‘Plaster saints’ or ‘spiritual friends’?
St Thérèse of Lisieux, St Bernadette Soubirous and the Forty Martyrs
in Faith in the family
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This chapter addresses the shifting hagiographical traditions surrounding St Thérèse of Lisieux and St Bernadette Soubirous. It argues that there was a movement from the presentation of these saints as exemplary character models of obedience and sacrifice towards accounts that placed a greater premium on each saint’s historicity and personality within an explicitly psychological framework. The emphasis upon an experiential, ‘this-worldly’ spirituality increasingly present within biographies of St Thérèse, which ensured she was enduringly popular throughout the period, is contrasted with the cause for the canonisation of the forty English and Welsh martyrs. These case-studies illustrate the forms of sanctity which continued to be recognised and valued as the century progressed, and the ways in which these reconstructions could form a valuable spiritual resource for English Catholics, negotiating new demands and challenges to family life.

Faith in the family

A lived religious history of English Catholicism, 1945–82

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