ST JOHN BOSCO
(Ignatius Press, 1992, 157pp, $19.95)
ST DOMINIC AND THE ROSARY
(Ignatius Press, 1996, 161pp, $19.95)
by Catherine Beebe
ST THERESE AND THE ROSES
(Ignatius Press, 1995, 149pp, $19.95.)
by Helen Walker Homan
All titles available from Freedom Publishing
Catherine Beebe's books demonstrate a keen insight into the minds of saints and an ability to relate them to young people. The first title, a fascinating story of St John Bosco, the apostle of youth, will appeal to young audiences with his humour, wit, courage, and skill.
Pope Pius XI canonised John Bosco in 1934, and this book details how a shepherd boy from rural Italy became a beacon of hope for youth across the world.
John Bosco was born on August 16, 1815 in Becchi, Castlenuova, Italy. His father, a farmer, died when John was only two years old, and the heavy task fell to John, his older brother Joseph and stepbrother Anthony of helping their mother take care of the farm. From a young age John entertains other boys with his acrobatic and magic shows, charging a prayer for admission!
Forced to leave home due to his jealous stepbrother, John worked as a tailor, baker, shoemaker, tutor, and carpenter to pay his way through college and the seminary. For most of this book Beebe focuses on John Bosco's love for the poor boys of Turin whom he brought together at weekly meetings to teach them about the faith. Don Bosco, as he was known as a priest, constantly strove to make saints out of his boys.
Beebe also tells the story of St Dominic Savio, one of Don Bosco's pupils, often referred to as the classroom or children's saint, with his courageous pledge ‘Death, but not sin.’ He is a wonderful example for all children with his honesty, piety and love of the Blessed Virgin Mary - virtues that shone under the nurturing care of Don Bosco.
John Bosco's zeal shines throughout this book inspiring us to believe in his vision of a better, more just world.
St Dominic and the Rosary is a fascinating book about a life of excitement and adventure. St Dominic de Guzman became renowned as the great preacher and advocate of the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was canonised in 1234 by Gregory IX, only thirteen years after his death.
Dominic was born of wealthy Spanish nobility in 1170. Before his birth his mother dreamed of a dog that carried a torch in his mouth. The torch's flame was so bright it gave light to the whole world. On the day of Dominic's baptism his godmother was amazed to see a star shining on his forehead. His parents were sure God had chosen little Dominic for a great work. As a young man his adventures turn from offering himself as a ransom to the Moors to a king's cavalcade with an offer of marriage to a princess!
Dominic's great desire was to convert heretics back to the true faith - a long and difficult task. How- ever, as Beebe emphasises, his great calling was to spread devotion to the Rosary.
This book is a thrilling true story, combining the resolute spirit of a saint, his striking personality and gripping adventures.
St Thérse of Lisieux
St Thérse of Lisieux, the impulsive, saintly child of a middle- class French family, is charmingly portrayed in a book focusing on her youth and family. Thérse Martin was canonised in 1925 by Pius XI and declared a Doctor of the Church by John Paul II in 1997. This book details her rise to become one of the most beloved saints of modern times. Homan' words bring to life Thérse's loving family and intriguing childhood.
The story starts in 1875 when Thérse is two years old. Homan introduces us to her father, a skilled watchmaker and jeweller, and her mother, one of the finest lace-makers in France. The Martin household comes alive in the entertaining pages, including the motherly maid Louise and Therese's older sisters.
But tragedy soon strikes the happy home with her mother dying of cancer when Thérse is only four years old. Her father, heartbroken, decides to move to the nearby town of Lisieux, where the new maid Victoire, Thérse's best friend Marie Guerin, and Thérse's white spaniel Tom entertain us. There is never a dull moment.
A crucial point in her childhood occurs with her miraculous cure from a near-fatal illness when she believes a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary smiled at her: ‘a smile whose sweetness Thérse was to remember all the days of her life.’ Around this time she decides to enter the enclosed Carmelite Convent where her sister Pauline is already a nun. Thérse's appeals to the prioress, the stern superior, the bishop, and even Leo XIII seem to go unheeded. Yet she is confident that one day she will fulfil God's will behind the high walls of the Carmel of Lisieux.
This book is not only a heart- warming account of family life but also the story of a child destined to be a saint. Thérse's childlike trust and love of God, along with her touching insights, have a wide appeal, but especially for girls in the eight to sixteen age range. It is a book that should be treasured by young people as a authentic encounter with a little saint.