Tuesday 4 June 2019

Martyrs - Kathryn Griffin Swegart - Brave Hearts Book 2

Brave Hearts Book 2
Kathryn Griffin Swegart
ISBN 9781097783144

This was the third book by Kathryn that I have read in as many weeks. I bought this book and one other before even finishing Perilous Days, book 1 in the Brave Hearts series. I did not even read the description before purchasing it, so I was honestly a little surprised when the setting was not WWII. For this book takes place almost 250 years before the events of World War II. But my shock at the jump back in time did not impact how excellent a read this book was. This story takes us back in time. It is the story of Father Sebastian Rale a Jesuit missionary that lived among the Wabanaki people from 1689-1724. This book is a page turner, and I am having a hard time placing it. It could be historical fiction, it could be hagiography, or it could be biography. Or a mix of all three. 

In reading this book we learn about the life of Father Sebastian Rale he was a heroic priest. He was a missionary, and he was a martyr. He lived to serve. He loved his adopted people, and ultimately died for them. He had great faith, great innovation, and ultimately great courage. I read through this book in 2 sittings because I could not put it down. And Since then I have started reading it with my three children ages 8-13. It is an excellent read. The historical note at the beginning of this book ends with this paragraph:

“In every war there must be a lightning rod for hatred. That enemy must be evil personified. As British propaganda pamphlets were printed and distributed to colonists, one name stood out above all the rest. Father Sebastian Rale, S.J., was a missionary living with the Wabanaki people in Norridgewock, along the banks of the Kennebec River. British leaders saw him as a man in league with the devil. Soon after Father Rale arrived in the New World, Jesuits were banned from the colonies. No one could have imagined that this refined Jesuit, trained in the finest universities in France, could live among the Wabanakis for thirty years. 

Meanwhile, hatred for Father Rale and racial bigotry toward the indigenous people boiled over in the year 1724. A price was put on Father Sebastian Rale’s head; the British sharpened their knives and took to the woods, intent on scalping his gray head. After thirty years of this Frenchman living among the Wabanakis, the time had come to take his scalp.”

It was inspiring to read this story. A story about a time when Catholicism was misunderstood and hated. A time and a place when being a priest or being Catholic was dangerous. It is the story of a priest living out his vocation in a remote community, far from home, and even from having the support of other Catholic clergy.

As a Canadian it is very interesting reading this story about a Jesuit that traveled from New France, to Main and lived and served, and died there. This story expanded my horizons, it enhanced my knowledge of the early missionaries in North America and their love and support of their community. This book was so hard to put down, and just as I was finishing this read, I heard that the author is already working on a third volume in this excellent series. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Kathryn Griffin Swegart:
Brave Hearts Series:
Perilous Days
Lucia of Fatima

1 comment:

kathrynswegart.com said...

Thanks for the thoughtful review. Movement is afoot in Maine for his name to be placed in the canonization process. He definitely has the courage of the North American martyrs.