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Scarlet Letter Saints: Three Women Who Prove That Nothing is Impossible for God

Written by Ann Burns

June 21, 2021

When the Villains are Beautiful

It’s easy to think of saints as superhuman. People who seldom failed and possessed a burning love for God from an early age, and so forth. But saints were ordinary individuals who stumbled a lot. They became saints because they never failed to get back up after they fell. 

Sainthood is not for just a few exceptional souls; it is for everyone. God created all of us for Heaven; that means He created YOU to be a SAINT. 

However, it’s up to you whether or not you wish to respond. 

Maybe we think that our sins are just too great, our past too heavy, or our wills too weak.  

“How could I ever be as docile and sweet as St. Therese?” 

“How could I ever give up the glories of this world?”

“I’m too attached to my sins.”

Whatever it may be, what are the excuses that hold you back? And in turn, I ask, “Is there anything too hard for God?” Gen. 18:14

A wise man once told me, “your sanctity is ultimately God’s project. That is very freeing. God only asks you to follow.” 

Here are three women who lived crazy, scandalous lives. Yet, through the grace of God, they gave up the world and became awe-inspiring saints.

St. Mary of Egypt 

Mary was born in the mid 300s AD. When she was just a young girl she became a prostitute, and she reveled in her promiscuity. She championed the oldest profession for nearly twenty years.  

…And she relished it.  

She enjoyed the sins of the flesh so much.  She joined a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross only because she wished to seduce the men along the way. She was wild. 

When the crowd arrived at a church to venerate the relic of the Cross of Christ, Mary found that an unseen force prevented her from entering.  In fact, the force was so powerful that it propelled her away from the church. She tried again and again to enter, but each time she could not enter the church. 

She broke down in tears of repentance and begged the Blessed Mother to let her into the church. She promised that if she could enter, she would give up her sinful ways for good. Our Lady heard Mary’s prayers, and Mary found she could walk into the church and kiss the Cross of Christ. Mary became a hermitess in the desert for 47 years. She died after receiving Holy Communion. 

Princess Olga of Kiev 

St. Olga was a ruthless and vicious ruler — a seemingly unlikely candidate for a female saint. She was born in 890 AD. Her husband, Igor, had been murdered by the neighboring Drevelians, and she took vengeance. Eventually, she managed to defeat the people who had her spouse killed. 

She was brave. Powerful. And if you’re on her bad side, watch out.  

It’s pretty obvious that “sweet and compassionate” were not her forte. Yet, God’s grace is endless, and He calls out to each soul to come home to Him. Olga heard His call, and this fiery princess converted to Christianity. She was baptized in Constantinople and asked Emperor Otto to bring missionaries to Kiev to help spread Christianity.  

This woman who once fought in revenge now fought in love for God. 

St. Margaret of Cortona

Margaret was born in 1247 to a humble family. When she was a little girl, her mother passed away, and her father remarried. Her stepmother, however, cared very little for her, and Margaret was left hungry for love and affection. She was an extremely comely girl, so she did not go unnoticed. At the age of twelve, she became besotted with a handsome cavalier who persuaded her to elope with him. “I promise, we will be married!”

However, he never did marry her. She lived openly and scandalously as his mistress and bore him a son. One day, without reason, her lover was murdered. Not knowing what else she could do, Margaret returned to her father’s home with her son, but he refused to take her in. 

REFUSED. Yes, this girl’s life was a mess.

Finally, she found a refugee with friars, but Margaret’s trials were far from over. The sins of the flesh tempted her, and she took dramatic means to overcome these struggles. Once she went to mass with a rope tied around her neck as a mark of repentance. The friars admonished her that this was not the correct approach, and instead, she should seek a life of servitude. 

She was admitted to the Third Order of St. Francis and opened a hospital with other Franciscan women. 

Yet, her past seemed to follow her around, and scandalous rumors about her spread. Struggling to overcome these pains, Margaret realized that God was asking her to spread His forgiveness and redemption with the world. She began to preach on repentance, and she won souls for God from all over.

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