Prayer Adventure Week Five: Holy Women and Wholly Saints Part 2

To read part one of this blog, click here.


Day Four—St Catherine of Siena

St Catherine of Siena was not a nun, unlike the rest of our female saints. She does, however, have a ton of both mystical writings and political letters, which she wrote to pretty much everyone in 14th century Italy. Part of her personal spirituality was her quest to know God as intimately as possible, and the prayer I used stems from this. St. Catherine of Sienna - Prayers | Knights of The Holy Eucharist


I really strongly identify with Catherine’s lifelong desire to understand divinity more.  To have this articulated by someone who was not a trained theologian (she couldn’t read until she was an adult, and most of her writings were dictated), is something I find very powerful. She basically free-styled her way in Christian mysticism while everyone around her told her not to, and I massively admire that.

Day Five—St Therese of Lisieux

I’m going to be honest, I’m not super interested in her prayers. She did write some, and I did use one, and I like the way she uses the imagery of a furnace for God’s love, as something which melts down your flaws and makes you new, but I’m not really here for St Therese’s prayers.

Throughout her life, Therese struggled outside of her family circle. She was frequently overwhelmed with emotion, she was bullied both in school and in religious life for being intellectually precocious but emotionally immature, and she struggled with the physical coordination required to play games as a child and work on embroidery as an adult. She was aware of this in her writings, and she discussed how she related to God as a child to a parent, how conscious she was of her ‘littleness,’ of her tender-hearted naivety and how easily it could be turned against her outside of religious life. It is of course impossible to diagnose someone who died over a century ago, but I see a lot of parallels between Therese’s childhood behaviour and my own. I’m not the only one who suspects that some of what was described as ‘sensitivity’ was likely due to being on the autism spectrum. She felt incapable of doing the things other people could, and so she focused on her ‘Little Way’. Small, unnoticed acts of kindness and charity, wherever she could place them, and a continual focus on expressing God’s love through her own actions.


I find St Therese’s story so inspiring because I think she went through life very conscious of the fact that she was different to the people around her in a way she couldn’t quite explain, but she essentially adapted her practice to suit her abilities, and remained for the most part very confident that God loved her despite her differences. I have never doubted that God loved me any less than other people, despite my own struggles, and this project is in many ways part of my journey to finding my own ‘Little Way’.


Day Five Extras—Margery Kempe and Dorothy Day

If you don’t know who these remarkable women are, I recommend you look them up.

I think Margery Kempe (a self-taught medieval travelling preacher in a time when women did not do that) is extremely cool, but given that her main trademark was sobbing loudly in public and I couldn’t find any prayers by her, I wasn’t sure how to include her. Until Sunday happened, and I ended up sobbing (quietly) in an empty church and then running through town, still crying about God. So I accidentally included Margery after all. I think she’d be proud of me, except she probably would not have tried to hide the fact that she was crying in public.

Dorothy Day did many, many things, but part of her spirituality was going for long walks to think through difficult topics. And after my Margery Kempe moment, I went for a walk in the woods to sort through my feelings, which I feel honours Dorothy quite nicely as well.


I’m not sure I recommend running, sobbing, through the streets of a small Scottish town as a spiritual exercise, but it was strangely soothing to think that I wasn’t alone in it. Knowing that we aren’t alone in our pain is something that I think draws people to saints and spiritual figures, and I think I’m starting to understand that a bit more now.

As for going for a long walk to sort out your thoughts, it’s my favourite way to think through my tangled feelings. I had a lot of thoughts about moss on my woodland walk, but this blog is long enough, so I think the spirituality of moss is a story for another time.



All the women I focused on this week had significant difficulties in their lives— physical and mental illness, familial estrangement or death, living through wars and pandemics and poverty.

But they still found holiness. And they still found their own voices to share how they experienced God, often in very personal ways. Saints are not people who do not experience struggle. And by experience I mean not just live through, but feel in their own minds and bodies. These women struggled. They struggled against men who told them what to do, they struggled against their circumstances, they fought their own bodies and minds, and they were often seen as challenging to be around by their peers. But they kept going. They struggled. Our God lives in struggle. Our God struggles with us. We are not alone.

God isn’t like a helicopter parent who swoops in and fixes everything for us. God is Jesus, the friend who slings an arm around our shoulders and says “I’m here with you”. God is the parent who scoops us up and says “I love you, kiddo, never forget it”.



Tangible connection with God: 11/10

Made me want to cry: 8/10 but mostly good crying