Susan Peek, a Third Order Franciscan and Catholic novelist, has written the story of a “little-known saint” — “Saint Cloud of Gaul: The Prince Who Traded Kingdoms.”
Because the St. Cloud Diocese’s patron saint’s feast day is celebrated Sept. 7 and 2022 is the 1,500th anniversary of his birth, Peek’s book is especially timely.
According to the book, written for teens, Cloud was born in A.D. 522. His two older brothers live with their pious and loving grandmother, St. Clothilde, following the deaths of their parents. These grandsons of King Clovis and heirs to his Kingdom of Orleans, France, are mysteriously summoned to an uncle’s castle where Cloud’s brothers are murdered. Cloud barely escapes into hiding and makes his way to the bishop of Rheims, France, who mentors him for a decade. An encounter with Christ changes him and helps him determine which kingdom he wants to lead.
“Writing about St. Cloud was suggested to me by my friend, Sister Maria Philomena, a teaching nun and high school principal who uses all of my books for her literature classes,” Peek said. “I liked her idea because Cloud lived an exciting life full of drama and political intrigue and tragedy.
“Plus it’s very rare for a prince to renounce his kingdom and become a priest,” Peek added. “I always loved St. Clothilde and wondered how she raised such bloodthirsty sons. Before I began the project, I toured St. Mary’s Cathedral, saw St. Cloud’s relics and prayed to him. As I researched, I realized the plot and suspense were already there.”
Though she has an extensive history library, Peek found it was hard to find definitive information because much of it was contradictory. “Names weren’t spelled the same and dates for events varied. I had to work out what seemed most realistic and practical for the story,” she said.
“Readers don’t need to know all about the background history to appreciate Cloud’s story. But, after reading the book, maybe people will want to research that era on their own to learn more about Clovis’ special sword or why only royalty wore their hair long.”
Peek wanted Cloud to be relatable. “The saints were real people with struggles, temptations and personalities. They weren’t perfect and had to work on it, with God’s grace. Cloud was like other normal young men of the time,” she said.
“I especially wanted to emphasize the courage it took for Cloud to follow God’s will,” she said. “Cloud could have had power, worldly honors and riches, but gave it all up for his love of God. In today’s world, a lot of teens are discerning their vocations but may be afraid to follow God. If a prince could give up gold, honor and kingdoms, how might they also do it? They need to see real-life heroes, like St. Cloud. He was in love with the Lord and the Blessed Sacrament, which is a beautiful model for our teenagers.”
Peek said she particularly enjoys writing about lesser-known heroes like St. Cloud. Her other novels for teens focus on St. Camillus de Lellis, St. Dymphna, King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, and St. Magnus. Her children’s books on forgotten saints include St. William, St. Anastasia, St. Rudolph and St. John the Dwarf.
Get the book
“Saint Cloud of Gaul: The Prince Who Traded Kingdoms” is available from the author at SusanPeekAuthor.com, at the St. Cloud Book Shop and on Amazon.
Celebrating the Feast of St. Cloud in France
In May 1922, the pastor of St. Cloud, France, Abbé Joseph Legrand, invited St. Cloud Bishop Joseph Busch and other Catholic pilgrims from central Minnesota to be honored guests at their 14th centenary ceremonies marking the birth of St. Cloud. Bishop Busch brought back a precious relic of St. Cloud and commissioned a statue and painting, duplicates of those he’d seen there.
This year marks the 1,500-year anniversary, and the St. Cloud Diocese has been invited to send a delegation to St. Cloud, France, sometime between fall 2022 and May 2023 to attend festivities. Bishop Donald Kettler is gauging interest for a pilgrimage. If you are interested in possibly participating in a pilgrimage to St. Cloud, France — dates and cost still pending — please email a note to the Communications Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to: The Central Minnesota Catholic, P.O. Box 1068, St. Cloud, MN 56302.