Though saints may appear tender on the outside (note their meek and mild personality and inclination to spending long hours in prayer and suffering), they are definitely tough on the inside! After all, these people were willing to fight, often to the death, for their unshakable faith in and love for God. (Read:
In celebration of International Women’s Month, My Pope Philippines puts the spotlight on four female saints whose warrior mentality—that is, a steely mental toughness that made them stand up to skeptics, foes, physical torture, and life in isolation— is worth emulating. (LIST: Strong Women Who Inspire Young Girls Around the World)
Female Warrior Saints: Joan of Arc
No list of female warrior saints is complete without a mention of this teenage French heroine who fearlessly led a troop of soldiers to overpower the English in the Hundred Years’ War. (Read: Whose voices were inside Joan of Arc’s head?)
Following visions and voices believed to have come from God, Joan led an army of men on an 11-day journey to Chinon, where she was granted an audience with the future King Charles VII. Sporting short hair and men’s clothing, she convinced the would-be king to wage war against the English— a bold move that proved right and eventually led to his coronation.
Canonized on May 16, 1920, Joan is the patron saint of France.
Female Warrior Saints: Maria Goretti
Before she became one of the youngest saints to be canonized, this Italian peasant girl lived in a farm together with her six siblings and their widowed mother. The Gorettis also shared their home with the Serenellis family.
One of its members, the 20-year-old Alessandro Serenellis, made numerous sexual advances towards Maria, then 11. When she refused for the nth time, he choked her at first, then stabbed her 14 times. Found by her siblings bleeding on the floor, Maria was taken to a hospital where she underwent surgery without anesthesia. Despite the ordeal that she went through, Maria forgave Alessandro. She died a day after the brutal stabbing.
The patron saint of chastity, rape victims, teenage girls, poverty, purity, and forgiveness marks her feast day every July 6. (Read: Catholic Nun on Rape Culture: ‘Stop Victim Blaming’)
Female Warrior Saints: St. Mary of Egypt
For 17 years, beginning at age 12, this Egyptian runaway performed sexual favors to men, yet curiously never accepted money for it.
A pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross proved a pivotal point in her life. Unable to enter the church no matter how hard she tried, Mary turned to the statue of the Virgin Mary and was immediately filled with regret for her life of sin. Upon asking for the Blessed Virgin’s forgiveness, she was finally able to enter the church, where she kissed the True Cross and began her life of piety and contemplation.
Patron saint of chastity, temptations of the flesh and skin disease, St. Mary of Egypt celebrates her feast day on April 1.
Female Warrior Saints: St. Agatha of Sicily
Born into nobility, the deaconess of the church who dedicated her life to God at an early age caught the eye of high-ranking official Quintianus, who desired her for himself.
But each refusal brought her punishments far worse than the last. From imprisonment in a brothel to enduring various forms of torture, Agatha took it all, proclaiming Jesus as her Savior. Even the unthinkable— having her breasts chopped off— did little to sway her devotion. As she lay in prison with no medical attention, she saw her breasts miraculously restored by St. Peter. (Read: Get to know the Life of St. Lucy, the Light Bearer Saint)
The patron saint of Sicily, breast cancer patients, rape victims, and wet nurses commemorates her feast day every February 5.