Faith

Marriage and Sainthood Can Actually Go Together

These three rare and devoted couples fully demonstrated the ultimate power of love, hope and faith

It’s rare to see saints who have been married — and rarer still to see married couples as saints.

Why is that? Does marriage make life too “difficult” to achieve sainthood? Are people more likely to sin if they’re a spouse? Or perhaps with spouses and children to care for — it’s just impossible to keep Christ as the focal point of family life.

Despite the rarity of sainthood within the marriage vocation, three saintly couples proved it’s not just for the religious or celibate life.

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word.”

1.) Saints Joachim and Anne: Good and Faithful Parents. We don’t know that much about Mary’s parents. However, by knowing Mary the Mother of God, we can wager a good guess that not only must these two saints have been good and faithful servants of God — they also had to have been good parents.

Although parenting does not determine fully how a child will turn out, there is no doubt parents have the biggest influence on their children. This is why, in good faith, we can believe Mary’s parents must have taught her to have full love and devotion to God — so much so that she was able to give her entire will to Him for the sake of humanity: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word.”

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Related: The Divine Gift of One’s Whole Self in Marriage

Mary’s strength of character, and her ability to make decisions based on grace and faith, her devotion and prayer, and even her actions in motherhood point to parents who raised her as a faithful daughter of God.

As married couples and as parents, we can look to Saints Anne and Joachim as people who quietly fulfilled their obligations, who practiced their faith, and who raised a daughter who could say “yes” to God. Our goal as spouses and parents should be to do the little things that may not receive the accolades we desire — but that have a lasting influence on our loved ones. Just as these two saints fostered an environment that led to the coming of Christ, so, too, can we create a home life that puts Christ at the center.

2.) Saints Louis and Zelie Martin: Faith in God’s Plan. On Oct. 18, 2015, Pope Francis canonized Saints Louis and Zelie Martin. As the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux — and like Saints Anne and Joachim — they fostered an environment at home that resulted in sainthood.

During his homily at the Rite of Canonization Mass, Pope Francis called the holy spouses examples of a practicing Christian family: “The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azelie Guerin practiced Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love, which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.”

These two saints are perfect examples of saying yes to God’s will. Both Louis and Zelie believed they had the calling to the religious life. However, God had a different plan — to which both saints had faith and followed to the best of their ability.

Related: A Good Dad Employs Both Justice and Mercy

The Martins had nine children — who were the pinnacle of their happiness. Sadly, within three years, the couple lost five of their children in infancy. Again, the Martins showed great faith and courage in God’s plan for them, even amid anguish and sadness.

Despite the pain of losing her children, Zelie did not despair. She exemplified the Christian virtue of hope — never regretting her children and knowing in full faith that she would once again see them in heaven. This hope and faith both parents had created an environment in which little Therese, their ninth child, born in 1873 in Alencon, France, flourished and grew closer to God. She became the saint we know her as today — the “Little Flower.”

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin were the first married couple with children to be canonized together. Throughout their lives, they constantly had faith in God’s plan for them — never second-guessing, never showing despair, never showing pride.

In family life, the unknown is terrifying: job loss, financial struggles, health crises, infertility, even the loss of a child. All of these tragedies can rip a family apart. However, we can look to the examples of Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, who never lost their faith or hope during their hardships.

3.) Saints Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi: Christ at the Center. It is said that Saints Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. Every decision of these Italian natives was made with Christ at the center — they received daily Eucharist and had a faithful devotion to the Blessed Mother, praying the rosary every evening.

The couple — who married in Rome in 1905 — lived simple lives, exemplifying Christian virtue for their four children, three of whom answered the vocational call to the religious life. Those who knew the couple said that while their life was simple, it was characterized by the supernatural.

Related: Power of the Youngest Saint

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said that the Quattrocchis “made a true domestic church of their family, which was open to life, to prayer, to the social apostolate, to solidarity with the poor and to friendship.”

This is no more apparent than Maria’s decision to carry to term her last pregnancy. Doctors advised her to abort the baby to save her own life. At that time, her diagnosis gave her only a 5-percent chance of delivery and survival. However, Maria refused the abortion and instead the couple put their faith and hope in God. God responded in kind to the couple’s trust in providence — and Enrichetta was born.

Luigi and Maria took their familial duties seriously, Maria with the domestic and Luigi with provision. They truly lived out their marital vocation and exemplified the domestic church of the family. They showed us that although our own spousal and parental duties may keep us busy in the temporal world — we are answering God’s call to the marriage vocation by performing those duties to the best of our ability.

Those duties are not meaningless if we direct them toward heaven. Cooking, cleaning, providing for children and all the other tasks that get little “attention” in the world — we can do each action for the glory of God.

In so doing, we may foster an atmosphere at home in which religious vocations may flourish, as in the case of the Quattrocchis. By offering all that we have with love and devotion to God, we can follow the example the Quattrocchis have set in leading simple but virtuous lives.

Steffani Jacobs is a freelance writer based in the Twin Cities area. She has written about everything from military history and weaponry to theology and church doctrine. 

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