Thursday 16 February 2023

Hugh O'Flaherty The Irish Priest Who Resisted the Nazis - Fiorella De Maria and Christopher J. Pelicano - Vision Books

Hugh O'Flaherty: 
The Irish Priest Who Resisted the Nazis
Christopher J. Pelicano (Illustrator)
ISBN 9781621645788
eISBN 9781642292312

As I have stated before I have read nearly all the books written by Fiorella de Maria, I absolutely love her fiction but the three biographies of saints she has written are amazing. Her hagiography is very well done. This book is part of the Vision Books Biographies now published by Ignatius Press. And it part of Ignatius’s expansion upon the original titles called New Vision Books. It is the six in the series currently in print that I have read, and I have read a few of the older out of print volumes. I did some research on the Vision Books for Young Readers and from the books I have read can state that they are great reads for teens, young adults and adults. This was another excellent read and I understand that Ignatius has several other titles in the work to expand the series. But back to this volume. The description of the book is:

“Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty was working in the Vatican when dictator Benito Mussolini fell from power and Germany invaded Italy in 1943. This courageous Irish priest who resisted the Nazi occupation was made famous by the movie, The Scarlet and the Black, starring Gregory Peck. The Monsignor O'Flaherty brought to life in this story is as intriguing and exciting as the film version.

Witty, brilliant, and fearless, Monsignor O'Flaherty helped escaped Allied prisoners of war and persecuted Jews to elude capture by the Germans. At great risk to themselves, Monsignor O'Flaherty and his equally brave friends--priests, nuns, and lay men and women, including a few aristocrats--saved thousands of lives. They constantly needed to stay one step ahead of the ever-persistent Nazis until their surrender to the Allies in 1945.

This is the 35th title in the acclaimed Vision Books series on saints and heroes for youth. Not just a thrilling adventure story, this book offers a portal into a real-life battle between good and evil. It also tells of the need after a war for forgiveness and redemption.”

And the author bio states:

“Fiorella De Maria, an Anglo-Maltese writer living in Surrey, England, studied English Literature at the University of Cambridge. A winner of the National Book Prize of Malta, she has published eight other books with Ignatius Press, including A Most Dangerous Innocence, We'll Never Tell Them, and the Father Gabriel Mystery series.”

The chapters in the book are:

 1. Winter 1943: Cat and Mouse 
 2. A Seminarian in a Troubled Land—1918 
 3. Life in the Eternal City 
 4. War Comes To Italy 
 5. A Tyrant Falls, and Rome Is Invaded 
 6. An Aristocrat and an English Butler 
 7. An English Pow Joins the Team 
 8. A Maltese Widow and a Hunted Princess 
 9. The Germans Target O’Flaherty 
10. The Race to Hide God’s Chosen 
11. A Kidnapping in Broad Daylight 
12. Traitors and Collaborators 
13. God’s Secret Agent? 
14. Italy’s Darkest Hour 
15. Breaking Point 
16. Dutchpa Is Sent to Hell and Back 
17. An Angel of Mercy for the Enemy 
18. A Prophet without Honor 
19. Kappler’s Conversion 
20. A Final Prayer 

I have previously read about Hugh O'Flaherty, in passing, and have a couple of other books about him in my ‘to be read’ pile. But when this released it jumped to first in my queue both because of the author and the series, and it did not disappoint. I could hardly put it down, devoured it in three sittings over 2 days. This story is an amazing example of faith and service, of learning to follow God, and of loving our enemies. The work he did during and after the war was amazing. He lived with great personal risk, and risked all for helping to save others. 

De Maria has written this life in a masterful way, readers will be hooked very early on. It is an absolute page turner. And de Maria slipped in references to Malta, like we encounter in many of her fictional works. There are several illustrations by Christopher J. Pelicano that adds to the story, there is one at the beginning of each chapter. The illustrations appear to be pen and ink sketches. The only think I would have loved to see would be information about his possible cause, and a Prayer for that cause or to his intercession would have made the book perfect. 

I plan on reading all the books in this series that are in print and as many of the out of print that I can track down. I returned to this series because I had finished the 38 books in the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media. Those books are geared for a younger audience, and these are written for older readers and go deeper into the subject matters of each volume. This is another excellent book in a wonderful series. My only complaint is that only about a third of the books are available in digital formats, with my dual form of dyslexia and my son’s eye tracking issues eBooks are our preferred format. Fortunately I was able to pick up the eBook of this one a few weeks after the print edition was released. These books are written for a Middle Grade or Teens in mind, but this one and the others I have read are excellent volumes for readers of all ages. A well written biography of an amazing Saint, I can easily recommend this book. And keep your eyes out for future books from the pen of Fiorella. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books in the Vision Books Saints Biographies:
Bernadette, Our Lady's Little Servant 
The Cure of Ars 
Edmund Campion 
Florence Nightingale's Nuns 
Fr. Marquette and the Great Rivers 
Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi 
Kateri Tekakwitha 
Mother Cabrini, Missionary to the World 
Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity 
Saint Anthony and the Christ Child 
Saint Benedict 
Saint Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal 
Saint Dominic and the Rosary 
Saint Elizabeth's Three Crowns 
Saint Francis of the Seven Seas 
Saint Helena and the True Cross 
Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus 
Saint Isaac and the Indians 
Saint John Bosco 
Saint Katherine Drexel 
Saint Louis and the Last Crusade 
Saint Philip of the Joyous Heart 
Saint Therese and the Roses 
Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars 
Saint Thomas More of London 
Vincent De Paul: Saint of Charity 

Out of Print books in the Series:
Brother Andre of Montreal 
Catholic Campuses, Stories of American Catholic Colleges 
Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Children Welcome: Villages for Boys and Girls 
Christmas and the Saints 
Columbus and the New World 
Dear Philippine: Mission of Mother Duchesne 
Edel Quinn: Beneath the Southern Cross 
Frances Warde and the First Sisters of Mercy 
Good Pope John b
Governor Al Smith 
In American Vineyards, Religious Orders in the United States 
Irish Saints 
John Carroll Bishop and Patriot
John Neumann, The Children's Bishop 
Kit Carson of the Old West 
Lydia Longley, the First American Nun 
Marguerite Bourgeoys, Pioneer Teacher 
Martin de Porres, Saint of the New World 
Modern Crusaders 
More Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Mother Barat's Vineyard 
My Eskimos: A Priest in the Artic 
Peter and Paul: The Rock and the Sword 
Peter Claver, Saint Among Slaves
Pope Pius XII, the World's Shepherd 
Rose Hawthorne: The Pilgramage of Nathaniel's Daughter 
Saints of the Byzantine World 
Sarah Peter: The Dream and the Harvest 
St. Augustine and His Search for Faith 
St. Francis de Sales 
St. Gregory the Great, Consul of God 
St. Jerome and the Bible 
St. Margaret Mary, Apostle of the Sacred Heart 
The Bible Story, The Promised Lord and His Coming 
The Cross in the West 
The Ursulines, Nuns of Adventure 
When Saints Were Young 

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