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2 Inspiring biographies that can change your marriage


Bernadette Chovelon | Ignatius Press

Cecilia Pigg - published on 05/18/21

Put these books on your summer reading list if your relationship could use some transformation.

Do you need to hear about couples who stayed together through very difficult struggles? Would you like some summer reading that has depth and talks about the meaning of life and love, but is not difficult to read?

I’ve got you covered with two recommendations.

These two beautiful and engaging books show the tremendous faith and perseverance of two different married couples — Chiara and Enrico and Felix and Elisabeth. There is so much to learn from how these very different people came together and loved each other despite the other’s weakness and failings, and despite the sometimes relentless suffering that came into their lives.

In Salt and Light,a couple overcomes chronic illness, infertility, and two very different religious beliefs to create a fruitful and faithful union that lasted almost two and a half decades.

This French couple — Felix and Elizabeth Leseur — who lived from the late 1800s into the 1900s, never saw eye-to-eye on faith during their marriage. Elisabeth was a devout Catholic and Felix was a former Catholic turned strong atheist. Each tried to convert the other to their way of thinking in various ways throughout their life together, until Elisabeth’s death from breast cancer in 1914.

On top of this, very early in their marriage, Elisabeth started suffering from a condition that would cause her daily pain and leave her confined to bed for months at a time throughout the rest of her life. It also prevented Elisabeth and Felix from conceiving children, a fact that caused them both much sadness.

Throughout their immense physical and spiritual suffering, each loved and sacrificed for the other in countless ways. Elisabeth quietly offered her pain for Felix and his conversion, while he did everything possible to make her comfortable and in good spirits despite her long stretches of illness.

This biography gives a vibrant and intriguing glimpse into what life was like in France at the time, while eloquently showing the strength and power of Felix and Elisabeth’s relationship.

In Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy, a couple overcomes the loss of two children and a cancer diagnosis while becoming beacons of light to the people around them. Chiara and Enrico Petrillo were only married for four years from 2008-2012 (after dating on and off for six years). An immense amount of suffering, heartache, and change marked those short four years of married life.

Their first child, Maria, died one hour after birth, and their second child, Davide, died 38 minutes after birth. While pregnant with their third child, Francesco, Chiara received a cancer diagnosis. She and her husband chose to wait to operate on the cancer so that Francesco could make it as close to full term as possible.

Chiara lived for the first year of his life, undergoing treatments for her cancer that left her very weak and in constant pain. A couple of months after Francesco’s first birthday, she died. Enrico and Chiara’s close friends, also a married couple, wrote this biography, and their love and knowledge of the couple bring their story to life. Their story shows how rooting your marriage in God and His grace allows for tremendous healing and an incredible richness of love, despite how flawed each of you are on your own.   

Whichever story grabs your attention most, start there. Then grab the other. Try your local library’s interlibrary loan system to see if you can read them inexpensively that way.

Happy reading!  

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