We learn from the Bible that God's people are both faithful and human. They will die for their faith if need be, but they're also fallen and must fight sin from their conversion to their last breath. We need the stories of our ancestors in the faith, to encourage us to faithfulness and to show us how to fight the Evil One and his lies.
Richard Hannula's Trial and Triumph collects the stories of 46 individual saints for children, with easy-to-read synopses of their great victories in Christ and their very real failures. Well-known names like St. Augustine and C.S. Lewis are here, with many more obscure figures like the Roman slave girl Blandina and Renee, Duchess of Ferrara.
Controversial figures are included: Constantine and Charlemagne appear, though their faults are identified and Hannula doesn't whitewash. The book covers the Early Church to the present, ending (appropriately) with one of the great evangelists of the 20th century, Richard Wurmbrand.
Each biographical sketch is short and accessible. Many are told as stories, offering a sense of immediacy and cultural context. Trial and Triumph is surprisingly versatile—it's good as a part of family devotions, a Church history survey, or simply wholesome reading for the kids.
Its best use is probably as an introduction to Church history. Because it covers individual saints and the state of the Church throughout its life, Hannula's book offers a rare humanizing glimpse of our spiritual brothers and sisters. After all, we're united by a Blood stronger than family ties, and as we know our earthly parentage, we should know our heavenly heritage.
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Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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