Stories from her homeland


Local author Cindy Millen admits she is in love with Ireland. She visits the country at least twice a year and, like any good Irishman, brings back wonderful stories about her ancestral home.
She has used some of those stories about the monasteries she has visited to write a new children’s book, soon to be published by Charlesbridge Publishers. The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane tells the story of an Irish monk whose job of illustrating manuscripts in brown ink clashes with his love of the colors of nature. He finds a way to use berries, flowers and leaves into a rainbow of ink shades, encouraging his brother monks to fill their books with “heavenly hues.”
Woven throughout the story are poems about their work, adapted by Millen from medieval monks in their native language. She combined lines from different poems and modernized the language, then placed the poems into the story, a technique that reminds the reader that these men were very real and very human. A note from the author provides background about the work of the monks and their role in keeping “the light of knowledge” alive in the Dark Ages in Europe.
Millen remembers her Irish
parents providing her with a childhood of humor, traditions, and, of course, stories. She always liked to write stories, and credits her teachers at Gesu School and Blessed Sacrament School with encouraging her to write and illustrate her stories. One Sister of Notre Dame, Sister Mary Theophane Sullivan, provided the name for her story’s main character. “Sister Mary Theophane was an amazing force of nature. She was strict and brilliant, but with a twinkle in her eye….and her being a Sullivan, that explains the twinkle of course. So when the idea came to me to write about the monks who copied all of the great works during medieval times, that name Theophane seemed perfect for my brilliant, but mischievous monk.”
When the book is released in July, Millen hopes to present a copy of the book to Sister Mary Theophane, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday. The book will be available at websites like and stores cuch as Books-A-Million.