The Saint Makers

Inside the Catholic Church and How a War Hero Inspired a Journey of Faith


By Joe Drape

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Part biography of a wartime adventurer, part detective story, and part faith journey, this intriguing book from a New York Times journalist and bestselling author takes us inside the modern-day making of a saint.

The Saint Makers chronicles the unlikely alliance between Father Hotze and Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, a country priest and a cosmopolitan Italian canon lawyer, as the two piece together the life of a long dead Korean War hero and military chaplain and fashion it into a case for eternal divinity. Joe Drape offers a front row seat to the Catholic Church's saint-making machinery—which, in many ways, has changed little in two thousand years-and examines how, or if, faith and science can co-exist.

This rich and unique narrative leads from the plains of Kansas to the opulent halls of the Vatican, through brutal Korean War prison camps, and into the stories of two individuals, Avery Gerleman and Chase Kear, whose lives were threatened by illness and injury and whose family and friends prayed to Father Kapaun, sparking miraculous recoveries in the heart of America. Gerleman is now a nurse, and Kear works as a mechanic in the aerospace industry. Both remain devoted to Father Kapaun, whose opportunity for sainthood relies in their belief and medical charts. At a time when the church has faced severe scandal and damage, and the world is at the mercy of a pandemic, this is an uplifting story about a priest who continues to an example of goodness and faith.

Ultimately, The Saint Makers is the story of a journey of faith—for two priests separated by seventy years, for the two young athletes who were miraculously brought back to life with (or without) the intercession of the divine, as well as for readers—and the author—trying to understand and accept what makes a person truly worthy of the Congregation of Saints in the eyes of the Catholic Church.


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It took a three-by-three-by-three-foot wooden crate crammed with 8,268 pages of documents to launch this pilgrimage from Wichita, Kansas, to Rome, Italy, and—with patience—hopefully, the Gates of Heaven. Inside was the life's work of two priests separated by fifty-seven years. Father John Hotze signed the FedEx bill, then watched as the three-hundred-pound crate was scooted onto a dolly.

He then watched his scholarship roll out the door.

It was July 2, 2011, and inside that crate was the remarkable life of Father Emil Kapaun. In the previous dozen years, Father Hotze had unearthed every letter the military chaplain and war hero had written to his family and friends back in Kansas. He had unearthed copies of the sermons Father Kapaun had given from pulpits in farm parishes as well as theaters of war. Father Hotze had the notebooks Kapaun had filled while studying to become a Catholic priest in the 1930s. Then there was the testimony of more than a hundred witnesses, from Korea to Kansas, recounting the heroics Father Kapaun had performed on the battlefield and in a prisoner-of-war camp.

But Father Hotze asked himself for the gazillionth time, Was it enough?

Father Hotze, fifty-one, was a homegrown and beefy Kansan who was more comfortable in dungarees and a work shirt than the priestly uniform of black that he was sweating through on this June morning, a day that had transformed south central Kansas into a broiler. On his drive in to the office of the Diocese of Wichita that morning, he had seen the combines vibrating in the heat as the farmers hustled to bring the wheat in before a sudden thunderstorm could render a year's work, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment, into drowned stalks barely worth the pennies on the insurance claim they would have to file.

Like the farmers, Father Hotze was worried about the fruits of his own harvest—the materials sown and reaped into those boxes were off to the Vatican where the contents would be measured by the most divine of standards. The life and times of Father Emil Kapaun were about to be reviewed and challenged, picked apart, and prayed over by layers of canon lawyers, Catholic cardinals, and, ultimately, the pope himself.

Father Kapaun's arc from a farm boy educated in a one-room schoolhouse during the Depression to the most decorated chaplain in military history was compelling. His battlefield exploits were the stuff of adventure novels: He dodged the bullets of Chinese soldiers to rescue wounded Americans. He put them on his shoulders and carried them for days over frozen snow in subzero temperatures. In a North Korean prisoner-of-war camp, Father Kapaun kept hundreds of his fellow soldiers alive, and instilled the will to live in thousands more, by stealing food for their shriveled bodies and saying Mass and ministering to their crushed souls. When his captors decided they had had enough of the defiant priest, they removed him from the group. As he was carried away by stretcher—starved, sick, and unable to stand—to die alone in a fetid Death House, his fellow prisoners wept. They were Catholics and Christians, Jews and Muslims all touched deeply by this remarkable priest. Father Kapaun astonished them once more when he forgave his tormentors before them and asked them to forgive him.

What hung in the balance was a question far beyond this earth: Did this simple Kansas priest who died a horrible death in a North Korean prison camp at the age of thirty-five really belong in the Congregation of Saints? Father Hotze understood this was a pass-or-fail test. He may have looked like he should be baling hay, but Father Hotze possessed a disciplined mind that rivaled his unshakable faith.

Both priests had been forged by indecision and doubt.

Growing up in Kansas, John Hotze was a fine student and decent athlete but one who was forever adrift. He earned a business degree from Wichita State, and had done well enough to be accepted into the university's business school to pursue a master's. He cruised through his first year of studies but struggled in his second year to find motivation. Hotze detested sitting in a classroom and, after three straight semesters of enrolling in classes that he subsequently dropped after a few weeks, set out to find himself. Where? At first it didn't matter. His brother Bill was an army sergeant stationed in Germany, which was reason enough for Hotze to spend some time there and traveling through Europe.

There were more weeks spent crossing Canada by train—camping and couch surfing. When his money ran out and his curiosity needed recharging, Hotze returned to Wichita to work for his sister Mary, who had a successful business creating retail and holiday displays. They called themselves high-tack engineers and spent their days outfitting mannequins in air-conditioned malls. It earned him plenty of walking-around money, but Hotze had this nagging feeling that God had something more planned for him.

The Hotzes had faith and were practicing Catholics, but were by no means fanatics. They went to Mass as a family on Sundays and abstained from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during the Lenten season, but otherwise offered no display of public devoutness.

In their community south of Wichita, humility and discretion were the fabric that bound neighbors together. All John Hotze knew about religious vocations was what he had heard one Sunday each year when a diocesan priest took the pulpit at his parish to recruit more clergy.

Did Hotze feel a calling from God? Did he possess a vocation? He had no idea.

The Lord hadn't dumped him off a tractor and told him to change his ways as he had knocked Saul off his horse on his way to Damascus and told him to become Saint Paul. Hotze also did not know if poverty, obedience, and celibacy were the right paths to finding his true self. There wasn't anything attractive about it.

But he was twenty-eight and lost. Entering Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, did not seem like the dumbest idea in the world. He figured either it would last only a few weeks before he tired of yet another school or God would tell him what do.

Five years later, in 1993, John Hotze was ordained. His first assignment was at All Saints Parish in Wichita, the same church he grew up in and where the Hotze family spent their Sundays. He was at home for two years before being reassigned to St. John Nepomucene in Pilsen, Kansas, where Father Kapaun had not only grown up but had also once been the pastor. Father Hotze had heard the stories of Father Kapaun's virtue and valor—most people in these parts of Kansas had. Hotze's mother had kept a prayer card tucked in a corner of the bathroom mirror depicting Father Kapaun, and the family asked often for his help when a crisis was upon them.

Father Hotze had prayed to Father Kapaun often while in university and seminary, asking him to intercede when he grew bored and restless and wanted to drop out. Father Hotze had not only finally finished what he started, but now he also had a flock who looked to him for guidance. His superiors in the chancery—the home office—soon recognized that Father Hotze might have more to offer the diocese. He was a bright guy with a burning curiosity as well as a nice touch with ordinary people. Father Hotze, then thirty-five, also had maturity and worldliness by virtue of being a seeker who was late to his calling. Bishop Eugene Gerber, the man in charge, advised Father Hotze to go to The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he could pursue a JCL (Juris Canonici Licentiatus) in canon law, which is the highly specialized, some say Byzantine, legal system that creates and enforces the laws of the Roman Catholic Church. Byzantine or not, canon law is part of the business of diocesan and parish affairs: someone in the Wichita area needed to know how to interpret and apply its rules.

Father Hotze wasn't sure why a priest perfectly happy serving farm communities needed an advanced degree to administer what Thomas Aquinas, the Church's greatest thinker and philosopher, had foreseen as "an ordinance of reason for the common good" enacted by "competent authority." He decided the most prudent course, however, was to do as he was told—so he tucked the frayed Father Kapaun prayer card of his mother's into his black suit coat and headed to Washington, DC.

Over the next two years, both Father Kapaun and that prayer card got a workout, never more so than on the days leading to his final test. Father Hotze needed to pass a Spanish exam. Easy, huh? Not for him. Foreign languages were his most glaring weaknesses. He had already taken the translation test twice before; he had flamed out. So Father Hotze prayed hard to Father Kapaun, as did his classmates who knew of his devotion to the Kansas chaplain. They stood outside the classroom where he was taking the test with bowed heads and closed eyes and asked that Father Kapaun intercede on their friend's behalf.

Father Hotze did his best and turned in his test to the instructor. What was done was done. His academic fate was now in God's hands. He headed out to join his classmates for a beer at happy hour in their favorite saloon to celebrate their shared academic achievement. Father Hotze did not get far. Monsignor Green, the head of the language department, caught him on the steps of the building and asked for a word.

"Are you going on for a PhD?" the professor asked.

"No," said Father Hotze, "this is it for me."

The professor narrowed his eyes.

"Good," the monsignor said. "You got maybe two translations right, but I'm going to pass you. Don't ever let me see you back here again."

Father Hotze was awarded his JCL, a degree that he still believed he had no use for (and nearly didn't acquire), and returned to Kansas. He was sent to Newton, a town of no more than nineteen thousand, north of Wichita, to become the pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. For four years, no one ever asked him a single question about canon law.

In the fall of 2001, however, Father Hotze was summoned to the chancery by Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who had just been elevated to the rank of bishop and was overseeing a diocese for the first time. He was a fellow Kansan, and he held a doctorate in canon law from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, which was created in the sixteenth century by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. Bishop Olmsted's intellect was matched by his ambition: he had been an official in the Vatican Secretariat of State for more than a decade in Rome. Bishop Olmsted asked Father Hotze what he knew about Father Kapaun.

Father Hotze told him about his deep devotion to the priest, and they shared a laugh at how Father Kapaun had interceded in his Spanish test. Bishop Olmsted was contemplating a campaign to have the hero of the Kansas plains presented to the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints to be considered for sainthood. He had a job for Father Hotze for the cause of Father Kapaun, one with a fancy title: Episcopal Delegate. Bishop Olmsted was not the first Catholic clergyman to champion Father Kapaun. It was not a new thought—the Archdiocese for the Military Services had first taken up his cause, and, in 1993, Father Kapaun cleared the first step on the road to sainthood when Pope John Paul II declared him a Servant of God. But a campaign for sainthood demands money and manpower. Both had been in short supply, so the cause of Father Kapaun had stalled.

Bishop Olmsted told Father Hotze that it was a long, costly process but that he was willing to invest hundreds of thousands of the diocese's money into the effort. He also assured Hotze that neither one of them would be alive when—or if—Father Kapaun was ever canonized. The plan was to launch the campaign and leave it in the best shape possible for whichever bishop, priest, and postulator came after them.

The numbers made that a very good bet. Since 1588, when the Vatican started keeping records on the process, the average time between the death of an eventual saint and canonization was 181 years. Even more daunting was the dearth of American-born saints: there were only two, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint Katharine Drexel. Sister Seton founded the first American order of nuns, the Sisters of Charity, as well as the nation's first Catholic elementary school, which as luck would have it, was adjacent to Mount Saint Mary's Seminary, where Father Hotze earned his divinity degree. Sister Drexel was an heiress and philanthropist who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She was canonized in the year 2000, after thirty-four years of consideration.

On this sweltering July afternoon in the offices of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, however, the long odds Father Kapaun faced in becoming a saint was out of the hands of Father Hotze. For a dozen years, he had dug in and put his shoulder into a process that at first intimidated him, at times plummeted him into doubt and despair, but ultimately deepened his faith.

With Bishop Olmsted's campaign in mind, Father Hotze allowed himself a moment of triumph, an ever so brief one. The day before at a Mass and ceremony at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Wichita, Father Hotze and the diocese officially celebrated the closing of their investigation into Father Kapaun's worthiness.

Now they were handing off his cause to an Italian canon lawyer by the name of Dr. Andrea Ambrosi. He was the postulator for Father Kapaun, the man who would argue the case in the Vatican for why the priest should become a saint. It was Ambrosi who would take the spadework of Father Hotze and transform it into a Positio super vita, virtutibus et fama sanctitatis—or Statement on the Life, Virtue, and Holy Reputation of this Servant of God. Dr. Ambrosi was charged with crafting Hotze's finding into a narrative (in Italian, of course) and becoming the chief spokesman and lobbyist for Father Kapaun in Vatican City. The diocese felt fortunate to have Ambrosi. For generations, his family was part of the Vatican machinery, and he was considered a go-to postulator in Rome. He had spent thirty-seven years burnishing the lives of would-be saints and investigating hundreds of reported miracles they had allegedly bestowed over the globe.

Besides Father Kapaun, Ambrosi was working on a dozen other candidates, including Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a leading theologian and outsized personality who was America's first televangelist. In fact, Archbishop Sheen had won two Emmy Awards for bringing matters of faith into our homes in the early days of television. Ambrosi had come to Wichita for the Mass and ceremony for Father Kapaun, looking immaculate, old-world, and elegant in a bespoke suit. He was all those things—as well as expensive. The average cost of a cause for sainthood was half a million dollars, and the billable hours of Ambrosi would eat up much of that. At the foot of the altar, amber and rouge light reflected through the stained glass and spotlighted the wood crate. After the box was sealed with red wax, Ambrosi tied a red ribbon around it.

Afterward, Ambrosi was upbeat about the chance Father Kapaun had for measuring up to the near-impossible standards of the Congregation of Saints.

"I'm not worried," he said in Italian (as translated by his assistant).

He ticked off a highlight reel of the sacrifices and the derring-do Father Kapaun had performed on the battlefield. He nodded to the detail and testaments from fellow soldiers who Father Hotze had chased down and brought to life.

Two miracles would have to be attributed to Father Kapaun to get him over the finish line, and Ambrosi believed that he might have two already in his pocket from right here in Kansas.

In 2006, a girl named Avery Gerleman, then twelve, spent eighty-seven days in the hospital and doctors told her parents that they had exhausted all medical options. Her parents remained devoted to Father Kapaun, praying to him day and night and enlisting their friends in their parish to do the same. Avery was on a ventilator, her kidneys were failing, and, finally, doctors decided to induce a coma. Her organs were ravaged. If Avery was to live at all, doctors believed, it would be in a vegetative state. Little by little, Avery appeared to heal herself. Sixth months later, she was back on the soccer field. Two years later, Chase Kear, a college track athlete, fractured his skull from ear to ear in a pole vaulting accident. His brain bled and doctors told his family that his chances to survive surgery bordered between slim and none. Kear's family and friends petitioned to Father Kapaun. The young man survived the surgery and was out of the hospital eight weeks later. Doctors in both cases said there was no medical explanation for either of their recoveries: they had witnessed miracles.

After decades of promoting the causes of priests and nuns, Ambrosi especially relished the task of arguing for a hero like Father Kapaun who had impacted so many lives far beyond the borders of their parishes.

"He saved so many people's lives, lived his final days in a prison camp, died so young," Ambrosi said of Father Kapaun. "Already by itself, it all says something great about him that you don't need to read. You know it. He showed that there was not just a devil working on the battlefields of the war, but something else."

Now in the diocese office, Father Hotze couldn't help but think back to a letter Kapaun had written to a family friend on the eve of his ordination. This had been one of Father Hotze's early discoveries, and, as he'd read it, he had felt like Father Kapaun was talking to him.

"I feel like the dickens," Kapaun wrote. "Maybe you do not realize fully what it means to be a priest, but I tell you—after I have studied all these years, I am more convinced that a man must be a living saint in order to take that step. And that is where my worries come in. Gee whiz, I have a feeling that I am far, far from being a saint."

Father Hotze, on the other hand, believed with every cell in his body that Father Kapaun was a saint. He bowed his head and prayed that he had done enough to make the case to Rome, to the pope, and to the world that this priest did indeed deserve sainthood. And he fervently hoped that those 8,268 pages of documents would convince them.


It was early morning and Rome was still sleeping as I walked alongside the Tiber River on my way to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Tourists were lining up outside St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican museums. They are home to priceless works of art, from the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's ceiling to the ancient Laocoön sculpture animating a moment of the Trojan War. With its treasures and its cultural and historical significance, it is easy to overlook the fact that Vatican City is a company town. As a Catholic, it is my company's town. It is the headquarters of the multibillion-dollar Catholic Church. It is the kingdom of a monarchy with Pope Francis as its head. It is where the spiritual, ecclesiastical, and commercial sausage gets made. Vatican City is not much different than Washington, DC, when it comes to government, or New York City when it comes to Wall Street.

It is far more exclusive than most, however, with eight hundred or so denizens in a city of roughly 0.17 square mile. Most of them are in uniform—the clergy in their black pants or cassocks and white collars who keep the business of spirituality humming; and the Pontifical Swiss Guard who look like peacocks in their tricolor blue, red, and yellow dress uniforms, and who are there to protect. Vatican City's demographics skew older, and the apartments inhabited by the Catholic Church's higher-ranking officials are prime real estate with old-world charm. Each morning another two thousand or so bureaucrats and administrators, engineers, and maintenance workers arrive, puffing up Vatican City's chest and assisting in matters of policy and commerce.

On this morning, I was stopping outside its walls at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to meet with Monsignor Robert Sarno. He was an American, a New Yorker actually, who had been a part of the Saint-making machinery for nearly forty years. I had been told that Monsignor Sarno answered his own phone, and I was also forewarned that he was a gruff, blunt man who did not suffer fools easily. My briefers were correct on both counts. I had called the monsignor the prior week and he picked up the phone on its second ring. He was not eager to see me because he was a stickler for process and I had not gone through proper channels. Still, he agreed to a brief meeting after I pleaded ignorance of the protocols and explained that I was in Rome already. I promised him that I would not take up much of his time.

I got crossways with the monsignor as soon as I took a chair across from his desk.

"Where in New York do you live?" he asked.

"The city," I answered.

"I'm from Brooklyn—that's part of the city," he said. "Are you from Brooklyn?"

"Manhattan," I said, chastened.

In a bid to better break the ice, I asked about the painting behind his desk of Mary and the baby Jesus. "Is that famous or have some particular meaning?"

"No, it's just a picture I liked. What can I help you with?" he asked.

Knowing my time was limited, I explained that I understood the steps of becoming a saint and was familiar with the machinery in place here in Rome, but I was interested in what he believed was at the essence of a saint.

Monsignor Sarno inched up in his seat and launched into an explanation that he had leaned on often in interviews with others. He said the Lord, only for reasons he knows, chooses some people in certain moments of history and bestows gifts on them. These gifts are witnessed by the people in his or her community at the time and are interpreted as "sign posts" on a road, and they lay out a path to follow in life or for how to get to heaven. In saints, Monsignor Sarno explained, word of these gifts spreads beyond the community and is handed down for generations. At some point, these gifts become widely known. People start praying for this gifted and holy person to help them and, if the person possesses the stuff of saints, miracles occur—people come out of comas or diseases suddenly disappear without medical explanation.

"I like to say that a saint has two I's," he said, warming up. "The 'I' for imitation and the 'I' for intercession. Once a bishop has determined that the faithful is convinced of this 'imitatableness' if you will, and then has the confirmation that prayers have been answered through the intercession of these individuals, he can start a process, the cause."

In a few quick strokes, Monsignor argued that Saint-making is among the most democratic processes because the causes bubble up from the Church faithful. It takes time because reams of evidence must be discovered, and scores of historians and theologians—experts all—must examine the candidate's life and alleged miracles. When that is concluded, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints only makes a recommendation.

"The Holy Father alone has the final decision," he said.

I asked about the importance of lobbying, politics, and even "star power." After all, John Paul II, a man whom he had worked for, was canonized in 2014, or just nine years after his death. On the day of his funeral hundreds of thousands overstuffed St. Peter's Square and chanted "Santo, subito" or "Sainthood, now!" Soon after, Pope Benedict XVI waived the five-year waiting period after a person's death to begin canonization. John Paul II had previously curtailed the waiting period from fifty years to five years.

Monsignor Sarno was not biting. And what about the "cold causes," in Saint-making parlance, or the candidacies that go dormant for generations or die altogether?

He got up from behind his desk. My time was up.

"You have to find the miracles they are responsible for," he said. "The way you do that is with more prayer."


The Catholic Church teaches that all people in heaven are saints, but that canonized Saints are recognized for living lives of such heightened virtue that they are worthy of our imitation. Think of them as the superheroes of the Catholic Church. They are the first among equals in what is known as the communion of saints, or the spiritual solidarity that welds the faithful here on earth, the souls in purgatory—in Catholic doctrine, purgatory is sort of a waiting room of suffering some souls go through before ascending to heaven—and all those of truth and love, in whom the Holy Spirit is at work. There are about ten thousand saints, though the exact number and legitimacy of some of them is open to debate. The first mention of saints appeared in the fourth century. Early Christian communities venerated them in bunches mostly on reputation—all that was needed was permission from a bishop or a holy man or woman. By the sixth century, Saint Gregory of Tours, a historian and hagiographer, wrote a book on contemporary saints that were mostly clergy and ascetics. The subset of ascetics and hermits can make for some strange reading but shows that early Catholics were far more inclusive than the modern Church. Among these early saints was Saint Monegundis, the only woman in the book, and someone Gregory knew. She was married and had two daughters who died suddenly. She fell into a depression and her grief was threatening her mindfulness of God. So, with her husband's blessing, she enclosed herself in a cell with a single window. She ate bread and water and slept on the floor. Soon, other women sought her spiritual advice and that tiny cell became the cornerstone of a convent. By Saint Gregory's account, Monegundis's life of denial and prayer made space in her heart for a sacred power to cure bodies and spirits. Even after her death, those who visited her tomb were able to "drink in the resurrection."


  • “Drape’s latest is a feel-good account of the campaign to canonize the Rev. Emil Kapaun...The book is at its most thrilling in its tales of the priest’s wartime heroics....Fascinating.”—The New York Times
  • "Inspiring, and beautifully written, Joe Drape's new book seamlessly combines three fascinating tales: the saga of a Catholic war hero and future saint, the story of how the church 'canonizes' a person (that is, recognizes saints) and the spiritual journey of an initially skeptical author. The Saint Makers is revelatory in truest sense of the word: it reveals Father Kapaun's astounding holiness, the church's dogged pursuit of the truth, and the author's heartfelt quest for a more authentic spiritual life."—James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints and Learning to Pray
  • "In a riveting story that moves from a small town in Kansas to the halls of the Vatican, Joe Drape draws back the curtain on one of Catholicism's least-understood processes, the making of a saint. It's a story of spiritual struggle -- in prisoner-of-war-camps in Korea, in the lives of modern families praying for miraculous healing, and in the personal pilgrimage of an author alienated by scandals in the church. Drape's narrative is engaging and thought-provoking. With a combination of journalistic skepticism and religious sensitivity, he confronts the question: Why do saints matter today?"
    John Thavis, author of The Vatican Diaries
  • “A phenomenal book…[Joe Drape] is a fantastic writer….He takes you through this incredible journey of an American war hero who was a Catholic priest who was so brave and patient and peaceful and kind and had so much valor and humanity.”—“Kennedy Saves the World,” Fox News
  • “Hope and inspiration seem in short supply as this pandemic persists, but a bit of divine intervention seems to burst from Drape’s new book… Resisting hagiography, he investigates the convoluted process of saint-making and the fascinating characters who gather evidence and led the campaign for Father Kapuan’s sainthood. Drape enriches an inquiry into his own faith with a light personal touch, drawing on his Jesuit youth and reflecting the universal draw of Kapaun’s heroism.”—The National Book Review
  • "Engaging... this profile in sainthood is humane and compelling."—Kirkus Reviews
  • “An illuminating exploration of the heroism of Korean War military chaplain Emil Kapaun….[A]moving account of courage and faith in the killing fields of Korea.”—Publishers Weekly
  • “An absorbing story….Drape… thoughtfully explor[es] his complex relationship with his faith, burnished by his research into Fr. Kapaun…. This insightful account will appeal to readers who enjoy stories about faith and war heroics, and those interested in saint making within the Catholic Church.”—Library Journal
  • "A fascinating look into a world that for centuries has been mostly hidden.... Drape [tells] the story of the saint making process, with detail and drama...[an] extraordinary look into the previously unknown and most holy process of the Catholic Church."—"Feisty Side of Fifty" podcast
  • "A fantastic read."—KSCJ’s “Having Read That…”
  • “Joe Drape tells a compelling tale in The Saint Makers. Indeed, the man is a fantastic writer, and his talent is on full display….Here the book will likely prove eye-opening for the average Catholic who is unfamiliar with what it takes to get someone beatified or canonized….Drape is on a pilgrimage. Judging by what he writes here, he is growing in his faith, and his recounting of his journey is compelling, thought-provoking reading.”—National Catholic Register
  • "A great book."—“The Miracle Hunter” (EWTN Catholic Radio)
  • The Saint Makers is both insightful and refreshing….What makes this story unique is the multilayered approach of storytelling in The Saint Makers that makes a complex story accessible to those who have no prior knowledge of Japan, the Korean War, the Catholic Church, or the miracles needed to obtain Sainthood.”—KRPS

On Sale
Dec 1, 2020
Page Count
256 pages
Hachette Books

Joe Drape

About the Author

Joe Drape is an award-winning sportswriter for the New York Times. He is the author of six books, including the New York Times bestsellers Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen and American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner’s Legendary Rise. His book Black Maestro was the inaugural winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award. A native of Kansas City and graduate of Rockhurst High School, Drape earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Southern Methodist University. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

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