The word saint conjures up images of superstar Christians revered for their spectacular acts and otherworldly piety. But when we take a closer look at the lives of these spiritual heavyweights, we learn that they also experienced struggle, doubt, and heartache. In fact, we learn that in many ways they’re not all that different from you and me. 

Narrating her own winding pilgrimage through faith, Karen Marsh reveals surprising lessons in everyday spirituality from these "saints"―folks who lived and breathed, and failed and followed God.

Told with humor and vulnerability, Vintage Saints and Sinners introduces us afresh to twenty-five brothers and sisters who challenge and inspire us with their honest faith.

Join Karen on her journey with the likes of Augustine, Brother Lawrence, and Saint Francis, as well as Amanda Berry Smith, Søren Kierkegaard, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Flannery O’Connor, and many more. Let their lives and their wisdom be an invitation to authentic life in Christ.


“In our postmodern age, it’s all the more important that Christians cultivate ancient friendships, apprenticing with broken and beautiful saints who’ve preceded us. Their lives of devotion, service, and sacrifice help us to reimagine our own. In this wise, humble, passionate book, Karen Marsh invites you to meet the ancient friends who have nourished her faith. It’s a joyful, honest journey that will make you want to join this pilgrimage for yourself.”
James K. A. Smith, Calvin College, author of You Are What You Love


Table of Contents



  • Foreword by Lauren Winner

  • Introduction: Notes from the Crossroads

Part 1: Asking

  • Søren Kierkegaard: Take a Long Walk

  • Augustine: Reconsider Sainthood

  • Thérèse of Lisieux: Take the Little Way

  • C. S. Lewis: Wake up to Joy

  • Henri Nouwen: Be the Beloved

  • Flannery O'Connor: Get Down Under Things

  • Martin Luther: You Shall Not Die but Live!

  • Amanda Berry Smith: Lean in, Lean On

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Live Unreservedly, Grounded in God

  • Mother Teresa: Stay Faithful (Anyway)

  • A. W. Tozer: Pursue True Blessedness

  • Brother Lawrence: Practice the Presence

Part 2: Walking

  • Thomas Merton: Be a Real Christian

  • Benedict and Scholastica: Choose the Good Life

  • John Wesley: Quit the Holy Club

  • Francis and Clare of Assisi: WWJD?

  • Dorothy Day: Make Some Trouble

  • Howard Thurman: Make a Swinging Door

  • Julian of Norwich: Rest in God?s Goodness

  • Mary Paik Lee: Taste the Bittersweet

  • Aelred of Rievaulx: Find Yourself a Soul Friend

  • Fannie Lou Hamer: Stand Up, Sing Out!

  • Ignatius of Loyola: Get Practical

  • Juana Ines de la Cruz: Take Delight in God's Beauty—Within You

  • Sophie Scholl: Knock a Chip out of the Wall


  • Conclusion: Resting

  • Acknowledgments

  • In Their Own Words: Further Reading

  • Conversation Starters

  • Notes