BARB OF FIRE:
Twenty Poems of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity with Selected Passages from Blessed Columba Marmion OSB
Translated by Alan Bancroft
(Gracewing, 187pp. Inquire at Catholic bookshops )
The French Carmelites produced two outstanding spiritual writers in the late 19th century: St Thérèse of Lisieux and the less well-known Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity - Elizabeth Catez, of the Carmel of Dijon in Burgundy. The latter is remembered for her beautiful spiritual poems, first published soon after her death in 1906.
Alan Bancroft, a retired lawyer whose previous works include Collected Poems of St Thérèse of Lisieux (published also by Gracewing), has translated twenty of Elizabeth of the Trinity's poems, interspersed with selections from the prose writings of Blessed Columba Marmion OSB, Abbot of Maredsous in Belgium, who died in 1923. These extracts are prefaced by an extensive, but useful introduction, that focuses particularly upon the life and thought of Elizabeth of the Trinity.
Although they wrote independently of each other, their writings reflect similar themes, in particular their intense love of God. Both authors grounded their spirituality in the mystery of the Trinity, which was not for them a dry abstract theological concept, but rather the basis of their relationship and union with God.
Barb of Fire is an excellent and accessible introduction to the thought and spirituality of these two writers, both of whom were beatified by John Paul II.
Michael E Daniel teaches at a Melbourne independent secondary school.