On the bookshelf in front of me I can see several rare books I hunted down in VINNIES shops as I travelled around the bush. The thrill of chasing a bargain blinded me to a richer story hidden in those humble stores. Behind those kindly, ageing volunteers who serve you, stand two gifted young men who challenged poverty across the world with robust Christian faith.
Europe was torn by revolution, war and crippled by disease in the early decades of the 19th century. The streets of Paris had flowed with blood as the ruling aristocracy were guillotined in the name of Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood. When a brilliant young student named Frederic Ozanam arrived at University in that city, he found religion on the decline and atheism increasing.
He had struggled through doubt himself and was confronted by sceptics who demanded more than the intellectual proofs for the Christian faith he presented. The challenge jolted Frederic and a group of friends to start providing food and firewood for starving people flooding in from the country, even as a cholera epidemic swept through the slums. They saw themselves following the example of a priest named Vincent de Paul who had left his mark on France two and a half centuries earlier.
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.