You might be surprised by some of the names on the list!
Even saints of the moral stature of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, admired by believers and non-believers alike, bear witness to having suffered trials that seem surprising, maybe even shocking. To anyone who thinks the saints lived in a bubble of perfection, removed from the daily circumstances that affect “ordinary” human beings, there’s this: the “dark night of the soul.”
The most famous treatise on the subject is probably written by Spanish mystic and Doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross. He describes that profound kind of spiritual crisis on the road towards a union with God in his famous poem from the 16th century titled “The Dark Night of the Soul.”
The fact is, with certain frequency God allows an intense trial of spiritual aridity, of complete lack of sensible fervor, of doubts regarding His existence, of outrage at the injustices of life, of despair in the face of tragedy, or desperation with the routine which, day after day, month after month, takes on an insufferable and amorphous lack of meaning…
If Christ Himself experienced the drama of the silence of the Father during the darkest of nights, to the point of begging His Father to take that chalice away from Him during His prayer in the Garden of Olives in preparation for the Passion, why should we assume that God would spare us from experiencing radical doubt? Why should we imagine that he would deny us the opportunity of choosing, freely and voluntarily, to embrace the faith or reject it, to trust in Him or reject Him, to purify our love or keep it tepid, fragile, compromised by comfort or by weak incentives?
Not even the vocation to the religious life exempts a Christian from spiritual trials.
It’s clear that these trials aren’t always the physical and psychological suffering that today we know as depression. Nonetheless, there are saints who, based on the symptoms they themselves or their biographers describe, very probably faced this syndrome, which today is seen as “the disease of the century.”
Here are some of the saints who may have suffered some degree of depression during their earthly lives …