Venerable Mary Ward

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has announced that Mary Ward (1585-1645), the English woman who founded an order modeled directly after the Jesuits, will be declared Venerable.

See the CathAsia news story here.

See the bio of Mary at the website of the order she founded, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, here.

Like Ignatius, Mary was suspected of heresy during her lifetime. Like the Jesuits, her order was at one time suppressed. I marvel at the vision, the discernment, of women like Mary and her sisters, to persevere in the face of criticism from others in the Church. In one of her letters (“Instructions to Her Sisters at St. Omer”) she cites one of these criticisms. A Mr. Sackville observed of her order that “fervour will decay and when all is done, they are but women.” Mary’s reply is illustrative: “Fervour is a will to do well, that is, a [preceding] grace of God and a gift given freely by God, which we could not merit. It is true that fervour doth many times grow cold, but what is the cause? Is it because we are women? No, but because we are imperfect women. There is no such difference between men and women.”

(Citations from The Ignatian Tradition, eds. Kevin F. Burke and Eileen Burke-Sullivan, p. 19.)

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Tim Muldoon
Tim Muldoon is the author of a number of books, including The Ignatian Workout and Living Against the Grain, and teaches in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College.


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