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On Pilgrimage with Dorothy Day View Comments
By Illustrations by Michael O'Neill McGrath, OSFS

Dorothy Day’s public presence is well-known: journalist, 20th-century reformer, cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement, antiwar and civil-rights activist. But beyond her public persona, Day (1897–1980) lived a storied private life. Through her long-running column in the Catholic Worker newspaper, aptly titled “On Pilgrimage,” and her many other works, readers traveled with Day as she embarked on a journey to awaken the social conscience of a nation. Privately, Day was also making a spiritual pilgrimage, seeking personal enlightenment as well.

The following illustrations are from Michael O’Neill McGrath’s new book, Saved by Beauty (World Library Publications). We added text to help tell the story for our readers. All images are used with permission.


Michael O’Neill McGrath, OSFS, is a painter, writer, and speaker who loves to make connections between art and faith. The illustrations in this article are included in his book Saved by Beauty: A Spiritual Journey with Dorothy Day (World Library Publications). Text for this story was written by Assistant Editor Rachel Zawila, who has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri.

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Columban: Columban was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit’s life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor. 
<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

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