The Forgotten Desert Mothers: The Sayings, Lives and Stories of Early Christian Women/ History of North American Benedictine Women, a Bibliography

Article excerpt

Laura Swan. The Forgotten Desert Mothers: the Sayings, Lives and Stories of Early Christian Women (New York: Paulist Press, 2000) 218 pages, $13.95, ISBN 0-8091-4016-0.

Laura Swan. History of North American Benedictine Women, a Bibliography (San Jose: Writers Club Press, 2001) 116 pages, paper $12.95, ISBN 0-595-19616-0.

Sister Laura Swan, OSB, is well known to readers of Magistra for her many helpful book reviews. In the past year, she has also produced two very different, and very useful, works. The Forgotten Desert Mothers is just what its subtitle promises. Using a variety of different sources, the author has gathered a broad range of information. Biographies, histories and collections of observations from the period are used to tell the stories of some well-known figures and some lesser known ones as well.

For the women's teachings, she has drawn from the ancient books of apothegmata, but she has also included commentaries of her own which elucidate the sayings and apply their wisdom to contemporary life. In another section, she uses material harvested from various literary sources to give short biographical sketches of some obscure figures.

She also uses primary sources to give a summary of the complicated question of deaconesses and what can be known about them from historical records. …