Joan of Arc

Josephine Poole

This is a beautiful picture book, telling the story of Joan of Arc, from her childhood days to martrydom. The pictures are brilliant, captivating, and evocative. It is an oversized children's book, with the pictures covering two-thirds of the pages, and the text in the remainder. The story is told quite simply, with Joan given positive treatment. The author portrays Joan as a gentle, and yet courageous, religious young woman. Joan of Arc would be suitable for children five years of age, and up. I would highly recommend this book for any family studying the Middle Ages..

Mother Cabrini

Book cover: 'Mother Cabrini: Missionary to the World'
Frances Parkinson Keyes

The story of the great Italian missionary to the United States is told to two young students in one of the schools she founded. The story especially elaborates on the history of the schools and works founded by Mother Cabrini in New Orleans, Louisiana. A very beautiful story already, this particular rendition has the unique angle of being told by one of the Sisters of Charity who had come to America from Italy with Mother Cabrini. This would make a good read aloud story for the whole family and would be a helpful supplement to your American History curriculum.

Francis and Clare

Book cover: 'Francis and Clare: Saints of Assisi'
Helen Walker Homan

I've been reading a number of the Vision Books aloud to my five year old daughter and she seems to like each one more than the last. The story of Saint Francis is both uplifting and enjoyable, due to the many humorous events captured in the story. The book is also informative enough to be interesting to older children and even adults (I had never read a full-length book about St. Francis).

Reading Comprehension: Stories of the Saints, Vol. 3

This book has an excellent 25 page story of Edith Stein's life and death complete with many black and white photos and a comprehension question section. It is written at an upper grade school reading level, but would make excellent reading for older students and adults and could be read aloud to younger children as well. Click here to read a complete review of this book.

Saint Catherine of Siena

Book cover: 'Saint Catherine of Siena'
F.A. Forbes

Catherine was born in the year 1347 of a wealthy family in Siena, Italy. These were troubled times in her native country. The pope was living in Avignon, France, and rival Italian cities and families were constantly at war with one another. The author gives presents a rather interesting story of a rather remarkable little girl who had heavenly visions and was a light of comfort and cheer to all those who came in contact with her. As Catherine grew older she live a very pious and austere life, offering great penances to Our Lord and working to help the poor and convert sinners.

The Song of Bernadette

Book cover: 'The Song of Bernadette'

This is a beautiful, Academy Award winning movie depicting the apparitions of Our Lady to Saint Bernadette in Lourdes, France, in the mid-1800s. The depiction is accurate - based on the book of the same title by Franz Werfel - but also beautifully and powerfully produced. Jennifer Jones is the simple and unpretentious Bernadette, Vincent Price is a town magistrate who is skeptical of the apparitions and rather hostile to Bernadette. An excellent family film and one of the finest Hollywood films of a religious nature.

Bernadette, Our Lady's Little Servant

Book cover: 'Bernadette, Our Lady's Little Servant'
Hertha Pauli

In the consistent style of the Vision Series of non-fiction Catholic stories for young people, the author presents a very engaging account of the important story of Our Lady's appearnces to Bernadette Soubirous - probably the poorest and simplest child in the small town of Lourdes, France. Bernadette's beautiful devotion is inspiring and her stubborn honesty is refreshing. More important, however, is Our Lady's message and her profound effect on those who come to her out of devotion and sometimes only curiosity.

The Cure D'Ars

Book cover: 'The Cure D'Ars: St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney'
Abbe Francis Trochu

This is a fascinating and surprisingly readable (but lengthy) biography of St. John Vianney - the definitive one, carefully researched from the documents produced for the canonization process. It is most suitable for adults, but will be appropriate for teens who enjoy reading - it is particularly beneficial for young men considering the priesthood. Some of the particular stories about St. John Vianney and those whose lives he touched are absolutely amazing.

The Cure of Ars

Book cover: 'The Cure of Ars: The Priest Who Outtalked the Devil'
Milton Lomask

This is a quicker and slightly easier read than the title by Mary Fabyan Windeatt. It lacks the richness of explanations about the priesthood, but I thought that it portrayed St. John Vianney's humility and simplicity a little more clearly. It's also clearly written to be interesting even to those who are not accustomed to reading saint stories, so there is more emphasis on exciting events, such as when John Vianney, as a young boy, helped to hide a hunted priest from the authorities.

The Cure of Ars

Book cover: 'The Cure of Ars: The Story of Saint John Vianney, Patron Saint of Parish Priests'
Mary Fabyan Windeatt

Although this is a bit longer than some of the other Saint stories by the same author, my children have been enjoying this story very much as a read-aloud. The story is told in the first person - from the point of view of St. John Vianney himself. (My children have particularly enjoyed this perspective and found it a nice change from the ordinary.) The author also weaves a great deal of thoughtful commentary upon the importance and mystery of priesthood into the story as well as important concepts about the love of God and the need for prayer and penance.


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