”And of what should we be afraid? Our captain on this battlefield is Christ Jesus. We have discovered what we have to do. Christ has bound our enemies for us and weakened them that they cannot overcome us unless we so choose to let them. So we must fight courageously and mark ourselves with the sign of the most Holy Cross.”–Saint Catherine of Sienna
Review and Comments
If there was ever a story of courage, faith, and commitment, it is the story of Father Gereon Goldmann. His story begins with him being drafted into the loathsome SS during WWII. As a strong German Catholic who had been in the seminary, this is a great struggle. Father Goldmann is strong, however, and remains committed to our Lord through it all and because of this, he is able to minister to so many.
While in the army, he prays often and his stories of survival are full of near misses and miraculous events. When he is able to meet with some nuns who are very dear to him, they share that they, too, have been praying for him and that he may some day be ordained into the priesthood. Even he is skeptical that this prayer will be answered under the current state, but again, these prayers are answered and he becomes a priest. Because of this, he is able to minister to many of the other German soldiers who have turned their back on the Christian faith in favor of Hitler’s new regime AND he is able to help other civilians he comes in contact with while fighting. Each event of his story is awe inspiring and shows God’s faithfulness to us when we are faithful to Him.
I find this particular version of his story fascinating in the way it is told. It is a graphic novel and appeals to a younger audience which makes this story more ‘accessible’. Father Goldmann originally shared his story in his book, The Shadow of His Wings, but this version appeals to older readers. This graphic novel is the beginning of a great trend I am seeing with the onset of new Christian literature geared toward the young adult audience.
The book is an incredibly quick read and it is followed by more biographical information of Father Goldmann with actual pictures and documentation of proof that the story is true.
I HIGHLY recommend this book for middle-schoolers on up. Anyone who reads it will be fascinated with his stories. I suppose my selfish hope is that more Catholic/Christian schools will choose books like this for their libraries and for their required reading, even a quick summer read or one included in a literature circle. What better way to be inspired by our faith than by reading about the courage and heroism of the people who have come before us?
- This is a graphic novel and there are depictions of war. The artist and author keeps the violence to a minimum, but war is death and destruction and that is shown in the pictures.
- Sometimes we pray and feel there is no answer. How do the nuns demonstrate their dedication to prayer? How does their prayer affect the life of Father Goldmann? Do you feel your prayers are effective in helping others? Why?
- Many Christians turned their backs on their faith during Hitler’s regime. Father Goldmann found many of them. How did they respond to him? Why do you think they turned on God? Why do so many have a hard time coming back?
- Father Goldmann almost died many times. Do you think God had a hand in protecting him? How does His protection help carry out his plan for Father Goldmann?
The Shadow of His Wings: A Graphic Biography of Fr. Gereon Goldmann
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- Read more about Father Goldmann here.
- Review the Fifth Commandment. You can find more information here.
- Read more about care of soldiers and veterans in the article “Catholic Traditions and Veterans’ Care”.
- Read this “Prayer for Troops” published by the USCCB.
- Read “In the Service: Priests in the Military” from U.S. Catholic.
- Read the original book (click on picture for affiliate link):
- Read this book (click on picture for affiliate link):
General Teaching Resources:
- Write a character analysis of Father Goldmann.
- Write a diary entry pretending to be one of the soldiers who has turned away from the church.
- Create a timeline of major events in the story.
- Choose a saint or other ‘famous’ Christian hero and create a short graphic novel about his or her struggles and encounters with holiness.
- For older students: Analyze the use of artwork in the story and explain it’s effectiveness in appealing to a younger crowd.
Beth Ruggiero is a Christian book reviewer at her blog, Lit By the Tree. As a former high school English teacher, her goal is to find great books for kids and provide quality discussions and lessons for families and Christian teachers. For more reviews like this go to LitBytheTree.com.