Happy Mother’s Day,
In honor of Mother’s Day I thought it would be good to take a look at some of the saints who are mothers. Of course, the first one that comes to mind is Mary, mother of Jesus. Her saying yes to God when told of his intent that she would bear His son, and all that she would go through in the challenges and sorrows of raising Jesus, and up to the point of witnessing his suffering and death. We should also be aware of the title for Mary of Theotokos, mother of God, as this reminds us not only about her, but also about her son, Jesus. And, while we are talking about Mary, I should mention St. Anne, her mother. While there are some different stories regarding her and the raising of Mary we know for sure that Mary had a mother and not knowing other things we can focus on the obvious debt we all owe to our parents.
Another mother who is a saint, that I always remember because her feast day is on my birthday, is St. Monica. She is the mother of St. Augustine and is known for her devotion to God. When she was young she was married to a Roman pagan and they would have three children. Through her example, persistence, and prayers both her husband and mother-in-law would eventually convert and be baptized the year before he would die. Unlike his two siblings who would enter religious life as they became adults, Augustine would be known for his focus on worldly pleasures. Monica stayed persistent in her prayers and efforts to convert Augustine, even involving the bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose, in her efforts, until finally Augustine was baptized and became a Christian, and would himself become a saint.
In quite a different mode it was actually the Emperor Constantine who would be the influence that brought his mother, St. Helena, to Christianity. She would become known for her helping individuals and whole communities from her position by works of charity. Another saintly and royal mother is St. Judith. From a wealthy German family she would marry a nobleman who was used to living a very extravagant lifestyle. But through her influence she would lead him to a simpler lifestyle, donating much to the poor, and also raise their children in this manner. When her husband died she would donate her possessions to the poor and join a religious order to serve the poor and the sick.
And a fairly recent saint is Saint Gianna, born in 1922. She was an Italian pediatrician, a wife, and a mother of three when she would become pregnant with her fourth child. During this pregnancy she was found to have a tumor on her uterus. She was given a few different options that could save her life but would result in the death of her unborn child. Instead she chose a minor procedure to be done that would save the life of her child, but put her at severe risk, continuing to give instructions to her doctors to do what was necessary to save her baby’s life even at the risk of her own. Seven days after her child was born she would die.
Even if our mothers’ have not been declared saints by the Church I have no doubt that many more of them are. And the best gift we can give them is to live to become saints ourselves.