With Lent underway many will be looking for first communion gifts. I want to tell you about what may be a perfect gift for such an occasion. Saints: Lives and Illuminations is a beautiful book that features saints from around the world from both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was previously published as two children’s books in a larger format. Now it is a handy 5 x 7 and bound on glossy paper with full color illustrations. The introduction gives a brief history of how saints are canonized in the Catholic Church. The book covers seventy-four saints and two “blesseds” (these are people who more or less are one step away from becoming a saint). Two pages are devoted to each person. On one page is a full-color illustration and on the other page is a brief description of that person, who he/she is a patron saint for and his/her feast day. At the end of the book you have a short glossary with terms that may be unfamiliar. The reading level is for 8 and up but this would be equally suitable for an adult who has an interest in the lives of saints.
Let’s look at one example, Thomas Aquinas. Why him? Because he’s the patron saint of booksellers! Did you know his classmates nicknamed him “the dumb ox”? He was called this because of his size (apparently he was a big man) and he was quiet. Thomas was studying philosophy at the University of Paris when he was only fourteen. His wealthy family was not happy with his vow of poverty so they sent his two brothers to kidnap him. He was locked in a tower for a year but escaped with help from his sister. “His greatest work, the Summa Theologica, is the foundation of modern Catholic doctrine. Thomas was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1567.” His feast day is January 28. (p. 99)
It is a hardcover from Eerdmans publishing with 72 pages and sells for $15.99.