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The Patron Saint of Housewives

  Alumni Profile  

When New York Times best-selling inspirational author and columnist Marjorie Rose Holmes ’31, who was often called “the patron saint of housewives,” died on March 13, 2002, at the age of 91 she had penned 32 books with 20 million copies in print.

Her books included a fictional trilogy of the life of Mary and Joseph, with the first book, Two from Galilee, becoming one of the 10 bestselling novels of 1972. The New York Times once wrote that Holmes created “whole books of prayers that sell like sin.”

Over the years, Holmes contributed articles to many national publications including McCall’s, Reader’s Digest, and Ladies’ Home Journal. She also wrote columns for the Washington Evening Star and Woman’s Day and was a contributing editor for Guideposts. In 1963, Cornell bestowed the Alumni Achievement Award upon her, and in 1998 the college awarded her an honorary degree.

Holmes was born in Storm Lake, Iowa, where she spent two years at Buena Vista College before enrolling at Cornell, primarily because of the literary magazine, “The Husk,” edited by Toppy Tull. With his assistance, she began to sell her poems, the first to pulp magazine Weird Tales for $7.

She went on to write short stories, essays, and poems and even worked in radio. After her first husband, Lynn Mighell, died of cancer in 1979, she wrote To Help You Through the Hurting about handling grief. George Schmieler, a reader who found comfort in that book after his wife’s death, contacted Holmes and the two were later married.

Holmes also taught writing and frequently lectured at the University of Maryland, Catholic University, and Georgetown University.

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