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Laura Range shares a new children’s book about a princess every girl can look up to: the early Greek martyr Saint Philomena. 

When discussing children's literature and whether or not to allow certain elements of good versus evil that could frighten children, C. S. Lewis remarked,

Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.


As we raise our children in a world that seems to be becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity and morality, I see so much wisdom in this. Though my mama-heart certainly doesn't want to think of my children encountering cruel enemies, I do want them to have the courage and virtue to respond bravely and faithfully to the battles that will inevitably come to them throughout life. The saints and martyrs are great examples of this "heroic courage" and their stories teach our children that there is nothing more valuable than their eternal souls and their belief in Jesus Christ and His Church. 

In every age, there is a spiritual battle for holiness and virtue, both in the world and within the soul. By introducing our children to the saints—particularly the martyrs when age-appropriate—we give them courageous examples of living for Christ no matter the cost.  


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St. Philomena (whose feast day was just celebrated this month on August 11th!) is a very early Christian martyr, a young Greek princess. Her remains were discovered in the 1800's and her life story was told in a vision to a nun shortly after the discovery. Miracle after miracle was attributed to St. Philomena's intercession, and many popes and saints were devoted to her, including St. John Vianney and Pope Gregory XVI. When my own daughter was scheduled for a brain MRI a couple years ago, we asked St. Philomena's intercession and my daughter not only was able to have the MRI without any sedation (almost unheard of at her age), but the results came back completely normal.  


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 In a new book, My Name is Philomena: A Saint's Story, both written and illustrated by the talented Fr. Peregrine Fletcher, O. Praem., St. Philomena's story is told in a poetic first-person narrative. Having chosen this saint as my Confirmation name and having a special devotion to her, I was delighted to receive and review this book so that others can come to know her too. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. My children like to sit on the couch and just look at the book. The first-person narration is very powerful and touching as you learn about this young saint's love for Jesus and her courage in the midst of evil.

Both my 7-year-old and 5-year-old listened attentively and asked questions if they didn't understand the sometimes intricate yet beautiful rhyme. Though Philomena's torture and death are somewhat brutal (drowning attempts, bows and arrows, eventually killed with a lance), the book dealt with the details in a grace-filled manner that I thought was very appropriate for my children's ages. They understood she bravely suffered and died for Jesus but their focus was directed to the ways she was comforted in the midst of her suffering and the hope of her ultimate reward in heaven with her Savior. I loved the ending about this virgin being united to her ultimate Lover, our Lord, in His arms forever after her martyrdom.  




If you are looking for a book for a princess-loving daughter or granddaughter, I highly recommend choosing this book (although my son loved it too!)! Rather than focusing on frills and shallow pleasures, this book will teach them about a true princess with virtue and courage and strength, a princess who knew that the greatest Kingdom is our eternal home in Heaven. 

Ask for My Name is Philomena at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, TAN Books.



Copyright 2023 Laura Range
Images: Illustrations from My Name is Philomena copyright 2023 TAN Books, all rights reserved; all others Canva