History Early Church - Martyrs

Early Women Martyrs of the Church: Coloring book

Book cover: 'Early Women Martyrs of the Church: Coloring book'
Author(s): 
Katie Elizabeth Roll
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Portraits of 12 saints--from St. Philomena to St. Lucy--are portrayed in large ready-to-color illustrations alongside a brief description of the martyr. This 8 1/2" x 11" coloring book has a soft cover and staple binding making it easy to lay open for coloring. The saints are depicted with the common symbols telling about their life and death and the descriptions are simple and short enough that they can be enjoyed by a child as young as 5 or 6 years old. This coloring book would be a nice introduction to the early church and saint symbols for a young child or as a supplement to a history course for children up to age 10 or 12.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Fabiola, or the Church of the Catacombs

Book cover: 'Fabiola, or the Church of the Catacombs'
Author(s): 
His Eminence Cardinal Wiseman
Copyright: 
1997
Publisher: 
Lepanto Press
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
616 pages
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Late in the third century, under the rule of the barbarian Diocletian, began the last and one of the most severe persecutions of Christians in early church history. During this time Sts. Sebastian, Agnes, and Tarcisius, among many others, won the martyr's crown. This book gives an account of their witness.

Fabiola is a Roman lady, a "noble pagan" of intelligence, virtue and spirit, who like many Romans of the time has heard nothing but false, vile reports of Christian beliefs and practices. At the same time she can't help contrasting the behavior of her young cousin, Agnes, her friend Sebastian, and her slave Syra with the corrupt brutality so rampant in pagan society. Without knowing that they are Christians, she senses that they are in light while she is still in darkness.

While Fabiola and her journey towards conversion is the focal point of the book, there are as many turns and side passages in the plot as there are in the catacombs. There is a subplot concerning an immature Christian who falls into apostasy and betrays his friends - but repents and is restored to grace. Another subplot concerns a martyr's son who longs to follow in his father's footsteps. A chapter is devoted to explaining the purpose of the catacombs and how the inscriptions came to be written within them. There is a lot to be learned from this book about an important time in Christian history. The descriptions of the martyrs' deaths are realistic, and because of this, and the length and ornate style of the book, it might be best read by teenagers and adults.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Originally published in the late 19th century, reprinted by Lepanto Press

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Saint Paul the Apostle

Book cover: 'Saint Paul the Apostle'
Author(s): 
Mary Fabyan Windeatt
Copyright: 
1949
Publisher: 
TAN Books and Publishers
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
231 pages
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Saul was a devout Jew so zealous about the Law that he persecuted the followers of the Nazarene with a vengeance. Through God's miraculous intervention Saul discovers that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and longs to proclaim and exhort that which he has formerly persecuted and abhored. There are many obstacles to overcome. The Christians have a difficult time trusting him and are focused on differences with the Jews, whereas Paul is eager to proclaim the Gospel to everyone. As he travels all over the Mediterranean, he is impeded by shipwreck and many who hate him. He fled communities in secret and on at least once occasion barely escaped with his life.

The short chapters are nice for beginning readers and for busy moms trying to read the story aloud a little at a time.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
5-13-2000
Reviewed by: 

The Story of Saint Perpetua

Author(s): 
Mike Aquilina (script consultant)
Copyright: 
2009
Publisher: 
Christian History Institute
Series: 
Catholic Heroes of the Faith
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This short animated film (32 minutes) tells the story of Saint Perpetua and her companions, who were martyred in Carthage, in North Africa, in the year 203. The animation is good, the best of any Catholic animated films I've seen, though not reaching the quality of The Prince of Egypt. The storyline, however, is quite rich and historically detailed and skillfully brings to life the sorrows and fears, hopes and joys, present in the life and struggles of these martyrs, and the early Church in general. In particular, the concept that those awaiting martyrdom might fear pain, but do not fear death, is very helpful and hopeful!

The story is quite dramatic and might be difficult for more sensitive children, though the producers have skillfully avoided gore or some details that are unnecessary for children. In fact, for many children it might be a good introduction to the idea of martyrdom. The comic relief, provided by the devout pagan jailer (a real-life character who ends up converting and tells Perpetua's story to others!) and his attempts to communicate with his "gods", helps draw children into the story as well. My younger children (ages 5-11) have been entranced by this story and have consequently developed a real devotion to Saints Felicity and Perpetua thanks to this film.

I do recommend previewing the movie first before sharing it with younger or more sensitive children.

Mike Aquilina, a pre-eminent Catholic author and speaker on the Fathers of the Church (and a homeschool dad of six!) served as script consultant for this video.

The same company has also produced a 55 minute documentary entitled The Passion of Saint Perpetua: Martyr of the Faith which is also quite good and includes detailed commentary from Mike Aquilina. Although it has some content that is a little more mature than that found in the video, on the whole it's surprisingly family-friendly and is quite moving!

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

This animated DVD was donated for review by Catholic Heroes of the Faith. We were able to rent "The Passion of Saint Perpetua: Martyr of the Faith" through Amazon.com for a very reasonable fee.

Review Date: 
10-29-2009
Reviewed by: