Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review of Saints Behaving Badly

Book #25. Saints Behaving Badly, by Thomas J. Craughwell. Hardcover. 

The cover promises to tell the stories of “cutthroats, crooks, trollops, con men and devil worshippers who became saints.”

I knew the stories of many of these saints, including Augustine, Patrick, and Ignatius. But there were many more obscure saints and stories that I did not know. The story of St. Moses the Ethiopian, a violent gang leader in the 300s who later embraced the life of fasting and prayer after seeking shelter with a community of monks, was unknown to me. Also the biography of St. Alipius, a student of the Augustine (another infamous and notorious sinner turned saint), was "obsessed with blood sports" and all types of gambling. 

Balancing the humor inherent in some of these stories with the proper tone of reverence is not easy. But Craughwell does manage to accomplish this, with each of these small (4 to 10 pages) vignettes demonstrating his basic point that a saint is made and not born, and that nobody is beyond the reach of the grace of God.

Craughwell set out to present a readable, entertaining, and inspiring book of saint stories. And with those as his marching orders, I’d say he succeeded.

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