National Catholic Register


Saints Within Reach

BY Jim Malerba

February 28-March 6, 1999 Issue | Posted 2/28/99 at 2:00 PM


Faces of Holiness: Modern Saints in Photos and Words by Ann Ball (Our Sunday Visitor Books, 1998, 254 pages, $9.50)

Ann Ball's Faces of Holiness does a great service by introducing readers to men and women of inspiring holiness, from our time, who readers may have missed.

The “Century of Martyrs” is well represented in Faces of Holiness: Maria de la Luz Camacho was shot dead in 1934 at her parish in Coyoacan, Mexico, by youths from the country's Red Syndicate. A year later, in Guadalajara, Spain, three Carmelite nuns suffered the same fate. Blessed Miguel Pro, a Mexican priest, was executed with his brothers and several others in 1927.

In each of these cases, Ball notes, the martyrs cried, “Long live Christ the King!” as they died.

Other subjects in the book died less spectacularly, but led lives that are as inspiring in their own way. Many show a wry sense of humor. Some become something like patrons for modern Catholic lives: Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian doctor who sacrificed her life for her unborn child can serve for the pro-life movement; the Venerable Thecla Merlo, who died in 1964 after a life of evangelization for media apostolate.

The book is also a good teaching tool for children: among its subjects are Santos Franco Sanchez, who died at age 11; and Montserrat Grases, who died at age 17.

Ball's painstaking research and anecdotal approach makes Faces of Holiness an excellent read that will engross and uplift readers.

Jim Malerba writes from Hamden, Connecticut.