Please note: I received a copy of Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue in exchange for an honest review. If you decide to purchase it I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
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Catholicism & Pop Culture
If you know me, you know that I’m a comic book reader, a fan of shows like Dr. Who, and an attendee at steampunk and Comic-Con events. I even made my nieces and nephews their own superhero caps for Christmas last year. When I learned about the Super Girls and Halos book, I was really excited.
This awesome book by Maria Morera Johnson compares the lives of the Saints to the heroes we see in pop culture. She looks at the cardinal virtues: justice, prudence, fortitude, temperance and how these virtues have shaped the journeys of each heroine, whether saint or fictional.
When I was young, I would stay up late to read the stories of the saints. I was inspired by the saint’s stories because they had some of the most extraordinary lives I’d ever read about. These were real people who lived during different periods of time and faced unimaginable circumstances while living a life dedicated to God, not just stories. The saints sparked my own faith journey when I realized how much I wanted to become a saint myself.
Each of the saints I learned about, from the more well-known St. Teresa of Avila to the lesser-known St. Genevieve (my confirmation saint), followed their unique call to holiness and became a woman I looked up to. They influenced my faith journey by teaching me about the virtues needed to live a life centered on God.
Super Girls and Halos
The Saints were my first superheroes, but I found the heroines on TV to be compelling as well. My favorite movie character, Belle, certainly made an impression on me when she traded places with her father and found the good in the Beast.
I really enjoy how Maria re-tells each saint or superhero’s story, focusing on a virtue they particularly emulated. The strength of the book is that Maria sticks to a simple formula. She uses the virtue to draw a parallel between the life of the saint and the life of the fictional character. Although the saints and fictional heroines she talks about possessed many virtues, focusing on just one allows her to showcase their crowning virtue and their similarities.
After reading the book and answering the questions at the end of each chapter, you’ll have a better idea of who your own Saint SuperGirl is. I’ll tell you who my Saint SuperGirl is…
My Saint SuperGirl – St. Gianna Beretta Molla
I learned about St. Gianna when I was in college. Each week our household had a saint night where we would take turns sharing the life of a saint. After learning about the saint we would come up with a challenge for the next week based on that saint’s life.
That’s when I learned about St. Gianna and was left in awe of her faith and fortitude. Since part of our household’s charism was to follow the lives of the saints on to the foot of the cross, her image lines the wall our household’s room at Franciscan. St. Gianna inspired me to be dedicated to my studies during college and to serve others.
Gianna was a loving wife, an Italian physician and a mother of three. She dedicated her life to using helping those in need, including the elderly and the poor, using her skill as a doctor. She herself had complications with her pregnancy and decided to sacrifice her own life rather than allow her child to die.
According to Maria, “Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.” St. Gianna is a perfect example of growing in virtue each day and making the sometimes hard choice for the good.
Now that I’m pregnant, St. Gianna’s heroic sacrifice is even more at the forefront of my mind. Her quote, “whatever God wants,” reminds me to surrender to God’s will daily. I’m sure that it was her daily ‘yes’ to God that led her to give her life for her daughter. I hope that I too can daily surrender my will in the little things like she did. She inspires me now to be a mother who is dedicated to my vocation and to use the knowledge I’ve gained in my education to serve others.
St. Gianna’s life gives me hope—hope in knowing there was a modern-day woman who spent her life serving God, learning about science and medicine, loving her husband and children, and following Christ to the end of her life. I know that her example has helped me to work on the virtue of fortitude and to remain dedicated in hard circumstances.
The fictional superhero I would compare to St. Gianna is Supergirl a.k.a. Kara Zor-El/Danvers. She always strives to pursue the good and is willing to put her life on the line when she faces creatures of insurmountable strength and ability. Time and time again she tries to pursue the good even when her powers have been weakened and all the odds seem against her.
Fortitude describes both Supergirl and St. Gianna. Supergirl is firm in hard situations. Even when a recent villain attacked her mentally by triggering past trauma, she found it within herself to keep fighting for everyone else’s safety. Even when she’s not wearing a cape she seeks the good at her day job as a journalist, telling the truth even though it almost cost her job in one case.
If you want to learn about more fictional superheroes and saints, then I’d definitely recommend reading Maria’s book Super Girls and Halos. Click below to follow along with the blog series.