On March 8th, International Women’s Day, women across the world are recognized and celebrated. This year’s focus is the importance of challenging one another because from challenge comes change. The Church has recognized thousands of strong women who have challenged the status quo and have been the catalyst for change. Here are just a few bold, virtuous Catholic women to teach your sons and daughters about.
Saint Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc lived a life of heroic virtue. Though her life was short, her courage and fervor challenged societal norms and changed the trajectory of the entire country of France. She believed that she was capable of doing the impossible because she knew that God was capable of doing anything through her.
Saint Joan of Arc was born in 1412 in France in the middle of the Hundred Years’ War between France and England. As a child, she had visions and heard the voices of saints telling her that she was to lead the French army to victory in the war. Though it was difficult for her to convince the male only military of her help, Charles VII convinced them and she led the French army to win important battles in Orleans and Troyes. More than the victory itself, Joan led the tired people of France to a renewed and hopeful spirit and boosted morale. Soon after her victory, she was captured and burned at the stake, calling out the name of Jesus as she died.
Saint Joan of Arc is the patron saint of France and military members. Her feast day is celebrated on May 30th.
Saint Josephine Bakhita
Saint Josephine Bakhita was known for her gentle character and great compassion. A woman who lives through horrific suffering, who chose to forgive her captures and had a great desire to make the Lord known to all. She is an example of femine strength, compassion and forgiveness.
Saint Josephine Bakhita was born in 1869 in Sudan. When she was a young child, she was kidnapped and sold into salvery. She was sold many times and suffered at the cruel hand of many people before being sold to the Michieli family in Italy. The Michieli family treated Saint Josephine Bakhita with kindness, educated her, and introduced her to the Canossian Sisters. The Canossian Sisters introduced her to the Catholic faith and helped her gain her freedom in Italian court. She became a Canossian sister in 1893 and served the order as doorkeeper and cook. She also helped prepare sisters for missionary work in Africa. Much like the beginning of her life, the end of Saint Josephine Bakhita’s life was full of tremendous suffering. When she was asked about it, she would reply, “As the Master desires.”
Saint Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan and racial discrimination. Her feast day is celebrated on February 8th.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha loved the Lord and she loved her culture and customs. Though many thought the two could not exist together, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha lived a life that integrated her culture and faith. She was not confined by what people told her she could not do and lived with great fidelity to the Lord.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in New York to the chief of the Mohawk people. When she was a little girl, smallpox took the lives of her parents and her brother and left Saint Kateri Tekakwitha badly scarred and partially blind. Jesuit missionaries introduced Kateri and her village to God; Kateri asked to be baptized. Most of her relatives did not approve of Kateri’s new faith and they began to mock her and give her extra challenging work. When Kateri refused to marry, her family’s poor treatment led her to escape and go to a Christian village in Canada. She quickly became a spiritual leader in her new community and cared for the elderly in the community and told the children the stories of Jesus she had learned from the Jesuits.
Saint Kateri Tekawitha is the patron saint of the environment, ecology, people ridiculed for their piety, and Native Americans. Her feast day is July 14th.
On this International Women’s Day, let us recognize the remarkable women who went before us and celebrate the influential women in our lives today. Use this activity sheet to talk to your children about some of the female saints who challenged the world to change for the better and to reflect on some of the women who are helping the world be better today.
If you would like to introduce strong female saints to your child(ren), check out our Bold Women of Faith box set on our website and be on the lookout for a brand new product that will help you introduce these saints and more to your children. Our faith is filled with individuals who believed they could do impossible things with God — help your children know the stories of these saints so they can be open to the ways God wants to use them to change the world for the better!