Catholics take ghosts, demons and the devil seriously because they know they are real. In fact, many Saints have had personal encounters with frightening spirits.
We must make a distinction here. Ghosts are harmless souls in purgatory who appear to the living to beg for prayers. Demons, however, are the minions of Satan, Lucifer, the fallen Angel, whose vengeful goal it is to destroy human souls.
Some Saints were so advanced in spiritual warfare that Satan's temptation did not have any effect on them. Therefore he found it necessary to attack them physically.
Padre Pio was one of these Saints. He wrote to his spiritual father: " My Father, my whole body is bruised from the beatings that I have received to the present time by our enemies. Several times, they have even torn off my shirt so that they could strike my exposed flesh."
Padre Pio a St. Joseph Book by Reverend Jude Winkler, OFM, (picture above) is a short, beautifully illustrated book about the life of the Saint. The simple language makes it suitable for grades 3 and up.
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: Rich in Love by Eileen Bertanzetti, vividly illustrated by Karen Ritz, tells the Saint's story in more detail for grades 4 and up.
Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book I and Book II is a collection of stories about the saint in two volumes of almost 500 pages each. The stories were gathered and written down by Diane Allen. This is a book suitable for young and old adults, great for reading story by story when there is no time for an entire book.
Apart from his battle with demons, Padre Pio also had many encounters with ghosts, apparitions of souls in purgatory, who begged him for masses to shorten their time in purgatory.
Saint Faustina Kowalska was another Saint who was approached by a ghost. The soul of a nun in purgatory begged her for help. Praying for the Holy Souls became one of Saint Faustina's special missions. Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska is a wonderful primary source for teen readers. With 626 pages this book is for the serious souls among your children.
A shorter and lighter account of Saint Faustina's life and work can be found in Saint Faustina Kowalska: Messenger of Mercy by Susan Wallace with lovely illustrations by Joan Waites. This beautiful book was written for ages 10 to 14.
Saint Christopher, The Holy Giant by Tomie de Paola is our family's favorite picture book about the Saint with gorgeous illustrations by the author. After many attempts of finding the greatest king to offer his services to, St. Christopher finally enters the service of the greatest King of all, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the one of whom even the devil is in awe. The Saint discovers that the devil is afraid even of the sign of the cross.
The Legend of Saint Christopher by another favorite author, Margaret
Hodges, comes in close second. This book is illustrated with sumptuous, mysterious paintings by Richard Jesse Watson. I especially like the portrait of the devil as a knight in armor with a closed vizier eerily and eyelessly staring from the page.
Saint Anthony The Great by John Chryssavgis and Marilyn Rouvelas tells the story of Saint Anthony of the Desert who lived in the third and fourth century and is one of the great fathers of monasticism. He spent most of his life battling the most vicious and hideous demons. Thanks to his great faith in God, he always won the battle. The book is beautifully illustrated by Isabelle Brent. Suitable for kindergarden and up.
Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis wrote and illustrated Saint Anthony The Great for the Paterikon for Kids series.The small format, 6 X 6 inches, is just right for little hands and the colorful iconographic illustrations are perfect to teach your child about this great Saint. Ages 2 and up.
A Story of Saint John Vianney by Brother Ernest, C.S.C. tells the fascinating story of the Cure of Ars, the humble parish priest who, like Padre Pio, was physically attacked by the devil. This lovely story, illustrated with black and white drawings by Carolyn Lee Jagodita, is suitable for ages 8 and up.
The Cure of Ars: The Priest Who Out-Talked the Devil by Milton Lomask is one of the great middle-grade novels of the Saints in the Ignatius Press Vision Books series. These exciting books tend to be devoured by kids who love adventure stories.
You may also like my previous Halloween posts:
Have a Blessed All Saints' Day!