In her essay “The Church and the Fiction Writer”, Flannery O’Connor expressed disgust at the pious cliches which then masqueraded as Catholic literature during the 1950’s. Rather than take joy in fully formed characters with mixed flaws and virtues, Catholic readers preferred the simplistic, the sentimental, and the shallow. This problem is not only confined to Catholic fiction.
Catholic nonfiction, especially Saint’s biographies, are often plagued by the same set of problems. Rather than depict a flawed and complex person who became a Saint, Catholic “biographers” will serve up a plaster statue who seems unapproachable, uninspiring, and even outright unbelievable. Real people are, as a rule, far more interesting.
For this reason, it was with great pleasure that I learned that the new English translation of Irina Osipova’s book “Brides of Christ, Martyrs for Russia” has been made available for purchase on Amazon. Describing a community of Byzantine Catholic nuns who offered themselves up for the Salvation of Russia in August 1917, this book is composed of the Nuns’ memoirs of the Gulag, letters, KGB archival documents about their arrests and interrogations, and interviews with those who knew the surviving sisters in their old age. All in all, it reveals the human face of sanctity in a way that is often sorely lacking in other Catholic biographies. As two members of the Community, Mother Catherine Abrikosova and Sr. Rosa of the Heart of Mary, are now being investigated for possible Canonization, the value of this book cannot be underestimated. Therefore, “Brides of Christ, Martyrs for Russia” is strongly recommended to all readers who ware moved by stories of Faith and Martyrdom. To the all the Catholic Martyrs and Confessors under the Bolshevik Yoke, Let Their Memory Be Eternal!