Sophie's Fire

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About the author:
Constance Solari has taught at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, California, since 1972 and serves on the Formation to Mission Committee of the U.S. Sacred Heart Network Board. Her academic areas of interest are French and Italian studies, Comparative Literature, and the Humanities. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sophie's Fire

Authored by Constance Solari

In the midst of a raging fire on a winter night in 1779, a Burgundian woman went into early labor and delivered a child who never should have survived. Instead, the tiny infant-Madeleine Sophie Barat-went on to thrive in a France wracked and torn by revolution, terror, Napoleonic domination, and all that followed in their wake. Possessed of a vision of a world dedicated to generosity and love, she founded a religious order and an international network of schools that still flourish today: the schools of the Sacred Heart. In 1925 she was declared a saint. Passionate, brilliant, politically savvy, and aware of the powerful potential of women to reshape society, Sophie is a role model for our own times.
This is a book for lovers of European history, gender politics, and Roman Catholic Church history and spirituality. The nineteenth century saw the birth of modern Europe as absolute monarchies and small principalities gave way to nation states, and as the power of the Catholic Church was seriously tested. Sophie Barat was threatened, directly or indirectly, by figures as disparate as Napoleon Bonaparte, the Archbishop of Paris, the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi, and key members of the Vatican hierarchy. All of these colorful figures find a place in the novel, which sweeps the reader from the politically charged years just before the French Revolution up to the year 1852.
Journalist and writer Cokie Roberts, a Sacred Heart alumna, writes, "Though this is a work of fiction, there's nothing imaginary about the attempts to sabotage the young woman and her mission that Solari so perfectly portrays." Professor Robert Pogue Harrison of Stanford University adds that the book is "an exquisite tapestry that brings alive . . . Barat's inner spirituality, her formidable intellect, her institutional activism, and the geopolitics of her historical age." Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ, a past Superior of the U.S. Province, assures readers that "those who know Sophie's life will delight in fresh insight; those encountering her for the first time will be amazed that such a thoroughly contemporary woman began her life's work two hundred years ago and continues to influence hundreds of thousands today."
For more information on the book, Sophie herself, and the historical and intellectual world in which she lived, visit

Publication Date:
0615621457 / 9780615621456
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Historical / General

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