“Why is it mainly women who pass on the faith?” Pope Francis said in January at a daily Mass. “Simply because the one who brought us Jesus is a woman. It is the path chosen by Jesus. He wanted to have a mother: The gift of faith comes to us through women, as Jesus came to us through Mary.”

And as St. Jean Vianney often said, “Virtue passes from the heart of the mother to the heart of the children.”

About his spirituality, he said, “After God, it is the work of my mother.”

Margherita Sanson, St. Pius X’s mom, raised him and his siblings to pray throughout the day, to listen to Scriptures, to attend Mass and to end each day with a recollection.

After he became bishop of Mantova, the future Pope Pius X visited his mom.

She kissed his ring and then pointed to her own wedding ring saying, “Your ring is very beautiful, Giuseppe, but you wouldn’t have it if I didn’t have this.”

Blessed Pope Paul VI, when speaking of his mother, said he owed an “unpayable debt of gratitude to his mother. … I owe my sense of concentration, of interior life, of the meditation which is prayer, the prayer that is meditation. Her entire life was a gift.”

What does it take for a woman to become a saint and thus inspire her children to likewise follow in her saintly steps?

Considering the great graces the Church has enjoyed over the past two millennia, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that there have been many saintly moms who’ve indeed raised saintly kids throughout salvation history.

  

Sts. Silvia and

Gregory the Great

Gregory owes a great deal to his mom, as we all do.

Silvia and her husband, who later became a monk, built a chapel dedicated to St. Sabas in their home, which later was expanded to become an actual monastery for monks.

Gregory came to be one of the Church’s greatest leaders.

 

Sts. Monica and

Augustine of Hippo

Many people know that it was through St. Monica’s fervent prayers that her wayward son-turned-doctor of the Church became the saint we know today.

Monica prayed for him nonstop, and, little by little, Christ came to answer her prayers — Augustine had a conversion of heart and dedicated his life to God. This is proof of what a good mom and a lot of prayers can do for a rebellious child.

 

St. Anne and the

Blessed Virgin Mary

The mother of the mother of Our Lord stands apart as an example of saintly motherhood (and saintly grandmotherhood).

 

St. Felicity and Sons

St. Felicity produced seven sons — all of them martyrs. Witnessing them all give up their lives for the sake of Christ and his kingdom must have been bittersweet for her. She soon followed them in death — and eternal life.

 

Sts. Elizabeth and

John the Baptist

When Mary visited Elizabeth and Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby, John, moved within her. At that, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and said in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear! Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me? For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness” (Luke 1:41-45). And with this exuberant and extraordinary greeting, Elizabeth introduced her cousin Mary to the world as the Theotokos — the God-bearer. Her son, John, whom Jesus called greater than anyone who had ever lived (Matthew 11:11) was to serve as Christ’s vanguard (Matthew 3:11-17). In this capacity, John knew he must diminish while his Lord must increase — the very essence of a sanctified life — and all because of Elizabeth’s motherly care and concern (John 3:30).

 

Venerable Margaret Bosco

And St. John Bosco

Mama Margarita produced not only a saint, but a saint who is loved by millions. Working alongside him, Margaret made sure the street children Don Bosco cared for were well cared for.

 

Sts. Hortolana of Assisi and

Clare and Agnes of Assisi

It must have been hard for Hortolana to trust in God and allow her two daughters to follow their hearts by following St. Francis. But that strength is what makes a good mom a great saint.

 

Blessed Juana de Aza and

St. Dominic de Guzman

Juana had difficulties conceiving and prayed for the intercession of St. Dominic of Silos for a child — the saint after whom her son was named. One night, she dreamt that a dog leapt from her womb carrying a lit torch; and with that torch, it set fire to the world. That story, along with Juana’s piety, must have inspired her son, Dominic, to dedicate himself to the Lord. He went on to found the Order of Preachers and helped stem the spread of the Albigensian heresy, which was making dangerous inroads throughout Christendom.

 

Sts. Bridget of Sweden and Karin of Sweden

Bridget, upon losing her husband, undertook a pilgrimage to Rome and became a nun. She became renowned as a mystic and soon founded the Bridgettine nuns. Her daughter, Karin, and her own husband came to visit her in Rome and sojourned with her at her monastery. Soon afterwards, Karin’s husband died, and Karin took the habit and dedicated herself to a life in Christ, too. 

 

Sts. Margaret of Scotland, Maud (Matilda) of England

And David of Scotland

Margaret’s piety, fruitful prayer life and devotion inspired all around her, including her children Maud and David. David sought to gently convert the heathen in his kingdom. He enjoyed a reputation even in his own lifetime as a pious, just peacemaker, who was always working to deepen his relationship with God. Maud, Queen of England, was also known as a just and pious queen, who was generous and caring to the poor of her country.

 

Blessed Adela and St. Trudo

Adela raised her son in a pious home. She inspired Trudo to dedicate himself to God, and, when he was of age, he studied for the priesthood and became a missionary to the pagan tribes of Belgium. Her relics are venerated in one of the monasteries named after him.

 

Blessed (and soon-to-be St.) Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin

And St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Marie-Azélie and her husband, Louis, also a blessed and soon-to-be saint, had a profound faith that inspired all of their five living children to become nuns. Imagine the love that existed in their family to produce such devotion to God — and paved the way for the witness of the Little Flower, a doctor the Church.

Holy mothers, pray for us! 

Angelo Stagnaro

writes from New York.