Excerpt: From the Patriarch Jacob to Cardinal Vaughan, from Saint Basil to Pius X, all great men, all great saints, are practically unanimous in proclaiming the prominent part played by their mothers in the molding of their characters and the shaping of their lives; many a time it has been the pleasant duty of the biographer to record such a declaration as this found in the correspondence of his hero: “To my mother I owe what is best in me.” In the case of the saints, the mother has been usually the docile instrument of supernatural favors, the living channel of grace, and one would be almost tempted to say, the necessary complement of God, His visible shadow, His faithful substitute. Most of the saints, no doubt, could repeat and apply to themselves the words of Saint Gregory the Great, still written on the walls of the Mount Coelius Convent: “It is Sylvia, my saintly mother, who gave me the Church.” Unfortunately, in the annals of Christian motherhood there are many blank pages; and too often, to his deep regret, the historian finds nothing to satisfy his eager curiosity, except the mere mention of a name accompanied with some commonplace eulogy of the vaguest character. And yet, from the heroic mother of the Maccabees to the peasant mother of the Cure of Ars, what a gallery of unique pictures, what a glorious procession of brave women, come from every walk of life! The first three centuries of Church history are the heroic age of Christian motherhood. For practically three hundred years, with intervals of unequal duration, the Christian home is under the fire of persecution; every member of the family is a candidate for martyrdom, and the mother is educating her children not for life, but for death. Their little ones breathed freely the heroic atmosphere in which Christian fortitude grew and blossomed naturally. Such fortitude had not failed in the Confessors and Virgins, and it did not fail in the Christian mothers whom we find not more faithful than other witnesses of Christ, but undoubtedly more sublime: for besides delivering themselves to the executioners, they were called upon to deliver their children as well. A sentence, borrowed from the Acta Martyrum, throws a flood of heavenly light upon this, the heroic age of Christian motherhood. The Roman magistrate said to the mother: “Sacrifice to the gods or else not only you, but your seven children will be put to the rack.” And the Christian mother answered: “Is it possible that I may have the happiness of being eight times a martyr?” The mother to whom we owe this typical answer was Saint Symphorosa, wife of the noble and charitable Getulius. Heroism was a tradition in the family, for the husband had cheerfully given up his life for his divine Master, and his worthy spouse had buried him with her own hands in the arenarium of their country house, in the land of the Sabines.
F. Drouet C.M., Paperback, ISBN 10: 1530862493, ISBN 13: 9781530862498