Tuesday 17 July 2018

Saints of Africa - Jean Olwen Maynard - Catholic Truth Society

Saints of Africa
Jean Olwen Maynard
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781784690373
eISBN 9781784693428

This was the third book I have read by Jean Olwen Maynard and it will not be the last. There are three books in this specific series from the catholic Truth Society and they are: Saints of North America, Saints of South Asia, and Saints of Africa. But there are some significant differences across the books. The one on North America Focused on regions and time and grouped numerous saints in each chapter. Where this book, and in the book on South Asian Saints, each chapter is dedicated to a different person, one is on a specific saint, seven are blessed, and a chapter on the Martyr Saints of Uganda. This book and the whole trilogy are incredible reads.

In this specific book the chapters in this are:

Christianity in Africa
Blessed Ghebre-Michael
St Josephine Bakhita
The Martyr Saints of Uganda
Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo
Blessed Isidore Bakanja
Blessed Daudi Okelo and Blessed Jildo Irwa
Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi
Blessed Clementine Alphonsine Anuarite Nengapeta
Further Reading

The description of this book is:

"The African saints that Catholics are most likely to have heard of even if they don't know much about them lived a very long time ago, and often in parts of Africa which are no longer Christian. In our own time, and in the more recently Christianised parts of Africa, the Catholic Church is growing faster than perhaps anywhere else in the world but what do we know about the modern saints of Africa such as Daudi Okelo, Clementine Anuarite, Ghebre-Michael, Victoria Rasoamanarivo, to name a few? Here's a chance to find out."

Of the saints and blesseds in this volume I was only familiar with one before reading this book. This book opened my eyes to a region of the world ,where my knowledge of saints and even church history was greatly lacking. This book begins with this statement:

"The Gospel of Jesus Christ began to be proclaimed in Africa at a very early date, but eighteen centuries were to pass before it made any significant impact on the sub-Saharan region. Why was this? There's no easy answer, but we know that God is the lord of history, and even when we can't fully understand the how or the why, it's important to know something of the course of events."

There are many saints, desert mothers and fathers from the Saharan region, but this book focuses on the sub-Saharan, and unless you have spent specific time studying that region I am sure this book will be full of surprises. The brief biographies in this book span from the late 1700's right through to modern times. Though the majority are from the 1800's. In the chapter on Blessed Clementine it states: 

"During a visit to Kisangani in 1980, Pope John Paul II met with Sr Clementine's parents. Julienne could hardly believe what was happening "I'm a poor woman and I've spoken to the Pope… Was it really me that gave birth to this saint?" During the beatification ceremony, in Kinshasa in 1985, the Pope repeated in the name of the whole Church her words of forgiveness for Pierre Olombe."

The stories in this book are an inspiration. The faith of the women and men presented in this book will challenge your own faith. The stories will motivate you. And each chapter ends with a prayer, a few I have copied into my prayer notebook for regular use. A sample prayer is:
"Blessed Daudi and Jildo, in your hearts burned an ardent desire to proclaim the Gospel, and through your martyrdom you strengthened the early growth of the Church in your homeland. Help us to become strong in our faith, and to share it with our brothers and sisters. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."
This book is a little gem. As are the three in the series. After reading this book I have ended up adding a few books to my to be read pile, I want to go deeper and learn more about a few of the saints and blesseds presented in this book. I earnestly hope that this series will be continued possible with a volume on Saints of South America, Saints of Latin America, or Saints of Central Asia as a few possible future titles. I loved this book and all three volumes that are currently available. And am reading this book currently with my youngest daughter. I give this book and this series my highest recommendation. Another great read from the Catholic Truth Society!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Published work by Jean Olwen Maynard:
Privately published by religious orders/parishes:
Greyfriars Convent, Elgin (2006)
A History of St Mary and St Michael’s Parish, Commercial Road, East London (2007)
Sisters of Mercy Bristol (2008)
150 Years of Mercy: A History of the Sisters of Mercy Commercial Road East London (2009)
The Saint of Hoxton (2011)
Saint Monica’s Church Hoxton Square (2018) 
150th anniversary history brochure for Parish of Guardian Angels, Mile End (2018)
150th anniversary history brochure for Parish of Our Lady and St Catherine of Sienna, Bow (2020) 
Immaculate Heart of Mary and St Dominic, Homerton 1873-2023 – 150 Years: A History of the Parish (2023)

CTS Booklets:
Isidore Bakanja 
Joseph Vaz

Between Christendom and Islam, The Martyr Mystic Christian de Chergé and the Atlas Cistercians in Algeria, in: Catholic in Religious Dialogue: Monasticism, Theology and Spirituality, ed Anthony O’Mahoney and Peter Bowe OSB, Gracewing, 2006
Campaign for the Catholic Workhouse Children, in: British Catholic History, Vol 31: Issue 4 Oct 2015

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