Saints have always been a fascinating subject and these three books contribute well to the topic. They offer new insights and good writing in differing but interesting ways.
Brian O'Neel draws the readers' attention to saints who have dropped off the radar. In "Saint Who? 39 Holy Unknowns," he continues with his work on educating people to some holy lives. He previously wrote "39 New Saints You Should Know." This book focuses on many "older" saints who are not household names.
He uses a witty and conversational style to talk about them. And he tries to pique the readers' interest with catchy phrases by calling Blessed Sebastian de Aparicio "the first cowboy," and St. Mary Helen MacKillop "the excommunicated saint."
Each saintly profile features a biography and a section about why each saint deserves our attention and devotion. The brief chapter then ends with a prayer.
This book would be an ideal addition to a classroom, discussion group or home. A profile a week or a day would bring home the message quite well.
Kevin Vost's book, "Three Irish Saints," focuses on Sts. Kevin of Glendalough, Patrick of Ireland and Brigid of Kildare. It also includes brief biographies of a variety of interesting and probably unknown Irish saints.
The book offers biographical information on Sts. Kevin, Patrick and Brigid. However, the author uses their lives as a springboard for a discussion of spirituality. He notes that their lives reflect a contemplative, apostolic and charitable style. The reader can peruse the book to figure out which saint applies to what label.
Vost notes that each style translates into being a thinker, doer or lover. It is an interesting way to apply the lives of the saints to one's own life.
The book also brings attention to saints who usually don't get a lot of press. Vost also has written a book about St. Albert the Great and the author penned his personal story on his return to Catholicism.
The book offers a lot of information for readers and could lend itself well to a book club.
Father Michael Plekon's "Saints As They Are" is a continuation of his writing on saints and holiness. The book also includes some autobiographical material from the author's life as a Carmelite seminarian and brother and now as an Orthodox priest. He stresses that saints do not have to be super-holy or without failings in order to lead a good life.
It would have been nice if the book had a listing of the "saints" in the book.
Also, some of the saints are not well known so that may be of interest to some readers. It certainly delves into new material and reveals the spirituality of saintliness in "ordinary" lives.
The mixing of the personal story and profiles works enough, but the author's story is more interesting. He has a good voice and would have been better served, perhaps, just writing about his own journey.