Friday, May 22, 2015

An Allegory of the King

The King of the Golden City: An Allegory for Children by Mother Mary Loyola, illustrated by John Watson Davis

There is a new study guide version available from Amazon, but we have the illustrated version I linked above. My children appreciated the illustrations by Davis. You can find our edition new at Sacred Heart Books and Gifts.

This book is an extended allegory of Dilecta's life, how the King seeks her and her love, how the Prince Guardian protects and guides her, and how she forms herself to serve the King in this life and prepare herself for life in the Golden City in the next. Inexpert at deciphering allegories, I still neglected to find or use a study guide for this book. Years ago, Catholic Heritage Curricula provided a free study guide you could download from their website, but instead they now offer one you can purchase. I remember looking at the free one years ago and decided against using it with my children, back when my oldest was in second grade. I tell myself the lack of a study guide allows us to discover the allegorical layers on our own, perhaps uncovering more each time we read it.

I vaguely remember reading this book when First Son was in second grade, preparing for his First Communion, three years ago. Mainly, I remember neither of us enjoyed it particularly and I was relieved when we finished it. I was therefore a little reluctant to read it this year as First Daughter prepared for her First Communion. It was only an adoration hour with my children that prompted me to begin it with them. Surprisingly, I found the children and I both enjoyed it more the second time we heard it. I discovered the chapters were much shorter than I remembered. We often read two or three at a time. First Son (at 11) listened without complaint. First Daughter (at 8) delighted in delving into the allegory. Even Second Daughter (at 6) and I discussed Dilecta's battles with Self to do what she knew she ought rather than what she desired in the moment.

Many parts of the book seemed to speak to me in particular this spring. The Prince Guardian says:
"[Y]ou did wrong just now by not listening to me. Do not do more wrong by listening to Malignus, who wants to make you discouraged and unhappy. Our dear King is very kind, very forgiving. he knows his little Dilecta really wants to love and please him, but that she is very weak. Tell him now that you are sorry. As soon as you see that you are doing what he does not like, stop doing it. Tell him you are sorry you began to do it, and he will forgive you. Then go on as before. Try again as if you had never saddened him. Do this as often as you fall into any fault. Get up at once as you would if your foot slipped in crossing a road. You would not sit there crying till a motor came and drove over you. But you would jump up at once and go on as before, very little the worse for your tumble, perhaps even the better for it because it would make you more careful in the future."
I still do not like the part of the book where a fire seems to smite (and kill) a large number of sinning people in the book. I don't think it's the best example of how sinning hurts us, nor do I like how little Dilecta seems to sorrow for their suffering. My children, however, seemed not to notice this part of the book much, even my soft-hearted First Daughter.

We'll read this book at least once more, closer to when Second Daughter and Second Son receive their First Communions.

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. Links to Catholic Heritage Curricula and Sacred Heart Books and Gifts are not affiliate links. I purchased my copy used years ago at a book sale within our homeschool group.


  1. We have this book and also an audio book of it. I like to have the kids listen to the audio book before First Communion. It is delightful with a full cast of characters. Matthew Arnold is the King. The kids like to listen to it and then we talk about it informally as we listen in the car. The book I have is a study edition and Catherine used it this year in her 5th grade curriculum as a reading comprehension book. The CHC study guide has projects that go with each chapter. She loved it and said it was one of her favorite things this year. I think the study guide would be way too much for a second grader, though.

  2. Were you telling me about this a few months ago?

    Related, in regards to allegories, have you read Hinds Feet on High Places (not for children), and it's companion Mountains of Spices? I thought they were beautiful when I read them several years ago.

  3. Monica, I can't remember if I mentioned this one or not. I haven't read Hinds Feet yet, but it's coming up soon on my list!

    1. Wow. Write that down. A book that I've read and you haven't. I would highly recommend reading its sequel as well. I have Hinds Feet if you want to borrow it, and the library has Mountains of Spices.


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