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Imitating the Saints: Where Do I Start?

‘7 Saints for 7 Virtues’ Provides Guidebook for Beginners or Those More Advanced


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Pope Francis on Sunday, the Solemnity of All Saints, spoke about the common vocation to holiness, rooted in our baptism. He said the saints are examples to imitate, both those who are canonized and those he referred to as “next door” saints — those we interact with in our daily lives.

A book by Jean M. Heimann makes imitating the saints seem a bit more feasible.

“Seven Saints for Seven Virtues” profiles seven popular saints and associates them with a specific virtue. Heimann considers what the virtue is, how the saint was a model of it, and then gives some down-home examples of how the virtue might look in daily life. Each section finishes with an examen about how the virtue might be put into action and a prayer.

This user-friendly set-up makes the book a great resource for those beginning the spiritual life, or those who have been working for a (long) while at trying to become one of the “next door” saints the Pope speaks of.

In the context of All Saints Day, ZENIT asked Heimann to tell us a bit more about her book:

ZENIT: How and why did you choose these seven saints?

Heimann: Before I began Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, I prayed about which saints I should write about and the Holy Spirit guided me in their selection. I also have a personal relationship with the saints I write about in the book, that is, I communicate with them on a regular basis in my daily prayers and ask them to intercede in specific situations. These particular saints possess the seven heavenly virtues that are in opposition to the seven deadly sins, which I discuss in the book.  They are, in fact, heroic models of the virtues. 

The saints and their corresponding virtues include: Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta – charity; St. Agnes—chastity; St. Pope John Paul II—diligence; St. Joseph—humility; St. Catherine of Siena—kindness; St. Monica—patience; St. Augustine—temperance.

ZENIT: How does devotion to the saints play a role in your own faith life?

Heimann: As a young child of seven, I grew up learning about the saints from my mom’s Lives of the Saints book, which was beautifully illustrated with full-color portraits of each saint. They were very special beings to me – more beautiful than royalty and more gifted than superheroes. I eagerly learned why they were so special and exactly what their gifts were; however, it wasn’t until I returned to my faith, after a 15-year absence, that I discovered the real power that the saints possess, and that is the gift of drawing us closer to the heart of Jesus. 

They inspired me to seek holiness in my life and to emulate their virtues to draw closer to Jesus. They are companions on my spiritual journey who cheer me on to fight the good fight and to persevere to win the race. I hope to meet them all face to face one day.

I pray a daily Litany to the Saints and pray for their intercession in specific needs I have or for those of others. As a prayer intercessor, I have witnessed the intercessory power of the saints, our dear friends in heaven, who support us here on earth.

ZENIT: Do you have a particular devotion to a particular saint?

Heimann: One saint who has become a close friend and powerful intercessor for me over the years is St. Therese of Lisieux, who advocated the “Little Way” of performing small tasks with great love as the way to show her love for God and to become holy. St. Therese’s “Little Way” of loving God was impressed upon my heart as a teenager (her autobiography was required reading my sophomore year in high school) and later, as an adult, when I wrote the thesis for my Master of Arts degree in Theology as a graduate student at Newman University two years ago. St. Therese of Lisieux helped me with my thesis and she also performed small miracles for me, such as healing a friend with a cancerous tumor. She has also inspired and assisted me in writing my book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, and getting it published by a major Catholic publishing company. 

I had been praying a novena to her that if it was God’s will for me to get this book published, to open the doors. I had written two books previously and even though they were praised and publication looked promising, they were eventually rejected by publishers. After 10 years of pitching books at online conferences and attending one live conference, in January 2014, my proposal for Seven Saints for Seven Virtues was approved for publication by Servant Books, thanks to St. Therese of Lisieux.

While St. Therese of Lisieux is not featured in this book, I write about her in my upcoming book, Learning to Love with the Saints, which is scheduled to be released in spring 2016.

Jean M. Heimann, M.A. in Theology, is a freelance writer, a psychologist and an educator, a parish presenter and diocesan speaker, and an oblate with the Community of St. John. She has been an active blogger for 12 years at Catholic Fire (

Seven Saints for Seven Virtues:

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Kathleen Naab

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