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Book review: ‘Courtship of the Saints’ by Patrick O’Hearn

Middle ranking civil servant, Catholic, 43, immaculate past, from the country, is looking for a good Catholic, pure girl  who can cook well, tackle all household chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking with a view to marriage as soon as possible.”In today’s world, of course, such an ad would be accused of being “sexist” and the man attacked viciously (verbally, at least).

Wow, this is quite an ad .   From a dating website?  No, this ad dates from the 1920’s and was placed in the German Newspaper Bild am Sonntag (BamS) by Joseph Ratzzinger, Sr. It was the second of two ads…the first being earlier with no mention of being a mid-level civil servant.  The newspaper ad was answered by a young womand named Maria, who had to postphone marriage for some time due to family considerations.  Both married late in life for those times.  As you might have already guessed, of the three children that resulted from this holy couple, one of them went on to become Pope Benedict XVI.


This book covers many courtships, from early saints in the both the old and new Testaments of the Bible (Saints Anne and Joachim, or Saints Joseph and Mary, for example) up through Emperors such as Karl of Austria and his wife Zita, who are now Blesseds, the pathway to sainthood. Some of these couples you will have heard of, and some may surprise you, since their story is not well known.  We won’t spoil it for you, but their stories are compelling as well as inspirational.

The term courtship may seem out of date today, but it still

My only criticism of the book is the title, since “courtship of the Saints” is not applicable to all those mentioned in the book.  No doubt all these couples were saintly in many ways, but not all have been given that title.  Still, that is a minor thing….the fact is, this book gives us a fascinating way in which God works to bring couples together….and on the path to sainthood.  As pointed out by the author, marriage is a form of martyrdom:  a denial of self for another.  Not easy…and perhaps it was never meant to be.

About the Author:

Patrick O’Hearn is an acquisitions editor at TAN Books. He has writen several books in addition to “Courtship of the Saints”, including ‘The Shepherd at the Crib and the Cross’.

Check out all the great TAN books here.