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Posted June 17, 2012

Book: Stages on the Road
Author: Sigrid Undset
Christian Classics. Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN. 2012. pp. 208

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

This forgotten treasure from the Nobel Prize --- winning author of Kristin Lavransdatter is a fascinating collection of saints' lives, a prophetic critique of modernity, and a surprisingly contemporary take on being Catholic --- in particular a Catholic woman --- in a sometimes hostile secular world. In the spirit of G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, Underset introduces readers to the stories of somewhat forgotten Catholic figures like Angela Merici and the English martyrs Margaret Clitherow and Robert Southwell --- people who stood fast to their faith in face of both intellectual and political hostility.

An Excerpt from the Book:

St. Angela Merici

Although Urban VIII decreed in 1631 that public worship was to be offered to none but canonized saints, Angela was given the honors of a saint wherever her Order penetrated, and the Holy See recognized January 27 as her festival --- it was altered latter, to May 31. The French Ursulines were the first to have a special office for her, and all over the Catholic world altars were dedicated and statues set up of Beata Angela Merici. The solemn canonization did not take place until 1807, after which a statue of her, clad in the habit of the French Ursulines, was placed in Saint Peter's among the statues of the other founders of Orders.

But by that time St. Angela Merici's Company of St. Ursula had already undergone many changes, and Angela's nuns without a convent who were to penetrate society in its separate cells, the families, had become the conventual Order of the Ursulines. Angela had not obtained the approbation of Rome for her work at the time of her death, and scarcely was she gone when a host of objections appeared --- mostly from parents, especially rich parents, who preferred to see their daughters either married or in a nunnery, so that they should not be left alone in the world when their natural protectors were no more. Friends of Angela, above all the priest Dom Tribesco, championed her idea: "Enter the first church you come to, go where you will about the streets, and you will meet her daughters. It is a joy and a marvel," wrote the eloquent Italian, "to see these heavenly doves collect about the fountain of the Lord to wash their wings of the smallest speck, nourish themselves with the corn of the elect, quench their thirst in the wine of virginity, and return to their homes with soul and heart fixed upon heavenly things. Formerly such blessings could only be enjoyed within the convent walls, but in our day they are to be had in the world, and this is due to the work of Angela Merici." And he points out that among the Ursulines there are many whose first duty is plainly towards old and infirm parents and mothers too poor to hire help, or who are otherwise called to perform God's work in ways that are impossible to cloistered nuns.

Table of Contents:

Ramon Lull of Palma

St. Angela Merici: A champion of the woman's movement

Robert Southwell, S.J.: Priest, poet, martyr

Margaret Clitherow

To St. James: proposal for a new prayer

Reply to a parish priest