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Are these 10 women among the most inspiring of the Church?

The organizers of the two-day conference in March 2024, "Women in the Church: Builders of humanity" at a press conference presenting the event

Isabella H. de Carvalho / Aleteia

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 03/01/24

From March 7 to 8 there will be a conference in Rome focusing on 10 holy women whose lives have impacted the Church and whose stories continue to inspire today.

On March 7 and 8, 2024, a group of pontifical universities and Catholic entities in Rome will come together for a conference focusing on the lives of 10 holy women of various nationalities, titled “Women in the Church: Builders of humanity.” The event aims to highlight how the lives of these female holy women — some already canonized or beatified — can be an example for women in the Church today. 

The Church, “as Pope Francis has said on several occasions, is woman not only because she is Christ’s bride, but also because she is built by holy women,” said Gabriella Gambino, undersecretary for the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, at a press conference presenting the initiative.

These 10 women, “moved by their intimate and deep relationship with Christ, have contributed their lives to the evangelization of cultures in different regions of the world, responding with boldness to the challenges of their present.”

The 10 women selected are: St. Josephine Bakhita, VenerableMagdeleine of Jesus, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Mary Mackillop, St. Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena (Laura Montoya), St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), St. Rebecca (Rafqa Ar-Rayès), Blessed Maria Corsini-Beltrame Quattrocchi, and Servant of God Daphrose Rugamba. 

Delving into the lives of these holy women

The two-day conference will be held at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and streamed online in several languages. Each panel will focus on a theme, such as education or the promotion of peace and dialogue, and how two of the holy women were “builders” in the Church in this realm.

The participants will also meet with Pope Francis on March 7, 2024, according to the program.

Each panel will include a moderator and two speakers representing a holy woman each. The discussions will revolve around three questions: who these women were, what was the center of their message and life, and what do they have to say to women and men today.

“We hope that the conference will lead to a deeper understanding, in an ecclesiological perspective, of how to make room for women’s originality to enrich the Church. The spousal and maternal vocation of women is expressed in the witness of these saints,” Gambino explained, citing also Pope Francis who has often highlighted the “Marian” principle of the Church, meaning its femininity as woman and spouse. 

“We truly believe that these women have something to say to the women of today,” said Professor Lorella Congiunti, of the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome and a member of the Scientific Committee behind the Conference.

We chose these women “with the criterion of variety, meaning that they came from different parts of the world and were expressions of different vocations.”

A call to sainthood for all

However, the organizers also highlighted that the lives of these saints can also be inspiring for men. We “never want to do a discussion on women that wants to isolate them as a category to be protected or to be opposed to men. Giving value to women goes hand in hand with giving value to men,” said Congiunti.

“The goal is precisely to show that holiness is a universal element that speaks to people of all times regardless of the era in which these women lived,” Gambino said.

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