LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Peter Fiore, OFM, scholar in residence and former professor of literature at Siena College, has written his sixth book.
The Gospels Are Now: Timeless Gospel Themes and Life, Literature, and the Arts, published by Ex Libris, examines events from Christ’s life as shown in literature and the arts.
Peter, an expert in classical authors like Dante, Milton and Donne, takes timeless Gospel incidents and shows how these themes are reflected in the great writings of present-day times. “I see a great deal of Biblical and theological themes in the great books and art of today. I always encourage students to look for those themes.”
Peter — an English professor, department chairman and dean emeritus of the School of Liberal Arts — also preaches on Sundays at St. Mary’s Parish in Ballston Spa, N.Y. He said he draws from literary themes when writing sermons, and over the years people have asked him to write a book about Biblical themes in literature.
Professor and Priest
“I see this book as a synthesis of my experience as a literature professor and a priest professor.”
In the book’s 30 chapters, which took Peter three years to write, he covers authors John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson, Herman Melville, Franco Zeffirelli and others. Some of the works covered includeWaiting for Godot, Raisin in the Sun, Man of La Mancha, Our Town, and Schindler’s List. Peter, former director of communications for the Province, and former dean of the School of Liberal Arts and head of the English Department, takes a personal writing style that is easy to read.
“I tried for that,” he said. “I really tried to make it sound like I was talking personally.”
He discusses how Oscar Schindler, the main character in Schindler’s List who helped save Jews in the Holocaust, is like the good Samaritan. Author John Steinbeck, he said, explored the Christian theme of the vine and the branches in The Grapes of Wrath.
The Shawshank Redemption is also based on a Christian theme in a prison setting on death row. This chapter even tells the story of the late Stephen Walsh, OFM, a Province friar who had a vibrant prison ministry in Huntsville, Texas. “He died in his mid-80s. All of his priestly life he worked in the prisons with inmates on death row. The Province would absorb the costs of burials for the executed inmates,” said Peter, who knew Stephen.
Peter’s other books include Personal Journeys: Essays on Dante, Donne, Milton, Hopkins, Waugh and Flannery O’Connor, and More Personal Journeys: Essays on Chaucer, Shakespeare, Augustine, Newman, Chesterton and Greene.
The book’s cover was designed by Siena artist Sergio Sirocolo, and includes the character that Cher played inMoonstruck.
The book makes a great Christmas gift, said Peter, as indicated by the 200 copies he recently sold at a book signing at St. Mary’s Parish. “One person bought eight copies,” he said with a smile.
The Glens Falls, N.Y. native graduated from Siena in 1949 and earned a master’s degree in English from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a doctorate in English from London University in England.
Peter, who professed solemn vows as a Franciscan friar in 1954, has worked intermittently at Siena College since 1956.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, contributes frequently to HNP Today.