Saturday, 6 April 2013


Great news today. My book of saints has been published in the USA by Conciliar Press under the title “Traveling Companions; Walking with the Saints of the Orthodox Church.”

According to the publisher's blurb: “Do you long to establish a relationship with the saints, but find them—or the volumes written about them—a little intimidating? The saints started out as ordinary Christians, just like us, and they are  waiting to accompany us on our journey to heaven if we will only reach out our hands. Traveling Companions is a manageable volume that briefly introduces saints from a variety of times, places, and walks of life, all in language that brings them close to contemporary readers’ lives. You’re sure to find companions here that you will be happy to walk with all the way to the Kingdom.”

For the time being, the book is only available direct from Conciliar Press at a price of $18.95 + postage:  I can vouch for the fact that their postage charges are not outrageous and they accept PayPal. It will be available in Orthodox bookshops in the USA in a few weeks but distribution to bookshops in UK and Europe may take a little longer. I'll keep you informed. It will be on Amazon shortly but I'm not sure if that's only (USA) or whether it will be accessible via UK Amazon ( Updated news is available on my Facebook Page:

For the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting some extracts from the book to give you some idea of the content and style. I'll begin this week with the most recently canonized Orthodox saint, Alexander Schmorell of Munich. His story is fascinating not only in its own right but for the light it sheds on the largely unknown resistance to Hitler within Germany.

Alexander of Munich, Holy New Martyr (July 13)

On a freezing day in February, 2012, a moving ceremony was held in Munich in the Cathedral of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. It was the beginning of two days of services held to recognize the glorification as a saint of a young German student who was beheaded by the Nazis in 1943. Venerated locally for many years as a Passion Bearer, Alexander Schmorell stands out as a shining example of someone who put his Christian beliefs into practice even amid the horrors and complexities of modern totalitarianism.
Alexander was a mild-mannered and peaceable character, handsome and popular with the girls, and it is  highly likely that, in a different age or country, he would have lived out an unexceptional life as a doctor in Munich. However, a man called Hitler changed all that.

Alexander was born in 1917 in Orenburg, Russia, of Russian and German parents, and was brought up Orthodox. In 1921, the family fled the Bolsheviks and settled in Munich. While studying medicine in Munich in 1940, Alex joined two other students, Hans Scholl and Willi Graf, to form the White Rose resistance group. The main activity of the group was the production and distribution of anti-Nazi leaflets. Although these were joint efforts, it is  almost certainly Alexander who was responsible for the moving outburst against the  Holocaust in the second leaflet: “Here we see the most frightful crime against human  dignity, a crime that is unparalleled in the whole of history. For Jews, too, are human  beings.” The leaflets generally reject Prussian militarism and quote widely from the Bible, classical philosophy, and the giants of German literature. They are deeply imbued with Christian belief, and some of the language is clearly stamped with Orthodox theology.

In the summer of 1942, the three medical students were drafted as combat medics to the Eastern Front, where Alexander was appalled at the treatment of enemy soldiers and civilians. Remembering his mixed  background, he declared that there was no way he could ever kill either a Russian or a German. While in the east, he was able to meet Orthodox priests and attend the Holy Liturgy with his friends. It must have been a bizarre sight to see Alexander, Hans, and Willi joining the Orthodox church services dressed in their Nazi uniforms!

Distribution of the White Rose leaflets was extended throughout Germany and Austria, and the group also began painting slogans around Munich. While the slogan “Freedom” was treasonous in itself, there can’t have been many places in Germany where the graffiti “Down with Hitler” could be seen in 1942! At the beginning of 1943, however, several members of the group were arrested, and their trial and execution marked the beginning of the end of the White Rose.

Alex was arrested in February 1943. After interrogation by the Gestapo, he was tried on a charge of high treason, sentenced to death, and guillotined on July 13, at the age of twenty-five. His letters from prison to his family, especially the final one, are very moving,  accepting his fate and restating firmly his religious faith: “By the will of God, today I shall have my earthly life come to a close in order to go into another, which will never end and in which all of us will again meet.” He was buried in the cemetery behind  Stadelheim Prison. Along with the other members of the White Rose, he is, of course, respected and honored
throughout contemporary Germany for his heroic stand against Nazism.

© Conciliar Press 2013


A full and very evocative description of the service of glorification of Alexander can be found on

A German film about another member of the group, called Sophie Scholl—The Final Days, is still available on DVD with English subtitles.

A longer version of this story will be included in my next book which is about 20th century Orthodox martyrs. You can also find an enormous amount of material about the White Rose group, including all the leaflets and all Alexander’s letters from prison, on
For German speakers, the website of the White Rose Fellowship is also well worth visiting


  1. Can you list the saints covered in this book, Please? Thank you.

  2. Hi NW Juliana, thanks a lot for your interest. Unfortunately, with about 240 saints in the book, that's quite a task. However, I can say that most of the best-known saints venerated in the Orthodox Church are included plus quite a lot of the lesser-known ones and a few almost unknown. I believe I've covered the whole range in time and area and have made a point of including some of the pre-Schism British saints and some from the USA. If there is anyone you are particularly interested in, post a comment and I'll tell you if he or she is included.

  3. Oh! That's wonderful. Thank you. I thought it was like 12 or something. :) My patron is St. Juliana of Lazarevo -- is she in there? I will look at getting this.

    1. Yes, Juliana is in the book. I must admit I hadn't heard of her before writing the book and her inclusion was at the suggestion of my editor. However, I'm glad I found her; she's quite a lady!

    2. Yes! She and I share having had seven children and being homemakers. I value her prayers. I look forward to reading your story of her life. Thank you.


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