Church leaders who knew the beauty of motherhood

Reflecting on words from Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty and St. John Paul II on mothers.

(Image: Julie Johnson |

Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty was born in Hungary in 1892. He was known for many heroic acts during his lifetime, but perhaps his most memorable statement was this:

The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. . .. The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation. . .. What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother?

His words are widely quoted as we approach Mother’s Day, and one can certainly understand why, for mothers are highly underrated in the culture and often equated with all manner of insult in the woke arena these days. But we do not need to look any further than our own mothers to see the wonder, the beauty, and the elegance that are all wrapped into one loving person.

Like the Virgin Mary, mothers sacrifice much for their children, giving unselfishly of their time, talent, and most of all love. My own mother was a wellspring of inspiration, even as my sisters and I travelled with her to her daily medical treatments for debilitating arthritis. Her smile was always there, her gentle spirit was always present, and her unfailing faith was inspiring to each of us.

When I read these words written by Saint John Paul II, I know that he too had a loving mother, and I am sure her influence moved his heart to write:

Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.

This pope dedicated his papacy to the Blessed Mother, and when one reads his words about mothers, we can see that he is not speaking in the abstract but to you and me and all those who are mothers, not to mention those who aspire to be mothers. In Mulieris Dignitatem, one of his most touching writings on the dignity of women, Pope John Paul II wrote:

By defending the dignity of women and their vocation, the Church has shown honor and gratitude for those women who—faithful to the Gospel—have shared in every age in the apostolic mission of the whole People of God. They are the holy martyrs, virgins, and mothers of families, who bravely bore witness to their faith and passed on the Church’s faith and tradition by bringing up their children in the spirit of the Gospel.

If it were not for motherhood, there would be no heroic women in any of the roles delineated by the pope, and there would be no saints. In fact, we should ask, Where would we be without mothers? All we have to do is think of Eve, the mother of the human race, for that answer.

In honor of my beloved, departed Irish husband, Paul, I offer this Irish Blessing for mothers everywhere:

There is but one and only one,
Whose love will fail you never.
One who lives from sun to sun,
With constant fond endeavor.
There is but one and only one
On earth there is no other.
In heaven a noble work was done
When God gave us a Mother.

And so we honor and give thanks for mothers on Mother’s Day, which, in my humble opinion, should be every day.

— Judie Brown (Mother of three, grandmother of 13)

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About Judie Brown 3 Articles
Judie Brown is president and co-founder of American Life League, the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life education organization in the United States. She served three five-year terms (1996-2011) as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life in Rome and has written 12 books, including The Broken Path: How Catholic Bishops Got Lost in the Weeds of American Politics (2011) and Saving Those Damned Catholics: A Defense of Catholic Teaching (2007). Judie’s editorials have been featured in many top media outlets, including The Washington Post and USA Today, and she has appeared on hundreds of broadcasts, including 20/20, 60 Minutes, Mother Angelica Live, The O’Reilly Factor, Good Morning America, Today, Oprah, Larry King Live, and EWTN.


  1. Mothers – they are the pillars of Planet Earth, our common home. May each mother enjoy respect and happiness worldwide. God bless.

  2. Ma, mamma. Words I heard from infants in the African ‘bush’ far from commerce centers and the formally educated. Later in Europe, as if natural to the infant at breast. Why? The phenomenon is noticed by others.
    Always philosophical, searching, my sense is that it God’s way of revealing to us our common nature in him. What can be a more innocent, pure evocation. An appeal. Even if a mother should forget you I will not (Is 49:15). God chooses a mother’s love as the ultimate test of his unsurpassable love for us.

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