now with God, cheering us on as we try to grow in wisdom and integrity. These “saints” are not just the big names the Church has recognized by canonizing them, but also regular folks like you and I who just did the best they could, and who at times missed the mark. A saint like that is someone I can identify with…
How about you? Do you have a favorite “naughty” saint?