These holy women kissed boo-boos, changed diapers and, in some cases, raised their own little saints.
Here are the results of our informal poll, listed in order of those who received the most reactions in likes and loves. We’ve included some of the comments from our readers, too.
A favorite perhaps because of her inspirational patience, St. Monica (322- 387) prayed for the conversion of her son St. Augustine of Hippo, who eventually became a Doctor of the Church. She also endured a marriage to a man who mocked Christianity until he finally converted.
Frank and Katie Conetta: “St. Monica always reminds me of the power in persistence of prayer.”
Tricia G.: “I think my favorite mom saint right now is St. Monica. As a mom of boys I look up to her as a prayer warrior who didn’t look at her son’s sin and shortcomings, but loved him as her beloved son made in the image of God. She saw the amazing potential he had to serve God if only he would surrender and she brought that burden to the one who could, and did, restore him!”
Dear St. Monica, pray for our patience in this world of haste and rush. Help us to be calm and patiently aware of God’s will in our lives.
Gianna Beretta Molla (1922 –1962) was an Italian pediatric physician, a working mother, an avid outdoorswoman, and a loving wife best known for her decision to not abort her child when complications arose during her fourth pregnancy. However, she displayed heroic virtue throughout her life, joining the St. Vincent de Paul Society at the age of 12, and Catholic Action later in life. She earned her medical degree in 1949 intending to use her skills to help the poor in Brazil, but when poor health prevented that, she opened her own office, focusing especially on helping poor women.
When doctors discovered, early in her fourth pregnancy, that she had a tumor in her uterus, they recommended an abortion or complete hysterectomy, either of which would have killed the child. Instead, she opted to remove the tumor, saying, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child—I insist on it. Save the baby.” The baby was delivered safely, but Gianna died of complications a week later. The baby, Gianna Emanuela, grew up to follow in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a physician, and was present with her father at her mother’s canonization in 2004.
Carmen Pastorek Hinze: “Loving wife. Amazing mom. Dedicated doctor. She struggled to keep up with it all, but offered herself as a sacrifice, and yet we can see in her letters she was a totally normal human being.”
Libia Rios Dudzinski: “Great example of trust in divine providence.”
God, our Father, you have granted to your Church the gift of Gianna Beretta Molla. In her youth she lovingly sought you and drew other young people to you, involving them, through apostolic witness and Catholic Action, in the care of the sick and aged, to help and comfort them.
We thank you for the gift of this young woman, so deeply committed to you. Through her example grant us the grace to consecrate our lives to your service, for the joy of our brothers and sisters.
–from a Novena to St. Gianna
St. Zelie Martin
The mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Zelie (Dec. 23, 1831-Aug. 28, 1877) was canonized with her husband Louis Martin in 2015. Zelie gave birth to nine children, four of whom died. The other five joined religious life. Zelie died of breast cancer at age 45. St. Therese wrote of her parents, “God gave me a father and a mother who were more worthy of heaven than of earth.”
Marie Stamm: “She’s one of my favorites—especially when I’m having stubborn 6-year-old daughter issues! (I usually appeal to both Louis and Zelie together … since their ‘problem’ child ended up being a saint, maybe they can help me!).”
Saint Zelie Martin,
pray that I might have
supernatural patience this day,
to make me an icon
of God’s unconditional
love for my children—
especially when they need
my love and patience the most.
As the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus, St. Anne (50 B.C.-12 A.D.) is a remarkable maternal figure in Church history. … But we don’t know too much about her. However, she must have taught Mary in some way at some point to be so open to God’s will.
Hannah Elaine Bentley-Keeven: “She’s my patron saint, and I always try to look to her example of love and kindness in my own mothering (not that I ever succeed).”
Dear Sts. Anne and Joachim, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and grandparents of Jesus, our divine savior, have pity on thy loving and trusting client, and listen to the petition which I present before thee.
Oh, blessed saints, thou art both most dear to the heart of Jesus, whose beloved mother was thy own tender, devoted child! Can he refuse anything to thee, in whose veins the same blood flowed which afterwards furnished the precious price of our redemption?
Great saints, nothing was impossible to thy power and influence over the young Jesus ‘who grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom’ under the maternal care of thy glorious daughter, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. In mercy and compassion, be like unto him ‘who went about doing good,’ and come to the aid of thy servant in my great necessity!
St. Anne, St. Joachim, beloved parents of Mary, “our life, our sweetness and our hope,” pray to her for me and obtain my request. Amen.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
American-born St. Elizabeth (Aug. 8, 1774- Jan. 4, 1821) was Protestant until she became a widow and was helped by Catholics in Italy. Upon returning to America as a Catholic, she started a religious order (she was still allowed to raise her young children), founded the first free Catholic school in America and started an orphanage.
Martianne Stanger: “I love how St. Elizabeth Seton overcame so many trials, converted, loved her children and raised them well, and also put herself wholeheartedly into educating and bettering the lives of other children.”
Danielle Elean: “I’ve always loved St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Always serving our Lord and his people.”
A Prayer of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Blessed, blessed Lord,
keep us always in your company,
and press our weak hearts
ever in your service.
Forgive what I have been,
correct what I am,
and direct what I shall be.
St. Frances of Rome
St. Frances (1384-1440) had plans to become a nun, but her father ordered her to marry instead. Unhappily she did, but through her marriage she learned that her sister-in-law also wanted to be a nun. So together they fed the poor, tended to the sick, all while taking care of their families and each other. She had three children and after her husband’s death, she finally became a nun.
Carla Fanelli Dobrovits: “She wanted to be a nun, she followed God’s will to be a wife and mother — she wanted to do penance and wear sackcloth and ashes, she wore clothes befitting her station and loved her difficult husband.”
O God, who have given us in Saint Frances of Rome a singular model of both married and monastic life, grant us perseverance in your service, that in every circumstance of life we may see and follow you.
St. Elizabeth, mother of St. John the Baptist
St. Elizabeth is Mary’s relative and the mother of John the Baptist. What we know of her we learn from the Gospel of Luke. Luke tells us that St. Elizabeth had difficulty conceiving a baby but in her advanced age she became pregnant with John.
“Blessed are you who believed* that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Lesser-known but Equally Inspiring
Special thanks to our readers for pointing out these mom saints.
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity
Tracy Bua Smith: “Sts. Perpetua and Felicity … their story brings me to tears as they left behind their family and children to stand for Truth and eventually face a gruesome death and become martyrs.”
Read more about Sts. Perpetual and Felicity in Saints for Kids.
Maria N’ Seth Jansen: “St. Rita. Her sacrificial love and forgiveness amazes me.”
To learn more about St. Rita, read this kid-friendly story.
Katie Nelson: “St. Helena … because of her own personal story of conversion and how faithful she was. Also, how she never gave up hope on Constantine’s conversion.”
Here is a piece from New Advent on St. Helena, the mother of Constantine.
St. Margaret Clitherow
Amy Lynn Loomis: “St. Margaret Clitherow … She was one of three women martyrs killed under Elizabeth I’s reign in England. Martyred by being “pressed” under a door with weights placed on it. She was a brave wife and mother who didn’t hide her faith in times of persecution, but because she was so cheerful and generous, her Protestant neighbors didn’t turn her in. Her four living children all entered religion. … And somehow two more women were martyred under her reign.”
Judi Baker-Tyrrell: “Following her execution, Elizabeth I wrote to the citizens of York expressing her horror at the treatment of a woman. Because of her sex, she argued, Clitherow should not have been executed.”
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
The queen who was so generous to the poor that royal officials worried she would give away everything in the castle. They expelled her and her children from the castle when her husband died; she kept serving the poor anyway. You can read a short story about her service to the poor in Meet Elizabeth of Hungary! • Saints for Kids.
St. Margaret of Cortona
Kellie Hove: “Margaret of Cortona: a saint from the Middle Ages who was the mistress of a nobleman and had a baby boy out of wedlock. When her lover was murdered, she had a profound conversion experience. She and her child left their grand residence to live with Franciscan Friars and she took up a life of prayer, penance, and caring for the poor and sick. She was considered the second Mary Magdalene of the Middle Ages. Her son became a Franciscan Friar himself. I think she’d be awesome saint for single mothers or mothers who have had children out of wedlock.”
Read a story to your children about St. Margaret of Cortona here.
St. Angela of Foligno
Kellie Hove: “St. Angela of Foligno, another medieval saint who was married with children and lived a superficial, frivolous life until the age of 40 when she converted. Her husband and children died in a plague and she became a Third Order Franciscan, but the grace of a God helped her cope with the death of her family.”
Franciscan Media has more about St. Angela of Foligno here.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Kellie Hove: “St. Jane Frances de Chantal, wife and mother to many children and whose spiritual director was St. Francis de Sales. When she received the calling from God to start a religious order and confirmation in this vocation by St. Francis, as she was leaving her children (mostly grown up, but some in the care of a guardian), one of her sons threw himself on the floor in front of the door to prevent her from leaving. She softly rebuked him and stepped over him and went out the door. Can you even imagine?!! I believe her heart was terribly torn between staying with her children or pursuing God’s will and she chose the harder path.”
To learn more about St. Jane, read this article from Franciscan Media.