The first, THE LIFE OF SAINT PATRICK, is written and illustrated by Zachary Lynch. Most of us grew up with the custom of wearing green on St. Patrick's Day and we may have even heard that St. Patrick used the clover (shamrock) to teach the people of Ireland about the Holy Trinity. But do you know the story of how sixteen-year-old Patrick arrived on the island of Hibernia (the ancient name for Ireland), left, and eventually returned as a missionary?
Lynch's gorgeous Celtic illuminations bring the story to life, and draw us into the isolated land of a pagan Irish King and his druids. St. Patrick faced many dangers, but said,
"I was not afraid of these things, because of the promise of heaven,
because I have thrown myself into God's hands,
who reigns over all things."
The second book is THE LIFE OF SAINT BRIGID, Abbess of Kildare, lovingly told by Jane G. Meyer. Again we see Zachary Lynch's captivating and colorful illustrations, full of Celtic influence.
"Brigid saw Christ in everyone she met, and had
a particular love for those less fortunate than herself."
Her father, a chieftain, becomes weary of Brigid's generosity and takes her away to be sold to a neighboring king. While the deal is being settled with the king, Brigid gives away her father's sword to a poor leper. The king, realizing that Brigid would give away his wealth as well, advises Brigid's father to release her from slavery and grant her freedom.
Brigid's prideful father yields to the plan, but tries to force her to marry - which leads Brigid to scar her own face, in order to be left alone by her family. They finally understand her desire to devote herself purely to Christ, and she is allowed to become a nun,
"...marrying Christ and His Church instead of man.
And as a sign of God's hand upon her, the scar on her cheek was healed
as the priest placed the white veil upon her head."
The rest of the story is about Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, who tends sheep and the poor, founds convents, works miracles, and visits kings. St. Brigid is known today as a patron of travelers, healers, and midwives; and a protector of flocks and herds, and newborn babies.
THE RAVENS OF FARNE, by Donna Farley, with illustrations by Heather Hayward, is a story from the life of St. Cuthbert, who lived in England in the 7th Century A.D. When he moves to the Island of Farne, he is greeted by the many birds that inhabit the island.
"The birds built nests to hold their eggs,
And the monk built a place to hold his prayers."
After St. Cuthbert plants grain and is harvesting it, the birds suddenly descend and try to steal it. The monk is surprised as he tells them:
"If God Himself has said you may, I will give you leave to eat.
But if not -
- if not, stop taking what is not yours and be off!"
You'll have to read the story to find out what happens and how the birds end up helping the Saint. To this day, it is a law on the Farne Islands that people may not hurt the birds who dwell there!