In God’s Garden is a free collection of saints’ stories written by Amy Steedman. I am reading the stories to Sophie (11) and Gemma-Rose (8) and they love them. The fairy-tale style of writing appeals to them very much.
Here is part of the introduction to the book:
There is a garden which God has planted for Himself, more beautiful than any earthly garden. The flowers that bloom there are the white souls of His saints, who have kept themselves pure and unspotted from the world.
In God’s garden there is every kind of flower, each differing from the other in beauty. Some are tall and stately like the lilies, growing where all may see them in their dress of white and gold; some are half concealed like the violets, and known only by the fragrance of kind deeds and gentle words which have helped to sweeten the lives of others; while some, again, are hidden from all earthly eyes, and only God knows their loveliness and beholds the secret places where they grow. But known or unknown, all have risen above the dark earth, looking ever upward; and, although often bent and beaten down by many a cruel storm of temptation and sin, they have ever raised their heads again, turning their faces towards God; until at last they have been crowned with the perfect flower of holiness, and now blossom for ever in the Heavenly Garden.
In this book you will not find the stories of all God’s saints. I have gathered a few together, just as one gathers a little posy from a garden full of roses. But the stories I have chosen to tell are those that I hope children will love best to hear…
Within Amy Steedman’s posy are the stories of 14 saints including Saints Christopher, Benedict, Catherine of Siena, Cecelia and Augustine.
The book opens with the story of St Ursula:
Once upon a time in the land of Brittany there lived a good king, whose name was Theonotus. He had married a princess who was as good as she was beautiful, and they had one little daughter, whom they called Ursula.
It was a very happy and prosperous country over which Theonotus ruled, for he was a Christian, and governed both wisely and well, and nowhere was happiness more certain to be found than in the royal palace where the king and queen and little Princess Ursula lived.
All went merrily until Ursula was fifteen years old, and then a great trouble came, for the queen, her mother, died. The poor king was heart-broken, and for a long time even Ursula could not comfort him. But with patient tenderness she tried to do for him all that her mother had done, and gradually he began to feel that he still had something to live for…
Sophie and Gemma-Rose were captivated by the story from the very first sentence. As I was reading, I imagined the story being made into a film like Tangled. It has all the right ingredients: a beautiful princess, a handsome loving prince, three conditions the prince must agree to before the princess will marry him, thousands of beautiful handmaidens, a barbarous evil enemy… I thought of the costumes, the colour and the music that could accompany this fairy-tale saint’s story.
As I continued reading, I soon realised why Disney will never make a movie of St Ursula’s life. Her story, despite so many fairy-tale ingredients, does not have the proper and necessary ending. There are no wedding bells, no congratulations, no happy-ever-after… unless of course you are viewing the story through Catholic eyes.
We got to the end of the chapter and Gemma-Rose sighed, “That was so sad! But it was so beautiful as well.” Yes, the story does in fact have a happy-forever ending even if the Disney producers wouldn’t be able to see it. Our Catholic children will understand.
In God’s Garden can be downloaded free from the Gutenberg website. It can also be read online at The Heritage History site, where it is also possible to purchase e-versions. It can also be bought from Amazon as a paperback book.