Unruly Saint

Dorothy Day's Radical Vision and Its Challenge for Our Times

Unruly Saint

Dorothy Day's Radical Vision and Its Challenge for Our Times

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In 1933, in the shadow of the Great Depression, Dorothy Day started the most prominent Catholic radical movement in United States history, the Catholic Worker Movement, a storied organization with a lasting legacy of truth and justice.

Day's newspaper, houses of hospitality, and ministry of paying attention to the inequality of her world would eventually become world famous, just as she--a high-energy activist with a cigarette in one hand and a coffee cup in the other--would become a figure of promise for the poor. The ways in which Day and her fellow workers both found the love of God in and expressed it for their neighbors during a time of great social, political, economic, and spiritual upheaval would become a model of activism for decades to come.

In Unruly Saint, activist, writer, and neighbor D. L. Mayfield brings a personal lens to Day's story. In exploring the founding of the Catholic Worker movement and newspaper by revisiting the early years of Day's life, Mayfield turns her attention to what it means to be a good neighbor today.

Through a combination of biography, observations on the current American landscape, and theological reflection, this is at once an achingly relevant account and an encouraging blueprint for people of faith in tumultuous times. It will resonate with today's activists, social justice warriors, and those seeking to live in the service of others.


"Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker movement lit a prophetic fire that changed the world, and her life witness stands tall among giants. D.L. Mayfield's Unruly Saint is a gift to the world for right now."

Lisa Sharon Harper, author, and founder and president of Freedom Road

"In Unruly Saint, D.L. Mayfield shares a consequential and captivating story that I could not put down. Her style is moving, revealing, and vulnerable. I imagine Dorothy Day herself is looking down and smiling."

Randy S. Woodley, author, activist, co-sustainer at Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice

"D.L. Mayfield comes to this, her personal engagement with the life of Dorothy Day, she says, 'as a mother, a daughter, a sometimes activist, an anxious neighbor, and a very lonely and religious soul,' and her telling of Day's story is all the more impelling for it."

Brian Terrell, activist and longtime Catholic Worker

"In a time when church leaders try to remake Dorothy Day's story in light of their own wants and needs, Mayfield instead asks us to meet a flawed but holy Dorothy Day pulsing with human life. A necessary book for our time, Unruly Saint will introduce many readers to Dorothy Day and deepen many others' relationship to her."

Kaya Oakes, journalist, teacher, author of The Defiant Middle: How Women Claim Life's In-Betweens to Remake the World

"In Unruly Saint, D.L. Mayfield does more than trace the life of Dorothy Day as a social justice activist, disruptor of the status quo, and friend to the poor. Read this book to be challenged, inspired, and connected to a historic faith that can help change the world for good."

Jemar Tisby, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of The Color of Compromise and How to Fight Racism

"Unruly Saint is a book for those who have never quite known what to do with Dorothy Day, or perhaps what to do with themselves. Winsome, earnest, and disruptive, it is a delightfully provocative read."

Kristin Kobes Du Mez, historian and author of Jesus and John Wayne

"Few people have impacted the church in the twentieth century more than Dorothy Day, even though her name is still unfamiliar to many. Unruly Saint beautifully captures the spirit of Day in all its candor, grunge, and messiness. Day's message is as prophetically on point today as it was fifty years ago."

Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and cofounder of Red Letter Christians


"At once contemplative and challenging, Unruly Saint is a lantern in the dark from one lonely soul to another across time."


"Incisive and rousing, this should be required reading for social justice-minded Christians."

—Publishers Weekly

"Mayfield's readers will agree that the radical Day, unwilling to be defined by others, is just as relevant and necessary today as she was decades ago."


Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506473598
  • eBook ISBN 9781506473604
  • Dimensions 5.75 x 8.75
  • Pages 256
  • Publication Date November 8, 2022