“It’s a terrific idea: a home-town saint for the Occupy Wall Street era.” — The New Yorker
Liberals, progressives, radicals: Take heart!
We knew it all along, but now Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan agrees. Dorothy Day is a candidate for sainthood!
NYC radical journalist Dorothy Day (1897-1980), co-founder of The Catholic Worker newspaper and a nationwide movement of “hospitality houses” serving the homeless, the hungry, and the poor, has been a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church since 2000. Now she even has the support, appropriately enough, of the archbishop of New York.
The New Yorker opines:
“Dorothy Day, a heroine of the American left and perhaps the most famous radical in the history of the American Catholic Church, led one of those remarkable lives that encompassed all the major upheavals of the twentieth century.” The full text of the excellent New Yorker essay is here.
Dorothy Day’s life story is well-known among advocates of Catholic social-justice teaching, as well as among American leftists and pacifists. I’ve read her autobiography, “The Long Loneliness,” first published by Harper & Rowe in 1952, and it’s a fascinating story. I’m downsizing my humble book collection, and was about to give the book away. But I’ll keep it for now. I want to reread it, and then pass it along for someone else to read.
Regarding sainthood, Dorothy Day herself said:
“Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.”
Daniel Berrigan, S.J., writing from his prison cell not long after her death, characterized Dorothy Day as:
“This woman pounding at the locked door behind which the powerful mock the powerless . . .”
Like Howard Zinn‘s “A People’s History of the
United States,” Day’s autobiography opens a window on parts of the American story that are often overlooked in mainstream history books. Zinn’s book covers the long story of American history from the beginning. Day’s book covers her own life in detail. In so doing, it also illuminates a specific time and place — America, and especially New York City, in the first half of the 20th century.
Either book would make an excellent Christmas gift for the history or biography reader on your gift list.
(Side note: Peter Maurin (1877-1949), a Catholic intellectual and activist, was Dorothy Day’s spiritual mentor and co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. An essay on Peter Maurin’s life and influence is here. Maurin would also make an interesting candidate for sainthood.)
— John Hayden
- Dorothy Day’s daily diary reveals a spitfire saint… (patheos.com)
- U.S. bishops endorse sainthood cause of Catholic Worker’s Dorothy Day (catholicnews.com)
- Dorothy Day on the Way to Canonization? (womenintheology.org)
- Cardinal Dolan: Dorothy Day is a symbol “for everything right about the dignity of the human person”… (nytimes.com)
- Dorothy Day House of Hospitality (bythepen.me)