The reason that the Church honors the saints is not just to give them glory, but to hold them up as exemplars for imitation. Many of the saints became saints themselves by reading the lives of saints. Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s by reading the Life of Christ and the Lives of the Saints. If these men can make such heroic sacrifices for God, then why can’t I, he wondered. Wonder turned into determination.
Some saints wrote biographies of other saints. Saint Athanasius wrote the Life of Saint Anthony of the Desert, a work that indirectly influenced Saint Augustine. Saint Gregory of Nyssa wrote the Life of Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus. Saint Bonaventure wrote the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Bede wrote the Life of Saint Aidan. Some saints wrote autobiographies: Saints Augustine, Thérèse of Liseux, Antonio Maria Claret, and Margaret Mary Alacoque are among them.
In a letter to her aunt, Isidore Guerin, Saint Thérèse wrote: “I love to read the lives of the saints very much. The account of their heroic deeds inflames my courage and spurs me on to imitate them.”