Today is November 8th, and 115 years ago on this day, Dorothy Day was born in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Journalist turned social-activist, she also worked as a novelist (selling the film rights to her novel The Eleventh Virgin), and dabbled in screen-writing. In her youth she worked on a variety of Left-wing newspapers, never quite becoming a Communist. Her circle of colourful friends included Eugene O’Neill and leading anarchist Emma Goldman, who encouraged her to experiment with free love.
sacrifice came in 1928. Immediately after she baptised her daughter
Tamar, the baby’s father, Forster Batterham, left her. She refused to
renounce the faith, which had given her solace during psychological
problems caused by an abortion.
In 1932 Day met the charismatic
Frenchman Peter Maurin. Together they founded the Catholic Workers’
Movement when the Great Depression raged. Day and Maurin set up urban
houses of hospitality for the homeless and communal farms to grow food.
Soup kitchens were founded where the hungry were addressed as “Sir”.
Day knew financial hardship, but put unpaid bills under the statue of St Joseph, and somehow she always pulled through.
divided her time between writing for their newspaper, the Catholic
Worker, publishing books, protesting against injustices and ministering
to the poor.
Since Day’s death in 1980 the movement has had no leader, but there are now over 200 communities.
The 1996 film of her life, Entertaining Angels, is an ambitious theatrical portrait of Dorothy Day, and gives a historical account of Day's determination to feed the hungry and clothe the naked during the Great Depression following the financial collapse of 1929. At the time, Day only had 97 cents to her name! Moira Kelly plays the lead, and truly embodies Day's irrepressible ideals of helping the poorest and loneliest, no matter how desperate the circumstances. But it has irritated Day followers that Kelly performs as though she is imitating Dorothy Day, using too much emotion for such a resilient figure as Day (and in a voice a few octaves too high). Also, Kelly has a very soft, oval face - while Day had a strong jaw an a defiantly angular chin, that pointed the way forward. But then, let's not be too hard on Kelly. Who really could have acted the part of Dorothy Day? No one. She was a one-off.