At first glance you may think the title of this book is inappropriate for a book on saints. but there is no better word to describe these courageous women who turned their lives from ordinary to extraordinary. “My Badass Book of Saints” is not just a collection of female saints and their history, but it is written from the perspective of the author, Maria Johnson, who has dealt with great deal of hardships in her life. She is a first generation Cuban American and an educator of at-risk college students, but her biggest dragon to slay was whether to surrender her faith when her husband was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease or to persevere through it. She admits she was angry and all joy dissipated within her when her husband received his diagnosis. But the audacious saints she writes about in her book, such as the dragon slayer St. Margaret of Antioch, helped her to look beyond his disease. St. Margaret did not surrender her faith and gave thanks to God at every trial for sustaining her. Her strength inspired the author to show gratitude for the small things in the mist of everyday challenges.
Maria’s book outlines the selflessness and compassion of twenty-four spiritual women who inspired her, in hope that they will inspire you too. We all have the power to be saints, but we must want it and work for it. Perhaps the most interesting female saint she wrote about was St. Blandina Segale. She is known as the “Fastest Nun in the West”. She encountered Billy the Kid, not once but on three different occasions, and was able to save the lives and souls of many. Nuns such as St. Bandina were sent to isolated, dangerous, and (non) law-abiding parts of the world. Maria describes these sisters as “nuns toting guns”. Can you imagine? A nun with a rifle or a pistol at her side? Now I know where the title of the book came from!
Most Catholics get to choose a patron saint at conformation but Maria was living in Cuba during the communist revolution, and because there was a shortage of priests at that time she was confirmed, before she knew anything about the faith, she never chose a confirmation saint. At the end of the first chapter, she describes how she spent a year studying saints to select the best patron saint for her. She chose a saint who suffered the same physical pain she suffered, that entered the convent without a strong vocation at first, and who had a humorous outlook on life. This is the saint whom she felt most compatible. Therefore, she knew it wasn’t unattainable to become like this saint. A saint absolutely worth learning more about.
Maria compares the courage and fidelity of Nancy Wake, also known as The White Mouse, to St. Joan of Arc. Both standing for justice in a time of war. The Venerable Edel Mary Quinn and St. Helena were also compared, as both did whatever necessary to spread the faith. Almost every chapter in this book compares two women, one that is a canonized saint, with one that is worthy of canonization. The author concludes the book with details about the Virgin Mary’s life and describes a beautiful way to be more like her. Mary brought Jesus into the world by birth and we can keep him in this world by becoming more like her. We must keep a relationship with her since she is present in all our devotions and is leading us to Jesus. All saints have the same ultimate spiritual model in common, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary excelled beyond all the saints in every virtue, it was the grace given to her by God.
Each Chapter of the book has questions to ponder at the end, which makes it ideal for book clubs or discussions. There is also a six-week study guide in the back guiding you through two chapters a week. All the saints you need to look to for courageously living as a woman are all there in one book. It is the perfect read for women striving to obtain virtue in a world where virtue has become lost.