Eric Metaxas, in the introduction to the chapter on Saint Maria of Paris, in the new book Seven Women and the Secrets of Their Greatness (Nelson Books).
[S]he was a poet who swam among the literary elites of St. Petersburg; then she managed her family’s award-winning wine estate on the Black Sea — and became the mayor of the town there. When the Russian Revolution made life impossible, she moved to Paris and became a nun. Finally, even as a nun she confounds our expectations: she smoked and drank. She did not live in a monastery but considered the whole world her monastery. She married twice, divorced twice, and had three children by two different men. Yet for all of this woman’s dramatically unorthodox behavior, the Orthodox Church recognizes her as a saint. Can we be blamed for being confused about this extraordinary woman?
In truth, it is precisely because of all these things that she commands our attention. Her life was messy and complicated, as most of ours are messy and complicated. By breaking every mold in which we would put her, she shows forth the beauty and the full-throated reality of the Christian life in a way that few in history have done.
Many of us are from religious traditions that do not confer sainthood, so the very notion is foreign to us. However scripture reminds us:
Col 1:12 Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.
The definition varies among denominations, but God is looking for people who live “set apart” to Him and for Him. Even in the messiness of your life, you can live as such a saint.
The seven women featured in the book are: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Mother Teresa, and Rosa Parks