In 1631 the Vatican Inquisition called her “a heretic, a schismatic, a rebel against holy Church” and had her thrown into prison. In 1951, some 320 year later, Pope Pius XII called her “that incomparable woman given…to the Church in one of the darkest, most bloodstained periods of history.” Her name, Mary Ward, is not widely recognized in the modern world. But it ought to be. She might well be the model and patron saint of every woman or man who dares in good faith to dissent on particular declarations of official Church policy. Ward’s dissent was deliberate, quite public and increasingly controversial for more than 21 years. It was also extraordinarily effective.
Essay by Robert McClory and prayer by Christine Schenk, CSJ