When I agreed to review “The Pilgrim” I was actually unaware of its subject. My past experience with Davis Bunn’s novels is that I can expect them to hold my interest and to be very well researched. I have read so many of them that I do not hesitate when a new one is released. I grew up in a small, southern, rural community where almost everyone went to a Protestant church – usually Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian so I had very little knowledge of the Catholic faith. I went into this book with absolutely no clue about Empress Helena and very limited memory about her son Constantine, but I am so thankful I had the opportunity to get to know her through its pages.
What a lady! I can only wish that my faith and determination to live it could be even a fraction of the amount of faith Helena possessed. Her pilgrimage to Jerusalem and her firm belief in the vision she received from God were inspirational. Her strength and love motivated an ever-growing group of pilgrims whose faith grew as a result. I couldn’t help but think how different our world today might be if Christians worked together in the same way and were an example to those who were yet to believe.
“The Pilgrim” is a story for everyone. It may be the story of a Catholic saint but her trust in the Lord to take care of her as she followed the path as He directed is an example to all those who claim to follow Christ.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from
Franciscan Media in exchange for my honest review.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Travel with Empress Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine the Great, on a perilous journey through ancient Judea to Jerusalem.
Abandoned by her husband, in danger because of her faith, but with an implacable will to do what God calls her to, Helena meets those who would help and harm her along the way. Miracles seem to follow this humble but determined woman as she wins many over to the faith, and changes lives forever—including her own. This unforgettable story is a vivid portrait of one of Christian history’s most important women.
Hardcover and Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Franciscan Media
Publication Date: July 17, 2015
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.
His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.
Davis divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Davis at http://www.davisbunn.com.
Q&A With Davis Bunn, author of The Pilgrim
Q: There are many legends about Constantine and his mother, Helena. How did you decide which legend to incorporate into the story?
Davis Bunn: The period when Constantine became the first Christian emperor is one about which so much has been written, and yet so little detail is known. No one knows for certain where his mother, Helena – the main character in The Pilgrim – was born. There are three main legends, and I used the one that has the greatest sense of historical resonance, that she was British, and her father ruled one of the provinces taken over by the Romans. Her husband was a general who met Helena in the local market and fell in love at first sight.
Q: What is the appeal of writing about a historical figure? What was one special challenge you faced in doing so?
First and foremost, Helena is a saint in the eyes of the Catholic church. Her son, Emperor Constantine, was the first Roman leader to convert to Christianity. His death marked the moment when Christians were freed from persecution. Constantine was led to faith by his mother. The Pilgrim is her story.
While I am a fervent evangelical Protestant, my wife is Catholic. My mother is a Catholic convert. As is my sister, who has raised her two daughters as Catholic. So part of what I wanted to do here was to grow closer to the heritage that these dear people treasure. Their faith has had such an impact on my own life. It was important that I use this story and this opportunity to create something that would honor their perspective on faith. I also wanted to share with readers the enormous life lessons we can learn from the lives of the saints.
So many, many different issues came up as a result of this quest. It proved to be a beautiful and intense growing experience. Although this book is not particularly long, the actual writing took as long as some of my much bigger books. Part of this was honing the story so their faith, and their history, was honored, but done from a foundation that reflected my own personal walk in faith.
My hope, my fervent prayer, is that the story will resonate with readers from both faith communities.
Q: The end of The Pilgrim leaves the reader wanting more. Will you revisit this story down the road?
I am working on a second book, The Fragment, which is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2016. The Fragment carries some of the concepts from The Pilgrim into the early twentieth century, when the U.S. came to possess a reliquary with a supposed component of Jesus’s cross. It ends in a vignette that happens today, when a couple travels to Rome.
Q: How can readers find you on the Internet?
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