Mike Aquilina

Dragon Feat

Sunday February 01st 2009, 9:31 am

It’s clear — from the mail I get, and from the click-through to Amazon — that a lot of people out there are looking for good fiction about early Christianity. I find it only mildly irritating that books by both Michael Curtis Ford and Father Michael Giesler have outsold my own books over the last month, from my own blog.

You are apparently a great part of that elusive market for patristifiction. (I follow after Father Z, who coined the term patristiblogging.)

But what about matristifiction, you ask? What about the Mothers of the Church?

As if on cue, I received a copy of Andrea Lorenzo Molinari’s Climbing the Dragon’s Ladder: The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas. It’s a fictional interpretation of the passion, written by a scholar who fell head over heels for the saint and needed to know “the rest of the story,” even if that meant writing it himself. If anachronism’s bug you, breathe easy here. This guy has the scholarly chops. He’s the author of The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles: Allegory, Ascent, and Ministry in the Wake of the Decian Persecution, published by the SBL, and Romans and Christians AD 64: An Intergenerational Catechetical Experience of Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church. He teaches New Testament and early Church history at Barry University, and he’s president of the Blessed Edmund Rice School for Pastoral Ministry. The book includes a fulsome foreword from no less a scholar than Joyce Salisbury, who wrote, some years ago, a well regarded study of Perpetua and Felicity.

I’ll post more as I read more. So far (as you might suspect) I’ve been mostly hanging around the tavern owned by the narrator’s family.

But I’ll violate no secrets. Here I say only that Dr. Molinari proposes an intriguing — and dramatically satisfying — answer to the perpetually vexing question: So what about Perpetua’s husband?

The book is lavishly illustrated in the style of the graphic novels my kids love to read. So it is surpassing cool. It’s a perfect style for combat with superhuman dream-gladiators and demonic dragons. Check it out: Climbing the Dragon’s Ladder: The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas.