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Sunday, 31 October 2021

Nine Days with Saint Michael - Andrew Offer, O.P. and Jonah Teller O.P.

Nine Days with Saint Michael
Andrew Offer, O.P.
Jonah Teller O.P.
Sebastian White O.P. (Editor)
eISBN 9781949239935
ASIN B09F8DK9P2


I picked this up to read, after reading and reviewing Nine Days with Saint Joseph, by the same authors. I really enjoy the format and style of both books, and wish there were more available. The description of this book is:

“Saint Michael defends the Church against the wickedness and the snares of the Devil.

Over nine days, get to know this great warrior better through prayer, hymns, Scripture, meditations, and art.

Each day focuses on one of Saint Michael's outstanding qualities and includes:

- A hymn set to a well-known tune
- A Scripture passage
- A meditation from a saint or well-known spiritual writer
- A variety of prayers, including intercessions for you to personalize
- Beautiful artwork

Let him protect you and your family!”

It is available in print, though currently awaiting a reprint, and as an eBook on several platforms, also in bulk from the publisher. It would be excellent to work through with a group or even as a parish. Working through it as a group you could do one day a week for 9 weeks. The sections in this volume are:

Introduction
Day One: Who Is Like God?
Day Two: Archangel
Day Three: Great Prince
Day Four: “May The Lord Rebuke You!”
Day Five: “I Will Serve!”
Day Six: At The Altar Of Incense
Day Seven: Battling The Dragon
Day Eight: The Scales Of Judgment
Day Nine: Everlasting Praise
Appendix
     Litany of Saint Michael
     The Chaplet of Saint Michael

This book, like the other volume, is very accessible. It is an excellent little read. It was hard to put down and spread the reading over the nine days. At the end of most days I wanted to push on and keep reading. We are informed that:

“Each day follows the same structure: a hymn, a reading from Scripture, and a meditation, followed by a set of intercessions. We encourage you to entrust to Saint Michael some special intention during these days of prayer. Then we pray the Lord’s Prayer. After invoking the intercession of Mary, Queen of Angels, we have a closing prayer. Finally, each day concludes with the traditional prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.”

Two of the passages I highlighted while reading this volume are:

“This fight against the devil, which distinguishes the figure of the Archangel Michael, is still relevant today, because the devil is still alive and operating in the world.”

“Let there be no mistake: a spiritual war is being waged in the world. Saint Michael and his angels fight against the dragon and his angels. We cannot be neutral in this battle. We call upon Saint Michael’s leadership to fight against our ancient foe today.”

This volume can be read and worked through at any time of the year. I read it so that I would finish on the Feast of the Archangels. I encourage you to pick it up and read it. It is an excellent novena to Saint Michael. I strongly encourage you to give this book a read. I am certain it will benefit your spiritual life. A great little read. And I hope Magnificat will release more novena books in this format and style.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Andrew Offer, O.P. and Jonah Teller O.P.:



Saturday, 30 October 2021

Saint Cloud of Gaul The Prince Who Traded Kingdoms - Susan Peek - God's Forgotten Friends Lives of Little-known Saints Book 4

Saint Cloud of Gaul
The Prince Who Traded Kingdoms
Susan Peek
Seven Swords Publications
ISBN 9780997000597
ASIN B09FFWCBSY


This was the seventh book I have read by Susan Peek over the last few months. I have been greatly impressed by them all. I loved Saint Magnus The Last Viking, and found it very well written. And her handling of mental illness and especially PTSD in The King's Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland was incredible. This volume was on a saint I was not familiar with and it is a fascinating story well written. I could barely put this book down. Peek does an amazing job of writing novels about lesser known saints. And really brings the characters, their history, their lives to life fo us. The books are written for young adult readers but can be enjoyed by tweens, teens, and adults alike. We are informed that the inspiration for this series is:

““In many chapels,
reddened by the setting sun,
the saints rest silently,
waiting for someone to love them.”

These words, penned by an unknown priest, long dead,
were the inspiration for this series on the lives of saints
who have fallen deep into the shadows of obscurity.
My hope is that, in reading their heroic stories,
you will make the acquaintance of some of
God's Forgotten Friends”

The description of this volume is:

“A horrific act of treachery. A hairbreadth escape. A decade of desperate hiding. And an encounter with Christ that changes it all!

When young Prince Cloud, grandson of the mighty King Clovis and heir to the Kingdom of Orleans, is suspiciously summoned to his uncle's castle, little does he know his world is about to implode. Hurled into a life of danger, where his royal identity must remain hidden at all costs, Cloud eventually stumbles upon the only Kingdom worth fighting for.

Nearly everyone has heard of St. Cloud, Minnesota, but few know the story of the inspiring saint whose name it bears. The time has come for Saint Cloud of Gaul to blaze forth from hiding!”

Now to be honest I was not familiar with St. Cloud, Minnesota nor Saint Cloud or Saint Clodoald as he is also known as. This book was a wonderful read. It is inspiring, encouraging, challenging. And at the end is an excellent prayer that I have added to my daily prayers. 

The book draws readers in. It brings the characters to life. The story takes place between about 525 and 561AD in Gaul. We experience life in a very different time. But a faith we can learn from. It is a fantastic read. It is another excellent volume from the pen of Susan Peek. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Susan Peek:
...

Picture Books:
Animals of God
Animals of God, Volume Two
The Forgotten Christmas Saint: Saint Anastasia
The Man God Kept Surprising
Small for the Glory of God

...

Books published by Susan Peek:
Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory


Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
...






Friday, 29 October 2021

I Left My Brains in San Francisco - Karina Fabian - Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator 2

I Left My Brains in San Francisco 
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator 2
Second Edition
Karina Fabian
Laser Cow Press
ASIN B09HMY4N5D


I have waited a long time for this book to be back in print, and it exceeded all expectations. I have been a fan of Fabian’s works for years, but only in the last few have really dug into the cannon and read across most of her series and stand alones. If you have not read her yet and are hesitant pick up The Worlds of Fabian Space A Story Sampler. But if you have read Zombie Death Extreme Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator this is a must read! This revised Second Edition was published in 2021, the original version was published by Damnation Press in 2010.  This book is back in print and I am thankful that it is, and I look forward to a previously unreleased third volume, Shambling in a Winter Wonderland, but back to this volume. 

The first story felt like a cross between a science experiment gone wrong, reality tv at both it is best and worse, and the Zombie apocalypse. And it is a whole lot of fun. Neeta Lyffe is a second-generation Zombie Exterminator. She is in huge financial straits because of a lawsuit for damages after she save a fat cat and his party goers. She is now on contract to lead a group of newbies through training, exercise, and field work to become a licensed Zombie Exterminator. With conflict with her studio bosses. An on-air radio personality romantic interest. A Camera man who wants to get in on the Zombie killing action. 

In this second story Neeta and Ted are kind of a thing. They are partners in the Extermination business. But Ted has some plans and part of those plays are to get Neeta away from the day to day grind. They are heading to an exterminator’s convention/vacation in … you guessed it, San Francisco. Neeta is pretty famous in the community, and Ted is well know from the Reality TV Show, and now as Neeta’s sidekick. Trying to add sightseeing to a busy convention and public appearance schedule is hard enough. Neeta is also trying to figure out where her relationship actually stands. But even that busy schedule is not enough soon there is a Zombie outbreak and swarm as the creatures crawl and walk from a watery grave at an ecological marine grave.  But these Zombies are different. They seem to have a purpose and a plan. And it will be up to Neeta, Ted and many others to put them back down, and clean up this mess.

But this story is not all conventions, appearances and the thrill of the re-kill. There are new weapons to be tested, new products to try, advancements in protective gear. There are also rivalries, friends old and new, and much more. The story proceeds at a fast pace. Is packed with action and humour. The characters are amazing! You will find yourself pulling for Ted. 

I loved this book. But just a word of warning. There is an assault, Neeta is attacked by another exterminator she had flirted with. It could be hard to read for some. But only an idiot would attempt that on a daughter or a marine, and one of the world’s top Zombie exterminators who spends her days swinging chainsaws. 

At the centre of this story is “the Give Back Memorial Gardens and Fish Sanctuary off the coast of San Francisco Bay. The Give Back Gardens hosts the remains of over 500 well-respected and environmentally conscious celebrities from across the United States, who donated their fortunes in order to ‘give back’ to the earth by allowing their corpses to become fish food.”

It should be noted that no zombies were hurt in the researching and writing of this story. And at least currently the Give Back Gardens is a work of fiction. If you like humorous fiction with excellent writing, great characters and fun stories, this book and series are for you. Pick it up and give it a read. I am certain it will leave you desperate for the next volume Shambling in a Winter Wonderland

Another great read from the ever entertaining pen of Karina Fabian.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!


Dex Hollister Series:

The Old Man and the Void
Dex's Way
...

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator Series :
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator
I Left My Brains in San Francisco
Shambling in a Winter Wonderland


DragonEye PI Series:
DragonEye PI Novels:
3.6 Christmas Spirits
4.0 Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Revised edition)
5.0 Live and Let Fly (Revised edition)
... 

DragonEye PI Short Stories:

DragonEye PI Original First Editions:
Live and Let Fly
...

Space Traipse Series:
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 2
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 3
Space Traipse Stories

Mind Over Series:
Mind Over Mind
Mind Over Psyche
Mind Over All
Hearts Over Mind


Edited by: Karina Fabian:
Infinite Space, Infinite God I
Leaps of Faith
Infinite Space, Infinite God II


Contributed to:
Firestorm of Dragons
The Zombie Cookbook
The Book of Tentacles
Twisted Fayrie Tales
FRIGHTLINER: And Other Tales of the Undead
Mother Goose is Dead
Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Corrupts Absolutely? Dark Metahuman Fiction
Weird Noir
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels
Manifesto UF
Avenir Eclectia
Planetary Anthology: Jupiter
Planetary Anthology: Pluto
Planetary Anthology: Luna
Planetary Anthology: Uranus
FlagShip Science Fiction and Fantasy v2i5
My Little Book of Headdesks
To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity
...

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Oscar Romero Martyr for Faith - Father Ashley Beck - CTS 20th Century Martyrs

Oscar Romero Martyr for Faith
CTS 20th Century Martyrs
Father Ashley Beck
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 
9781784690595
eISBN 9781784692629
ASIN B071LKM12H
CTS Booklet B700


During my time in University I did a Religious Studies degree with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought. I was fairly familiar with the broad strokes of the story of Oscar Romero. But this book handles the man, his fiath, and his martyrdom in a very different way. This was the ninth volume in the CTS 20th Century Martyrs series that I have read. It is also the third by Father Ashley Beck that I have read. Over the last few years, I have read over 200 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society, and still have almost that many on my wish list. I believe there are eleven volumes in this series. This was one of two new ones I have come across.  About half of them have eBook editions. This is one that does. I believe there are few Catholic who have not heart at least the name Oscar Romero. I knew the name and the details I was not aware of the whole story, and the light shone on him in academia is different than that from this excellent volume. This is a complex and yet powerful story.  

The description of this volume is:

“Biography of the famous martyred bishop from El Salvador known for speaking up for the poor and for his fidelity to the Church. 

Throughout history Christians have suffered martyrdom and torture as a result of ‘hatred of the faith’ (odium fidei). Archbishop Oscar Romero, gunned down while saying Mass, was declared to be such a martyr by Pope Francis, thus opening the way for his beatification. Romero paid the ultimate price for his faithfulness to Christ and his Church, rather than is often misrepresented, for his political activism. Romero’s impressive body of teaching, personal holiness and sufferings illustrate what an impressive witness to the faith he truly was.”

This volume was first published in 2008, revised in 2015 the eBook edition was released in 2017. And it was rebranded in 2020 or 2021 when the CTS started moving away from series. The book is one of over 60 biographies from the CTS I have read and I highly recommend it. . 

The chapters in the volume are:

Martyr’s Witness
Early Life, Priest and Bishop
Archbishop of San Salvador
Teaching of Óscar Romero
Sanctity of Óscar Romero
Martyrdom of Óscar Romero
Further Reading
Endnotes

I was 10 when Oscar Romero was assassinated. I remember it being on the news and brought up in religion classes. At that time I knew little of modern martyrs. This story and others in the series are often not easy to read. We know the end of the story. But they are important books to read. And this one is very important. Much of what I had previously read about this Saint was far more black and white. Where this volume fleshes out the man, and his theology in the wide range of greys. In the book we are informed that:

“I am thinking first of all of the witness of martyrs. The martyr, in effect, is the most authentic witness to the truth about existence. He knows that he has found in the encounter with Jesus Christ the truth about his life and no one and nothing can ever take away that certainty. Neither suffering nor a violent death will force him to separate from the adherence to truth that he has found in his encounter with Christ.”

And also:

“While his martyrdom is the most important aspect of Romero’s life, it is also good to be reminded of his teachings as a bishop. In particular, the notion of the “preferential option for the poor” has become far more at the centre of Catholic life than would have been true at the time of his death - perhaps partly because of his death. It is not simply now an idea associated with the “theologies of liberation”, but rather something which is mainstream and part of the Church’s whole body of authoritative teaching. Along with important developments in the theologies of liberation, what this means is that much of the message of Romero is far less controversial among Catholics than would have been the case a quarter of a century ago. It is still a challenging message and still raises up martyrs, such as the Guatemalan bishop Juan Gerardi, killed in 1998, but there is far more unity and coherence within the Catholic community about this witness.”

This book is a powerful little volume. It will not answer all the questions. But it gives us a great starting point. There is an extensive reference section, for going deeper and further. Those references are broken into 5 sections:

     Romero’s own words:
     Studies of Romero:
     Works on related topics:
     Video:
     The Archbishop Romero Trust:

This is an amazing story and it is well worth the read.  An excellent volume in an important series. I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Oscar Romero: Martyr for Faith - Ashley Beck
Pedro Poveda - Bernadette Lally
...

Other CTS Martyrs Books:
Martyrs of Nagasak - Lucian Hunt  
Martyrs of Uganda - Joanna Bogle   
Martyrs of Vietnam - Bob Bloomfield  

Books by Ashley Beck:
Europe's Soul and Her Patron Saints
Ronald Knox
Thomas Merton: Contemplative and Peace-maker











Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Faustina Kowalska Messenger of Mercy - Susan Helen Wallace and Joan Waites - Encounter the Saints Series Book 23

Faustina Kowalska
Messenger of Mercy
Encounter the Saints Series Book 23
Susan Helen Wallace 
Joan Waites (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819871015
eISBN 9781306806787
ASIN B00AEYPQGA
ASIN B01FJ17ANO


We have read over 30 books in this series so far. I started reading them, then started reading them with my three youngest children. My children and I love this series. We have read many of the books more than once. I have ready several books about Divine Mercy, and kept putting this one off. This one far exceeded my expectations. I read this one on my own on a quiet rainy Saturday afternoon. Over a couple large mugs of coffee. I read it on my own but my youngest two children notices I was read as I finished and have added it to their ‘to be read list’. 

This is an awesome series is! Between my three children and I we have now read nearly all of the books in this series. I read them either by myself, or with one or more child. My youngest 2 children ages 13, 10, still both love these books. And they have read or reread them to us. My son wants to have the complete set in his room, so he keeps asking to buy his own set, because he loves these books so much. We have picked up several volumes to donate to the school library. I would love to have the whole set in the school library as a resource when the students are picking confirmation saints. Every time we read a book in  the series we appreciate this series more. We also hope there will be more books released in the series in the future. I would love to see their handling of Saint Josemaria Escriva, Blessed Carlo Actus, … and many more. We would also like to  eventually see eBooks of all of the volumes in the series. With my dyslexia and my son’s eye tracking issues we both prefer eBooks where we can change page color, font size and font spacing. Now back to this specific book on Saint Andre Bessette. 

The description of this volume is:

“Growing up in war-torn Poland, Faustina felt the calling to give her life to God as a religious sister. As Jesus' "secretary," she carried out the important mission of teaching the world to trust in the limitless mercy of God. Jesus revealed the devotion to Divine Mercy through her, and with prayers and faith, she brought this message to the whole world! Blessed with many extraordinary gifts, including visions, prophecy, and invisible stigmata, few people knew the real depths of her spirituality.”

There are several different editions of this book, paperbacks and eBooks of various formats they were published between 2007 and 2012. It does not matter which edition you lay your hands on I am certain you will be blessed by reading of the book. 

The chapters in this volume are:

1. A Girl Named Helena
2. Tell Us a Story
3. A Secret of the Heart
4. Jesus Was Waiting
5. Drifting
6. Convent Life
7. A New Name
8. Challenges
9. Help from Heaven
10. Back to Glogowiec
11. Jesus’ Special Request
12. Toward the Goal
13. The Stranger
14. You Are a Saint
15. The Long Road Home
Prayer
The Devotion to Divine Mercy
Glossary

The prayer in this volume is:

“Saint Faustina, you have so much to teach us with your life. Jesus chose you to remind us that our Savior loves and accepts us as we are. You used all your energy to carry out God’s plan for you. Your day-to-day life wasn’t always easy. You were poor, and at times misunderstood by those who failed to recognize the love of Jesus in your heart. Jesus called the kingdom of heaven a treasure and a pearl of great price. You found that kingdom and that pearl in the Lord himself.

You preached Jesus’ mercy with your life, with the Diary you wrote, and with the painting you had made. You never imagined all the good that Jesus would do through you. Saint Faustina, please teach me to love and trust in our most merciful Jesus. Amen.”

The prayer in this volume is the very similar to the one as in the companion volume, The Saints Pray for Us, which has prays for the first 30 saints and blessed covered in the series. This book is a wonderful read. Learning about Saint Faustina Kowalska was a blessing. Learning about her early years which were a focus in this volume more so than some of the others I have read. For example:

“When Helena’s first Communion day arrived, she kissed each of her parents’ hands. “Papa, Mama, I’m so sorry for whatever I have done wrong. Please forgive me.” Her parents took turns hugging her, and Helena felt really ready to go to church and receive Jesus in Holy Communion.”

And also:

“The Kowalska girls owned only one dress that was good enough to wear to Sunday Mass. They would never wear their faded, shabby work clothes to worship God. Because the girls were close enough in size, they took turns wearing their only dress, handmade by Mama, to Sunday Mass.

On the Sundays when it wasn’t Helena’s turn to go to Mass, she prayed alone in her favorite quiet corner at home. She prayed for as long as she thought the Mass was going on at her parish church. Sometimes Mama would call Helena to perform a chore. If Helena didn’t respond right away, Mama realized the Mass must still be going on. As soon as prayer time was over, Helena would hurry to her mother and kiss her hand. “Don’t be angry, Mama,” she would say. “I was praying just as if I were there at church for Mass.””

This book was a fascinating read from beginning to end. It was hard to put down. It is one of my favourites in the series. I loved this book, and all three children and I love this series! We have now read over 30 of the books in the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media. And everyone has been worth the read. An outstanding read in a wonderful series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media:
Blessed James Alberione Media Apostle
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Journey to the Summit
Journeys with Mary Apparitions of Our Lady
Saint André Bessette Miracles in Montreal
Saint Anthony of Padua Fire and Light
Saint Bakhita of Sudan Forever Free
Saint Bernadette Soubirous And Our Lady of Lourdes
Saint Catherine Labouré And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Saint Clare of Assisi A Light for the World
Saint Damien of Molokai Hero of Hawaii
Saint Edith Stein Blessed by the Cross

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Daughter of America
Saint Faustina Kowalska Messenger of Mercy
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Cecchina's Dream
Saint Francis of Assisi Gentle Revolutionary
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla The Gift of Life
Saint Ignatius of Loyola For the Greater Glory of God
Saint Isaac Jogues With Burning Heart
Saint Joan of Arc God's Soldier
Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young
Saint John Neumann Missionary to Immigrants
Saint John Paul II Be Not Afraid
Saint John Vianney A Priest for All People
Saint Juan Diego And Our Lady of Guadalupe
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Courageous Faith
Saint Katharine Drexel The Total Gift
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque And the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Saint Martin de Porres Humble Healer
Saint Maximilian Kolbe Mary's Knight
Saint Paul The Thirteenth Apostle
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina Rich in Love
Saint Teresa of Avila Joyful in the Lord
Saint Teresa of Calcutta Missionary of Charity
Saint Teresa of Kalkota Missionary of Charity
...






Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Padre Pio A Holy Priest - Jim Gallagher - CTS Great Saints

Padre Pio: A Holy Priest
CTS Great Saints
Jim Gallagher
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860821554
eISBN 9781784692490
ASIN B0711W35R9
CTS Booklet B669


Over the last 4 years I have reviewed over 200 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. I stumbled upon them while researching works by a specific author. And I love these books and booklets. In 2021 the CTS has rebranded many of the books and series. They are apparently moving away from a series model. The eBook edition of this still has CTS Great Saints Series but the rebranded is tagged with ‘Saints and Blesseds’. Having reached out to the CTS they have confirmed the rebranding and less of a focus on series. Which I find a pity as there are several series I am trying to finish. But all the biographies in many series have the CTS Booklet B### format. I loved the books in the CTS Great Saints Series. I have already read 16 book in this series and over 60 CTS Biographies  from the CTS, and this is the first from Jim Gallagher. I have enjoyed all of them. This volume is another excellent read, in a wonderful series! 

The description of the book is:

“Perhaps the most famous modern saint, he received the stigmata, worked miracles and selflessly served in the confessional. One of the saints whose intercession is most called upon, often with amazing effect.

Canonised on the 16th June 2002, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio, had already become one of the saints whose intercession is most called upon, often with amazing effect. Padre Pio received the stigmata, worked many miracles and is said to have often bilocated. Yet as Jim Gallagher beautifully recounts, it was for his holiness as a priest and selfless ministry in the confessional that Padre Pio will ever be remembered among the saints.”

And the chapters in this little volume are:

Introduction
Early Life
Ordination
Conscripted
Padre Pio the Confessor
Home for the Relief of Suffering
PILGRIMAGE SHRINE
The Shrine
    San Giovanni Rotondo
Further Information

I highlighted several passages during my first read of this book. Some of them are:

“In an age of multi-national business and the culture of ‘enterprise’ and ‘success’, in a time of instant satellite communication, 24-hour entertainment, space travel and new inventions, why do increasing numbers of people throughout the world, particularly young people, exhibit a fascination with and admiration for a Franciscan friar from a little village who lived and died in a remote mountain-top friary in southern Italy?”

“Padre Pio lived the Catholic priesthood day in and day out for over fifty years in a small Franciscan friary at San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy. His daily agenda was the Divine Office, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, community life with his brethren and the priestly ministry of Confession. Hour after hour, day after day he spent cooped up in the confessional. And, from near and far, the people flocked to him.”

“While Padre Pio threw himself into the discipline of the Capuchin life, and loved the study of Sacred Scripture, the Franciscan Rule, the mystical theology of St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, he was never glum or downcast. At the appointed times of community recreation when the normal Rule of Silence was lifted, he loved to laugh and joke with his fellow novices.”

“On 22nd January 1904 the 16 year-old novice made his first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. There then began a six-year period of training and preparation for ordination to the priesthood (although in the event, Pio would be ordained early by special dispensation).”

“On the morning of 10th August 1910, he set off with Don Pannullo for Benevento. There, in the Canons’ chapel of the cathedral, he was ordained by the 83 year-old archbishop. On the 15th August he returned to Pietrelcina to sing his first public Mass for the feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven.”

“Pio had prepared a little memento card. It bore the words: “A souvenir of my first Mass. Jesus, my life and my breath, today I timorously raise Thee in a mystery of love. With Thee may I be for the world the way, the truth and the life, and through Thee, a holy priest, a perfect victim.” In those words the 23 year-old priest had summed up the whole theology of the Catholic priesthood.”

“Years later, there are reports of people having confessed to him at San Giovanni Rotondo in different languages and Pio replying to them in their own tongue. This certainly happened to some American and English servicemen who visited him during the Second World War as the Allied Forces were making their way up from southern Italy to re-take Rome from the Germans.”

“The wounds were there to stay and Padre Pio would bleed from them every day and night for the next 50 years. He would be the only priest in the history of the Church to be recognised as bearing the stigmata of the wounds of Christ.”

“During his life, though, false and extravagant claims and stories were sometimes circulated by those wishing to support Padre Pio. Inversely, others made harsh judgements and sometimes false accusations. Throughout all the claims and counter-claims, Pio stuck fast to his sure lifeline; obedience to his legitimate superiors.”

“The message was clear: the Church is our Mother. We venerate her whether we understand or like what She is doing or not, in the knowledge that She wills our greatest good.”

I was unaware prior to reading this that the wounds had come to him once before and that he prayed and they were not visible. I was also well aware of several instances of bilocation. But not about his being able to hear and respond in many languages in the confessional. And this story completely surprised me:

“Once during this time, Fr Agostino decided to test Pio’s intimacy with his Guardian Angel. In September 1912 Agostino wrote him a letter entirely in Greek. Pio brought the letter along to his friend and parish priest at Pietrelcina. Before Don Pannullo could begin to translate it, Pio proceeded to tell him its meaning, word for word.

Later Don Pannullo wrote a testimony at the bottom of that letter. “I, the undersigned, testify on oath that when Padre Pio received this letter he explained its contents to me literally. When I asked him how he could read and explain it as he did not know even the Greek alphabet, he replied: ‘You know! My Guardian Angel explained it all to me.’ Signed, The Archpriest, Salvatore Pannullo.””

This is a fascinating little read. It is an excellent introduction to the saint, his life, and his ongoing influence. It is a very accessible read. It will encourage, surprise and challenge readers of all ages. An no matter what edition you track down you will be blessed by the reading of this book. 

I hope those few quotes above will inspire you to pick up this excellent volume and give it a read. It seems every time I read a book from the Catholic Truth Society I find 2 or three others I want to read. I added a few of Gallagher’s other volumes to my to be read pile, after finishing this one. I have an ever growing wish list of eBooks, books in print, and books out of print from the Catholic Truth Society I want to track down. I greatly enjoyed reading this volume. I learned several things about this Saint I was unaware of. This is another excellent read, in a great series. Like the previous volume from Gallagher this book is very well written, and leaves me wanting to find the others from this author in the series. It is another great Biography from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.


Books by Jim Gallagher:
Padre Pio: The Pierced Priest
Chiara Lubich Servant of Unity
Mother Teresa – The Life of the famous “Saint of Calcutta”
John Paul II: The Road to Sainthood
Serving the Young: Our Catholic Schools Today
Our Schools and Our Faith: A Pastoral Concern and Challenge

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin