Saints vs. Satan

Book Pick: Saints Who Battled Satan

(photo: Register Files)


Seventeen Holy Warriors Who Can Teach You How to Fight the Good Fight and Vanquish Your Ancient Enemy

By Paul Thigpen

Tan Books, 2015

264 pages, $16.95

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How can we overcome Satan’s lies and deceptions in a world marked by such rampant evil? To answer that question, Paul Thigpen offers us an insightful book that examines the lives of 17 saints and their personal battles with the evil one. Thigpen believes that it is through saintly examples that we can be fortified and strengthened for battle, as well as learn how to overcome Satan’s attacks.

We all love stories, and Thigpen’s book is full of them. He offers a generous selection of saintly stories from the lives of “holy warriors” who were victorious in their battles with Satan. Thigpen sifts through 2,000 years of saints and presents both stories that are well-known to Catholics as well as many that are new. Each story highlights how Satan relentlessly tried to prevent holy men and women from staying faithful to God and how his attempts ultimately failed.

The stories can be frightening and comical at the same time. While it is unsettling to read how Padre Pio was physically beat up with the “hooves of Lucifer,” we also read how the saints had “pet” names for their formidable foe. St. Pio dubbed him “the Ogre.” St. Catherine of Siena called him “Pickpocket”; St. John Vianney referred to him as “the Grappin”; and St. Gemma Galgani called him “the Burglar.” These childish names for Satan remind us that even though the evil one can try to scare or intimidate us, he is powerless in the presence of God.

Throughout the stories, Thigpen maintains a military attitude toward the spiritual life. He explains, “Together, under the leadership of Christ, our Commander, the Church Triumphant and Church Militant make up a mighty army (with the angels, of course, as its third division).” This type of imagery is a major component to Thigpen’s book, and it reads more like a rousing pep talk from a drill sergeant than a listing of facts in a history book.

However, this type of language can go a little too far in its representation of the spiritual battle that rages in our world. While Thigpen does an excellent job presenting the powerful and inspiring stories of the saints, the surrounding language can paint the devil as an opposing force that rivals God. At times it gives the impression that Satan has an army equal in power to the heavenly force, and the Christian soul must do extraordinary deeds to fend off the devil’s attacks.

Overall, the amazing lives of the saints shine in this book and make it a worthy read. The stories remind us that the devil is real, and he is not happy with those who follow God. Satan will do all that he can to disrupt our lives, but he cannot triumph over God’s holy ones.

Thigpen rouses us to action with his book and encourages us to “fight the good fight” in order to attain the “crown” that awaits us in heaven. 


Philip Kosloski blogs at

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