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Book review: ‘Courtship of the Saints’ by Patrick O’Hearn

Middle ranking civil servant, Catholic, 43, immaculate past, from the country, is looking for a good Catholic, pure girl  who can cook well, tackle all household chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking with a view to marriage as soon as possible.”In today’s world, of course, such an ad would be accused of being “sexist” and the man attacked viciously (verbally, at least).

Wow, this is quite an ad .   From a dating website?  No, this ad dates from the 1920’s and was placed in the German Newspaper Bild am Sonntag (BamS) by Joseph Ratzzinger, Sr. It was the second of two ads…the first being earlier with no mention of being a mid-level civil servant.  The newspaper ad was answered by a young womand named Maria, who had to postphone marriage for some time due to family considerations.  Both married late in life for those times.  As you might have already guessed, of the three children that resulted from this holy couple, one of them went on to become Pope Benedict XVI.


This book covers many courtships, from early saints in the both the old and new Testaments of the Bible (Saints Anne and Joachim, or Saints Joseph and Mary, for example) up through Emperors such as Karl of Austria and his wife Zita, who are now Blesseds, the pathway to sainthood. Some of these couples you will have heard of, and some may surprise you, since their story is not well known.  We won’t spoil it for you, but their stories are compelling as well as inspirational.

The term courtship may seem out of date today, but it still

My only criticism of the book is the title, since “courtship of the Saints” is not applicable to all those mentioned in the book.  No doubt all these couples were saintly in many ways, but not all have been given that title.  Still, that is a minor thing….the fact is, this book gives us a fascinating way in which God works to bring couples together….and on the path to sainthood.  As pointed out by the author, marriage is a form of martyrdom:  a denial of self for another.  Not easy…and perhaps it was never meant to be.

About the Author:

Patrick O’Hearn is an acquisitions editor at TAN Books. He has writen several books in addition to “Courtship of the Saints”, including ‘The Shepherd at the Crib and the Cross’.

Check out all the great TAN books here.

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Book Review: ” A Catholic Pilgrimage through American History” by Kevin Schmiesing

A Catholic pilgrimage through American History by Kevin Schmiesing

Most history books dwell on the Protestant history of the U.S. from the Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock to the founding fathers, almost all of whom were Protestant.  But there is a rich Catholic history as well, and when you finished this “pilgrimage” you will see how much there is that you may not have known.

We found it to be an interesting and well-written addition to our library…better written than this review, perhaps.  As previously stated, it is a history book….not necessarily a guide book in the traditional sense….but the wealth of information contained in the 288 pages of this book will help you appreciate the significance of of the sites that you visit…whether in person or as an armchair traveler. For example, to visit Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is an awesome experience, but it becomes even more meaningful when you read the fascinating history contained in Kevin Schmiesing’s book.

The author has been meticulous  in his research, citing hundreds of sources for the book.

Well written and packed with information, we could not find much to room for improvement.  We were rather surprised that the author paid so little attention to Texas (other than two places mentioned):  after all, what many consider the oldest Cathedral in the U.S. is San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, completed in 1731  (Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine in Saint Augustine, Florida claims to be the first, but was not was completed until 1793). And there are 4 Spanish Missions still in San Antonio (all are active Parishes) as well as two national shrines that would have made a useful addition to the book.  You can find out more about the Catholic sites in San Antonio on our web page here.

Other than that small criticism…and we realize that the author could not possibly cover every Catholic site…we find the book to be enjoyable and informative, packed with interesting information about the rich Catholic history of the United States.

About the Book:

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ave Maria Press (April 8, 2022)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1646800907
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1646800902

About the author:

Kevin Schmiesing lectures on Church history for Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology in Cincinnati, Ohio, and serves as director of research at the Freedom and Virtue Institute. He served as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty from 1999 to 2020.

Schmiesing is co-host of the podcast Catholic History Trek on Spotify and YouTube and has contributed to Catholic World Report and Crisis magazine. He is the author of Merchants and Ministers and Within the Market Strife and editor of One and Indivisible, Catholicism and Historical Narrative, and The Spirit Matters.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a doctorate in United States history from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kevin Schmiesing and his wife, Anne, have seven children and live near Dayton, Ohio.



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Book Review: “Our Lady’s Miracles, A Traveler’s Guide to Catholic America” by Marion Amberg

Mary's Miracles A Traveler's guide to the Catholic Church in America by Marion AmbergYou’re reading this on a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or some perhaps even a cell phone.  We hope you get the information you are looking for.  But sometimes it’s nice to have something in your hand that does not require internet access…such as the book we recommend here. Yes…people still do read guide books!  In fact, so do we.

“Mary’s Miracles, A Catholic’s guide to Catholic  America”, by Marion Amberg, is probably the most comprehensive guide we have ever seen dedicated to the many Catholic shrines devoted to the Blessed Mother in the U.S.A.  In fact, although we pride ourselves on covering almost all the Shrines here in the U.S.A., we have to admit that this book covers some of which we were not aware (we will be adding them soon!).

Broken down by geographic regions (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Mountain West, Southwest, Pacific West) it provides a history, description and photos of some of the most interesting places for Catholics to visit.

This, in itself, would make this a must-have book for Catholics (whether armchair travelers or those actually hitting the road).

But in addition to that valuable information, what sets this apart even further from other guide books is that after most description of a shrine or church, is a section called “Signs and Wonders”.  Here the author details certain events that related to that particular shrine.

Mary’s Miracles: A Traveler’s Guide to Catholic America is available from OSV Publsihing (osvcatholicbookstore.com) and online booksellers and at Catholic bookstores and gift shops.

About Marion Amberg:

Marion Amberg is an award-winning journalist and book author specializing in Faith Travel.

She has written for more than 100 publications, ranging from Catholic Digest to Family Motor Coaching to Texas Highways. She has also authored two books and is working on her third.

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Book Review: “Blessed Carlo Acutis The Amazing Discovery of a Teenager in Heaven”

Written by Sabrina Arena Ferris, foreword by Patrick Novecosky

Published by Holy Heroes


Having heard a bit about Carlo Acutis, I was excited to get a copy of this book, and was not disappointed.  One of the most amazing stories of young people of the late 20th century is that of Carlo Acutis. From a young age he showed devotion to the Eucharist and was a true Christian example to others..especially those of his age.

We live in a time where many parents (and us grandparents as well) are starved for good role models for teenagers.  The fact that Carlo Acutis was a computer geek and gamer makes him highly relatable to today’s young people.  He led a normal, happy life, and this book offers glimpses in to his life from a young age, with quotes from his parents and friends.   Many photos which add a lot to the story of his life.

Especially interesting was the role his Polish Nanny played in his life…something I was not aware of before.  His parents were nominal Catholics, but rarely went to Mass. Her role influencing young Carlo especially significant.

There is a section in the book with quotes from Carlo that I found very interesting.

And, of course, due to his devotion to the Eucharist he left a lasting legacy: compiling a list of Eucharistic Miracles around the world.  This takes on special meaning in our time when surveys seem to indicate that belief in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic is extremely low among Roman Catholics.  Not only has this list been put on a website, but there is a traveling exhibit going to many churches around the world.

The publisher, “Holy Heroes” is to be complimented for adding this to their great list of book designed to deepen the understanding of the Catholic faith in young people…or people of all ages, since I am hardly young but enjoyed it immensely.

What I liked about the book:

  • Very well written, easy to understand, and will be a great read for all ages pre-teen and up.
  • Motivational: brought young Carlo and his devotion to the Eucharist to life.
  • Lots of photographs: we live in a visual age and photos of Carlo and his family added  to the book.
  • Quotes by Carlo that help to see his spirituality and the life that he lived.
  • Has nothing to do with the writing, but I liked the small size of the book…easy to put in a pocket or purse and, in  my case, great to take along to Adoration.  What better place to read about Carlo Acutis and his devotion to the Eucharist?


What I didn’t like about the book:

  • Hard to find anything not to like about this book. Only one thing, really, and that has nothing to do with the way the book was written.  The book starts off with information about the process of becoming a saint.  Considering that this is a book about the life of Carlo Acutis, I don’t know why the editor or publisher chose to put this at the beginning of the book. The second-to-last section of the book is “What comes next?”….and that would seem the most logical place to put the information about becoming a saint. And that would flow in to the final section on the process of  Carlo Acutis becoming a saint, which I think this was a great addition to the book, since it allows the reader a blueprint of the process as it relates to Carlo.


I give it 5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book and would say this comes under the category of a “must read” for people of all ages, but especially teenagers and probably pre-teens as well.  It is an easy read, packed with information and highly inspirational.  Great to add to your summer reading list.

You can order this book and other great books directly from the publisher at Holy Heroes.com.  Use the discount code CARLO15 that will give you 15% off this new book plus any additional Blessed Carlo resources.


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Book Review …. “Come and See: A Catholic Guide to the Holy Land”

Come and See A Catholic guide to the Holy LandA gem of a guide book written from the perspective of a Catholic priest’s own travels in the Holy Land. Originally for seminarians, it is really for everyone……layperson or religious.

Loaded with photos, diagrams, Biblical references and spiritual insights, it delves deeper than most guidebooks, incorporating many footnotes and references in addition to the author’s own reflections.

Each Biblical site is organized according to the scriptural background; archaeological history; issues, such as varying Biblical interpretations; and finally (we think this is where it really shines), points for reflection as to how these places might relate to your own spiritual life.

Whether you are an armchair traveler or planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, this book is a must. We suggest you read it before you leave for the Holy Land.   Grab a cup of coffee, your Bible and mentally take yourself to those places.

Carry it with you on your pilgrimage: the durable cover will stand up to heavy travel, and its compact size makes it convenient to carry around.   While you are in the Holy Land, it would be useful to read each days’ itinerary before hand: perhaps on the bus, between stops, or at night in your hotel room.

You will want to hang on to this book after your trip as well to relive the experience over and over again.

If it is lacking anything, from our point of view, we wish it had an index. That would make it a bit easier to use when looking for a particular site.

Overall, this is without a doubt the most spiritually rewarding Holy Land Guide book that we have found.

You can order this book here through St. Paul Center and Emmaus Road Publishing

About the author:

Fr. Charles K. Samson is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a License in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, during which time he studied language, history, and archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A doctoral candidate in the Biblical Theology department of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Fr. Samson helps lead the Holy Land Retreat and Pilgrimage of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.