Kathleen Sprows CummingsDec 17, 2022
A Saint of Our Own
How the Quest for a Holy Hero Helped Catholics Become American
University of North Carolina Press 2021
In A Saint of Our Own: How the Quest for a Holy Hero Helped Catholics Become American (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), Kathleen Sprows Cummings asks what drove U.S. Catholics in their arduous quest for an American saint? A home-grown saint, she argues, would serve as a mediator between Catholicism and American culture. Throughout much of U.S. history, the making of a saint was about the ways in which the members of a minority religious group defined, defended, and celebrated their identities as Americans.
Their fascinatingly diverse causes for canonization—from Kateri Tekakwitha and Elizabeth Ann Seton to many others that are failed, forgotten, or still under way—represented evolving national values as Catholics made themselves at home. Cummings’s vision of American sanctity shows just how much Catholics had at stake in cultivating devotion to men and women perched at the nexus of holiness and American history—until they finally felt little need to prove that they belonged.
A Saint of Our Own won first place in the 2020 Catholic Press Association Book Award in the Gender Issues/Inclusion in the Church Category, and second place in the 2020 Catholic Press Association Book Award in the History Category.
Lauren Horn Griffin is assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Louisiana State University. She researches religion, media, and technology with a focus on Catholic communities around the world.