A complete and unabridged reprint of the classic romance of the Church of the Catacombs which like Ben Hur and Quo Vadis - both of which it preceeded by a number of years - has stood the test of time. A facsimile edition of a compact 1854 edition of Cardinal Wiseman’s well researched tale weaving the stories of St Agnes, St Sebastian, St Tarcisius, St Pancratius together into a compelling novel. There are welcome diversions into the liturgical practice of the early Christians as well as vivid depictions of the setting in Rome around the time of the Edict of Diocletian. A few diagrams also help convey the details of this dramatic time.
A legendary book that I was overjoyed to find in an Op Shop way back in 2001 (before kids). Something about pre-natal check-ups and waiting rooms meant that I read a lot of books that year.
The book brings to life the story of Sts Agnes, Sebastian, Tarcisius and Pancratius and a few others for good measure. The author drew on his own familiarity with the Catacombs of Rome and then current research (1850s).
It has been adapted into a movie or two - an Italian silent movie from 1918 and a later Franco Italian movie from 1949.
It is also available as a free audiobook on Librivox.
And I have just made a cheap paperback reprint through Lulu. I used scans from the University of North Carolina, via the Internet Archive of an edition from 1854!
The PDF button above gives you the first 24 pages of my tidied up images to give you an idea of what this paperback edition is like.
My Op Shop copy is falling apart (and it’s only from 1962!) so I’m really looking forward to this new reprint that I can hand to my kids without worrying about losing the pages.
There were a few spin off novels - not by the same author. Callista by Cardinal Newman and I also have a book about Perpetua and Felicity called Fabiola’s Sisters. The time affects the style, so they start off feeling a tad melodramatic, but you become acclimatized after a while.
Also available as an illustrated ebook from Project Gutenberg! I helped on this book with the pgdp (Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders) which is a great cause to volunteer your free time and read random pages from old books.