Even though “Pascual” means Pascha, Tomie dePaola’s Pascual and the Kitchen Angels isn’t a Pascha book. It’s a folk tale about Saint Pascual. And it is every bit as delightful as you expect a book by dePaola to be.
Saints who Cook
Saint Pascual is a sixteenth century Spanish saint who is considered the patron saint of the kitchen and cooking. In the Orthodox church, of course, that position is filled by Saint Euphrosynos. Both Saint Pascual and Saint Euphrosynos worked in the kitchens of their respective monasteries. Both spent their time in the kitchen in prayer. Saint Euphrosynos prayed while he cooked. Saint Pascual, according to the old stories, prayed while angels did the cooking.
A Monastic Calling
Before going to the monastery, Saint Pascual had been a shepherd. While he cared for the sheep, he prayed, he sang, and he made garlands of flowers to adorn their necks. He was known for his love of animals. He was also known for his generosity in feeding the poor and hungry.
And so he decided to join a Franciscan monastery, where he could continue this work. But the Franciscans put him to work as a cook in the monastery kitchen.
He didn’t know how to cook, but he knew how to pray. So he prayed, and angels cooked. And when his brother monks finally realized how the meals got made, they allowed Saint Pascual to join the monastery’s work of feeding the hungry.
Why You Need This Book
The story and the illustrations in Pascual and the Kitchen Angels are pure dePaola: sweet, vibrant, and playful. The words and the images go together like bread and butter or chocolate chip cookies and milk.
The angels in their long white aprons and the kitchen cat are particularly delightful. As are the singing sheep. And, well, all of it.
And for parents, dePaola includes a lovely note at the end of the book with more about the life of Saint Pascual. If your children love the book as much as I do, they may want to know more about this saint, and dePaola makes it easy for you to tell them more.
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St. Scholastica and the Thunderstorm: When St. Benedict refused his sister’s request, she asked God to force the issue. He did.