This summer, my husband and I took our girls to see Wonder Woman when it came out. At the same time, I was reading Maria Johnson’s new book Super Girls and Halos, and I kept her comparison of Wonder Woman and St. Katharine Drexel in mind as I watched.
Wait, what? Wonder Woman and St. Katharine Drexel?
Yes, you read that right. Maria has taken some of our favorite modern heroines from film, TV, and comic books and made comparisons to some of the great female saints, beginning with this summer’s blockbuster-starring Wonder Woman. If you didn’t get the chance to see the movie, I tell you that you’re missing out on a story that resonates well with our Catholic sensibilities. As Maria points out, Wonder Woman is motivated by a duty to protect humanity and by her love for humanity. Love is her reason for stepping into mortals’ lives.
How is this like St. Katharine Drexel? Katharine was from a wealthy family with three daughters. When her parents died and left their fortune to the girls, the sisters worked together to found organizations dedicated to education of minorities across the country, especially Native Americans and African Americans. Their goal was not only to help, but to do so that preserved the dignity of those they would serve. Maria writes that their step-mother Emma was fond of saying “kindness may be unkind if it leaves a sting behind.” Eventually, Katharine would go on to found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People (now known as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament). By the time Mother Katharine Drexel passed away at the age of 96, “her order had opened more than 140 missions, nearly 50 grammar schools, and dozens of high schools.” Love was Katharine’s motivation for stepping into the lives of those who were less fortunate than she.
Maria not only has compiled a great collection of biographies of both saints and strong women in fiction, but she has done so in a way that enables the reader to learn from both sets of women. Of all the fictional women, only Dana Scully was unfamiliar (though not unknown) to me, but I found that about 1/3 the saints were women I knew nothing about.
All in all, I really enjoyed Maria’s humor and insight into these characters and saints, as well as her demonstrations of how to incorporate their virtues into our own lives. I can’t recommend Super Girls and Halos enough!
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Copyright 2017 Christine Johnson