Thursday 2 July 2020

A Storybook of Saints - Elizabeth Hanna Pham and Cecilia Vu

A Storybook of Saints
Elizabeth Hanna Pham
Cecilia Vu (Illustrator)
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781644130681

Over the last few months several books about saints have come to my attention. This is the second of them that I have read.  This volume contains 50 stories about saints. Part of the description of the volume states:

“Written for children five to eight years old -- but a delight for all readers -- My Favorite Saint Stories tells about the world's greatest heroes: the saints.

Focusing not so much on historical details about the saints but on a few memorable events in the lives of each, it is not so much a collection of biographies as a storybook.”

And that is what we get. There are a few stories that I took issue with because of inaccuracies. It is ok to write about the saints but to have errors in the story may cause confusion. For example, the story on Saint Patrick talks about his praying his Breast Plate prayer while still a slave because he had no shield, sword or protection.

“Ireland was a strange land. Its people believed strange things and worshipped strange gods. Many of the Irish people were not friendly to Christians, and Patrick often feared for his life. Without armor, shield, or sword, Patrick had no way to defend himself.

So, Patrick decided to pray. He prayed during the day and during the night. He prayed that Jesus would always be with him. He prayed that Jesus would be his shield and his armor:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, he prayed.”

Having read extensively on the life of Patrick, and even various translations of his works This prayer was from a very different place in his life. There were a few other instances like that. And the Patrick one really stuck out to me.

The saints covered in this volume are:

December 6: Nicholas
December 9: Juan Diego
December 13: Lucy
December 27: John the Evangelist
December 28: The Holy Innocents
January 1: Mary
January 6: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar
January 28: Thomas Aquinas
February 3: Blaise
February 20: Jacinta
March 7: Perpetua
March 17: Patrick
March 19: Joseph
April 16: Bernadette
April 23: George
April 28: Gianna
May 30: Joan
June 13: Anthony
June 22: Thomas More
June 24: John the Baptist
June 29: Simon Peter
July 6: Maria Goretti
July 12: Veronica
July 12: Louis and Zélie
July 14: Kateri
July 22: Mary Magdalene
July 25: Christopher
July 26: Anne and Joachim
July 31: Ignatius
August 10: Lawrence
August 11: Philomena
August 11: Clare
August 14: Maximilian Kolbe
August 23: Rose
August 27 and 28: Monica and Augustine
September 5: Teresa of Calcutta
September 17: Hildegard
September 21: Matthew
September 23: Padre Pio
September 29: Michael
September 29: Gabriel
October 1: Thérèse
October 4: Francis
October 15: Teresa of Avila
October 22: Lolek
November 5: Elizabeth
November 16: Margaret
November 17: Elizabeth of Hungary
November 22: Cecilia
November 24: Vietnamese Martyrs

Aside from the few inaccuracies I very much enjoyed the stories in this book. Each of the 50 stories has the story, a sketch and then a brief biography. While reading this volume I thought of the few volumes of books about Irish Saints that I have read by Alice Curtayne. Particularly Twenty Tales of Irish Saints. Overall, it was an enjoyable read. Some of the pen and ink sketches are exceptional and would make excellent prayer cards.

A book I am happy I came across and one I would recommend with the few warnings above.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Elizabeth Hanna Pham:
Sons of God
A Storybook of Saints

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