Ten Catholic women who changed the world

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Edith Stein, St Teresa of Avila, St Thérèse of Lisieux and St Catherine of Siena are depicted in a stained-glass window in Montauk, New York (Photo: CNS)

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The Catholic Herald profiles 10 Catholic women who transformed the planet with their holiness, untiring work and incredible creativity.

1. Phyllis Bowman

On May 7 Britain lost arguably its most dynamic fighter for the unborn. Phyllis Bowman was a journalist on Fleet Street before she became involved in the parliamentary struggle for the rights of unborn children and people at risk of euthanasia.

She was not always pro-life, working for a medical newspaper and seeing the plight of the disabled in hospital. But she became convinced by the pro-life position after researching the causes of disabilities in unborn babies. At the time she also suffered a terrible tragedy with the death of her first husband.

From 1967 to her final days, Bowman waged what she called her “battle for the baby”. During her last weeks she dictated letters and gave instructions to her group of campaigners from her hospital bed.

Bowman was born Jewish, had a period of agnosticism and then converted to Catholicism. Her faith and her pro-life mission became entwined. But Bowman never felt superior because of her Catholicism and sought new members for the pro-life movement from every religion and walk of life.

She often quoted Paul VI on life issues and was motivated by the teachings of Blessed John Paul II. She attended seven different conferences with the late pope. Bowman was inspired especially by John Paul’s message that pro-lifers may strive for attainable goals.

2. St Thérèse of Lisieux

In 1897, when St Thérèse died, stricken by TB, most regarded her as an average nun, without extraordinary ability. History has shown otherwise. She was canonised in 1925, proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by John Paul II and her book Story of a Soul established a radical path to redemption, the Little Way.

The idea was of seeking holiness in humble, everyday life was inspired by Thérèse’s convent life, which was not always easy. On one occasion, she pinned up pictures of the saints by her bed, which some other nuns thought laughable. But she offered up these little hardships and had a strategy of being especially kind to those who held her in contempt.

FULL STORY Ten Catholic women who changed the world (Catholic Herald)

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