The heroine of the book is Fabiola, a young pagan beauty from a noble Roman family. Fabiola seems to have everything, including a superior education in the philosophers, yet under the surface, she is not content with her life. One day, in a fit of rage, she attacks and wounds her slave girl Syra, who is a secret Christian. The proud, spoiled Roman girl is humbled by Syra’s humility, maturity and devotion to her in this situation, and a slow transformation begins.
Woven into this fictitious story are a number of martyrdom accounts of real-life Christian saints, including Saint Agnes, Saint Tarcisius and Saint Sebastian.
Cardinal Wiseman wrote Fabiola in part as an answer to the vigorously anti-Catholic book Hypatia by Charles Kingsley. The novel was mainly aimed at the embattled Catholic minority in England, who had recently emerged from a half-illegal status. (Summary adapted from Wikipedia)
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