Read more:4 Saints of impossible causes, and prayers to them Venerable Cornelia Connelly (1809-1879) was married to an Episcopal priest when the two decided to convert to Catholicism. Not long after the couple’s infant daughter and toddler son died, Pierce announced that he would be separating from his pregnant wife to pursue ordination. Feeling she had no choice, Cornelia took a vow of chastity, sending their children to boarding school. She later founded a religious order and sought joy in the midst of her very broken life. Then Pierce reappeared and demanded that she return to him. When Cornelia refused, he sued her for conjugal rights; after losing on appeal, Pierce kidnapped Cornelia’s children and turned them against her and the Church. She was ultimately reconciled with only one. Asked once why she wasn’t miserable, Cornelia replied with a smile, “Ah, my child, the tears are always running down the back of my nose.” Cornelia grieved her suffering deeply but chose to live in the joy of the risen Christ. St. Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878) was the 13th child born to her Palestinian parents and the first to survive. Orphaned at two, Mariam later moved to Egypt with her guardians, an uncle and his wife. She was betrothed at 13, but when she explained her call to religious life her uncle beat her severely. When she sought help, the messenger she employed attempted to seduce her and coerce her to convert to Islam, cutting her throat and throwing her in an alley when she refused. Mariam was miraculously cared for by a mysterious “nun dressed in blue,” worked as a domestic servant, was inexplicably blind for 40 days, entered a religious community, received the stigmata, was kicked out of that community, entered a Carmel in India, founded a Carmel in Bethlehem, had a mystical vision that identified the site of Emmaus, and died—all before turning 33. Bl. Paul Thoj Xyooj (1941-1960, pronounced Tao Shiong) was a Hmong convert, a former seminarian, and a tremendously successful missionary to a Hmong village in Laos when the religious in charge of the mission became suspicious of this teenaged boy who was making so many converts. Certain that he must be watering down the faith or engaging in untoward behavior, they pulled him from the mission field, forbidding him even from contacting the young woman he had hoped to propose to. Back at home, he felt lost; he had been betrayed by leaders of the Church he had given his life to and wasn’t sure that he could continue to work as a catechist. Perhaps he would get a job as a police officer, the better to support the family he hoped to start if he could ever find another woman he wanted to marry. In the midst of this frustration, betrayal, and uncertainty came an invitation from Bl. Mario Borzaga to join him on another mission. Xyooj went and was killed by communist insurgents when he refused to abandon Fr. Borzaga.