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One of the Finest Saint Books Ever

Robert Payne, The Holy Fire (1957). A Micro-Review

Photo by Cullan Smith / Unsplash

But no one seems to have ever heard of it, much less read it

A book this good, yet few have heard of it. It's no doubt a testament to the West's neglect of the Christian East . . . of Christ's East. Which is, of course, now Muhammad's East, which, of course, adds to the geographical separation that has always afflicted Rome: both the Church and the Empire.

Even the Great JPII, whose people owe their faith to the Eastern missionaries Cyril and Methodius, couldn't bridge the divide, and he tried mightily. The fault rests largely with the recalcitrance of the East and its unfortunate shoulder chip that accumulated from generations of degradation at the hands of the Muslims and then the Communists. The East needs the West, but it won't acknowledge it.

Maybe the East needs a book about saints like Payne's, but written about the West's early lights. The East has Basil, the West Benedict. The East has John Chrysostom, the West Ambrose. If such a book were written with one-tenth of Payne's verve, it'd do much to collapse those two great lungs into one heart.

Unlikely? Sure.

But not one-tenth as unlikely as the victories of the ten saints whose stories are told in this book.

Buy it at Eighth Day Books

The Holy Fire: The Story of the Fathers of the Eastern Church (Robert Payne) • The Worthy House
It’s Lent, so let’s spend a little time away from politics. The Holy Fire, first published in 1957, when Eastern Orthodoxy had zero presence in the religious consciousness of most of America, is a beautifully-written popular history of ten towering eastern Fathers of the Church. Popular history in 1…