22 NOVEMBER 1913, Page 15


[To ma EDITOR OP THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—Please allow me to combat some of the statements made by the author of an article on " Saints " in the Spectator of October 25th. He says, "It would be a penance to most thoughtful men to have to read about them, and no modern man, we should think, was ever moved to join the Roman Church by a perusal of their biographies." Far from having found it a " penance " to read about the Saints, I shall never forget the passionate interest and admiration which I experi- enced in my 'teens on discovering and reading Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art, which was my first acquaintance with their lives. Through that book and also through reading a life of the saintly Madame Elizabeth, sister of King Louis XVI., religion made its first personal appeal to me. The joyful fact that holy people had not stopped with the New Testament overwhelmed me, and I wondered for the first time if Roman Catholics, who believed in these wonderful new discoveries of mine, could be as misguided and ignorant as they had been represented to me. I can truthfully say that reading the lives of the Saints was a turning-point in my religious life, and laid the foundation of my becoming a Catholic in later years. The author, it is true, mentions "thoughtful and modern" men, so my statements may lose force when I admit that I am only a woman, but I was brought up in an intellectual atmosphere and heard all sorts of opinions discussed at an early age, my parents taking great pains to encourage a taste for extensive reading in their children, particularly history. It was therefore not for lack of interesting reading that the lives of the Saints produced such an immense impression on me, nor because plenty of prejudices against "mediaeval superstition" had not been in- stilled into my youthful mind. I quote further from the article referred to, "Unfortunately, the religious-minded student who seeks the society of canonized saints is sure to turn away in dis- gust." Why P Let anyone with the faintest interest in religion study the lives of St. Perpetua, St. Sebastian, St. Agnes, St. Cecilia, St. Louis of France, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Katherine of Siena, St. Antony of Padua, St. Teresa, Joan of Arc, and so many other saints, and surely profound admiration of the wonderful love of God which inspired their lives must fill the reader with admiration. I fail to see where " disgust " can come in at all. Akio the fact that so distinguished a Protestant author as Monsieur Paul Sabatier has devoted much time and labour to writing his beautiful Life of St. Francis, and that the book has been so largely read by non-Catholics, disproves the amazing statement to which I refer. The author later remarks, "Occasionally one wonders if it is possible—or should we rather say thinkable P—that the devotion of simple souls elicits some response from the spirits of those who, . . . according to the hope of all the churches, are not dead but alive." I am

absolutely convinced that I owe the happiness of my life to the intercession and help of three saints. It would be impossible for me to explain this without recounting a part of my private history; but if the author of the article on " Saints" or anyone else cares for me to substantiate my statement I shall be happy to do so in a private letter in reply to any inquiry sent to the office of the Spectator.—I am, Sir, &c., A GRATEFUL CONFIDER IN THE SAINTS.