Antoine Frederic Ozanam

Raymond Sickinger. Univ. of Notre Dame, $60 (460p) ISBN 978-0-268-10142-8
Sickinger, history and classics chair at Providence College, unveils the life of an early-19th-century Catholic who is surprisingly relevant to modern times. Ozanam was a devout French Catholic, a prominent scholar, and the principal founder of the lay Catholic charity St. Vincent de Paul. He lived through a turbulent era. Born in 1813, Ozanam saw the devastations wrought on workers by the wealthy and came to support many of the goals of France’s 1848 revolutionaries (though never socialism). Sickinger meticulously shows how, through visiting and supporting the poor, Ozanam became an advocate of ideas considered radical in his day, such as trade unionism, progressive taxation, and a guaranteed job. Ozanam sought, both as a medieval scholar and social reformer, a central place for Catholicism in a society he saw as both spiritually and materially lacking. Unfortunately, though Sickinger hints at problems in Ozanam’s life, he glosses over what readers might find most compelling in a saint (he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997): a full examination of his struggles and flaws. At times Sickinger’s Ozanam feels larger than life, but the book also effectively portrays Ozanam as a compassionate advocate for the poor and deftly highlights the powerful lessons in this 19th-century saint’s witness. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/10/2017
Release date: 06/30/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 412 pages - 978-0-268-10143-5
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