Today is a double review day at Stuart's Study. I'm normally not a fan of doing that, but these books are similar in many ways that it just made sense to me. The books are entitled Saint Francis of Assisi: Messenger of Peace and Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Leading the Way. Both of them are written by Toni Matas and illustrated by Picanyol. You can find them available for purchase at Pauline Books and Media.
Saint Francis of Assisi: Messenger of Peace is the life story of St. Francis in a graphic novel format. The book starts off with St. Francis' most famous prayer, "The Canticle of the Sun." I must admit that I find myself struggling with this prayer. Sometimes I like it, and other times it puzzles me. However, it wouldn't be a book about St. Francis if it didn't incorporate this prayer in there. The book then proceeds to cover his entire life from birth to death, including two key events in his life - the vision with the San Damiano Cross and his receiving of the stigmata. Lastly in this book is the Prayer for Peace, which serves as a perfect close for this book.
I really like that this book presents the whole truth of St. Francis' life. St. Francis wasn't born a saint, and this was shown by the way he lived his life before his conversion experience. This book doesn't gloss over these truths about his life, which is greatly appreciated. It also covered in detail, without being too gory, how St. Francis received the stigmata and the unusual treatment he received near the end of his life for an eye disease which afflicted him. The story flows nicely and has little headings in red text to highlight major events for your child. The illustrations are of high quality and will make this saint's story come alive for your grade school or middle school child, though older kids might like it as well.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Leading the Way presents St. Ignatius' biography in the format of a graphic novel. It begins with the Suscipe prayer, which is a prayer asking God to receive us and everything we are. The story then starts with St. Ignatius' birth and quickly jumps to his military escapades. He was an able soldier and a skilled diplomat but was injured to the point of death. Fortunately for him, St. Peter appeared to him and healed him. However, in a gruesome turn of events, one of his leg was shorter than the other, but he ordered it to be re-broken and set to the length of his other leg. It was during this recovery that St. Ignatius began to turn away from the world and toward God.
Besides learning about St. Ignatius' life, your child will also get a brief introduction to the Spanish Inquisition, discernment of spirits, Ignatian spirituality, and the founding of the Jesuits. Like it's counterpart, Saint Francis of Assisi: Messenger of Peace, this book is well-illustrated and does a fine job of making the stories of saints interesting for your young readers. It also does a fine job of showing your kids how a person's life and attitude can be changed with God's help. With the action of fighting in battles to start the story off, it will surely capture the attention of young boys.
Both of these books are worthy of the 5-star rating. As someone who grew up reading comic books and still reads them occasionally, it's cool to see the faith presented graphically. I believe it is a sure-fire way to not only get young boys attention but also keep it. Don't fret parents of girls! There are also two girls' graphic novels, which are entitled Saint Joan of Arc: Quest for Peace and Saint Bernadette: The Miracle of Lourdes. They are by a different author, but I would bet they are of equal quality and depth. Thank you to Pauline Books and Media for continuing to publish great Catholic children's books. May these books be the stepping stones for a vocation boom in the coming generation!
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