"The only tragedy is not to be a saint", wrote the French novelist Léon Bloy. And St. Francis de Sales said that "A sad saint would be a sorry saint." But what is a saint? One way to answer is to analyze sanctity, theologically and psychologically. Another way, which is the path Frank Sheed chose in creating this volume, is to show you a saint-or rather, since no two saints are alike-to show you a number of saints. In this book, you are shown forty saints.
The saints Sheed chose for this collection are from various time periods: six before A.D. 500, seventeen from then to the Reformation, and seventeen from the Reformation to the middle of the twentieth century. Many are well known, like St. Anthony, Francis, Augustine, Patrick and Bernadette, while others are lesser known, for example, Columcille and Malachy.
The same can be said for the various authors of these short biographies. Among them are the famous like Hilaire Belloc, Alban Goodier and G.K. Chesterton, as well as priests and laymen whose names may no longer be familiar but whose writing still brings to life men and women whose closeness to God gave them purpose, strength, and yes, joy.
Frank Sheed and his wife, Maise Ward, founded the well-known London publishing house Sheed and Ward in 1926. Together they published some of the finest Catholic literature of the first half of the twentieth century. Known for his sharp mind and clarity of expression, Sheed became a famous Catholic apologist, writing several books including Theology and Sanity, A Map of Life, and To Know Christ Jesus.