Pillar of Fire

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my historical novel, Pillar of Fire.

In an age of intolerance, compassion can be dangerous. Pillar of Fire captures the stunning witness of the medieval mystics known as Beguines. Amid the intrigues of kings and knights, against a panorama of church corruption, Crusader campaigns, and Inquisition trials, these bold women broke all the rules. They offer a model of courageous hope in an era much like our own.


Pillar of Fire is a page-turner filled with history, humor, and beauty.” —Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, editor, Geez magazine  

“Joyce Hollyday weaves a fabric of adventure that gallops across Europe to Sinai and back. Retelling the gospel story in a feminist key, Pillar of Fire is a compelling mirror for our own times and consciences.” —Elaine Enns and Ched Myers, authors, Healing Haunted Histories  

“This profound epic tale will move you to tears, incite your righteous anger, and inspire you to create authentic community. Readingitis like taking a deep spiritual journey.” —Nancy Rue, author, The Reluctant Prophet Trilogy 

“This beautifully written story will make you weep, but will also certainly make you cheer. This book should be on every woman’s shelf right next to Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children books and Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series.”—Lynne Hinton, author, The Divine Private Detective Agency Series

More details, endorsements, and ordering information can be found at https://wipfandstock.com/pillar-of-fire.html. When you click on “Add to Cart,” you’ll receive an automatic 20% discount. At checkout, you can use the code PILLAR for an additional 20% off the cover price.

Murmurs & Mystery

[First posted in June 2014 on www.deepeningcommunity.ca]

The chanting of women floated through the small, white-plaster chapel with its barrel-like wood ceiling, lovingly restored to a semblance of its 13th-century dignity. I walked slowly and wide-eyed through the Beguinage Church of Saint Agnes in the little Belgian village of Sint-Truiden.

St. Agnes

Women permeate the place—not only their haunting recorded voices, but also their images. Adorning every column and corner are paintings and frescoes depicting their witness. On one column, the biblical Mary and Elizabeth, both pregnant with babies and with hope, greet one another. On another, Veronica dries Jesus’ tears as he falls under the weight of the cross. Saints Catherine and Agnes and Helena are there. And upon entering the sacred site, you can’t miss the disturbing image of Saint Agatha, looking to heaven and praying while being tortured by her Inquisitors.

How, I wondered, has this place survived for eight hundred years?—this simple chapel that celebrates womanhood, in all its faith and strength, its anguish and vulnerability. What joy, what courage, what tears must have bathed that holy site through the centuries. And what a blessing it was to walk amid the spirits of the Beguines, the ancient women who created it. Continue reading