A Book of Saints and Heroes, Heroines, by Joanna Bogle

A Book of Saints and Heroes, Heroines, by Joanna Bogle

Val Prendergast

by Joanna Bogle
(Gracewing/Freedom Publishing, 2013, $19.95 each. ISBN: 978-1-78182-991-2 and 992-9)

It is a blessing that in this Year of Faith, there are so many good books available from Freedom Publishing to help us read about and enrich our faith. And these two offerings on saints and heroes/heroines from Joanna Bogle, a renowned English Catholic author, broadcaster, journalist and Dame of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great, are no exception.

Although each biography is merely a thumbnail sketch of a particular person, the lack of detail isn't an issue for in her usual engaging and erudite fashion, Joanna not only provides the basic biographical facts, but also manages to inspire the reader through these role models who trusted in God and let Him work through them to produce amazing results.


Perhaps her brevity is in fact beneficial, because the reader is given a sample of each holy person and will then, like this reviewer, be motivated to read more from other sources.

For example, I would definitely want to investigate the life of St Birgitta of Sweden who, as well as her work with the poor, also had visions of Our Lord. As Joanna writes, her vision of Jesus as a tiny baby surrounded by light, with angels singing and his mother kneeling beside Him, has influenced the artwork on our Christmas cards.

And there are many others: St Thomas More, saint of the English Reformation, the 'other' St Augustine, missionary to Kent in England, along with a large concentration of holy men and women from the 20th and the 21st centuries, such as Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Father Pino who was martyred by the Mafia, and the Blessed Martyrs of Drina, nuns who were martyred because of their refusal to abandon their vows of chastity.

Even our own St Mary MacKillop is presented.

Joanna has divided her biographies between two books: essentially a 'boy' book – A Book of Saints and Heroes and a 'girl' book – A Book of Saints and Heroines.

This distinction would appeal to the young as would the use of the word heroes and heroines: they are thrilling words and these biographies are indeed testaments to the thrilling God-centred lives that should inspire. With this in mind, Joanna puts the question in A Book of Saints and Heroes: "Who will be the saints and heroes of the years to come?"

Joanna was recently brought to Australia by Freedom Publishing and spoke at functions in Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Melbourne and Perth.

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