Michael O'Brien (Canadian author)

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Michael D. O'Brien (born 1948) is a Roman Catholic author, artist, and frequent essayist and lecturer on faith and culture, living in Combermere, Ontario, Canada. Born in Ottawa, he is self-taught, without an academic background. Michael O'Brien's books have been published in a number of foreign languages, including Croatian, Czech, French, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Swedish and Lithuanian. He is married and has six children.[1]


Michael O'Brien is best known for his series of apocalyptic novels collectively entitled Children of the Last Days. The best-selling first novel in the series, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse (Ignatius Press, 1996), tells the story of a Jewish Holocaust survivor named David Schäfer who converts to Catholicism, becomes a Carmelite priest, and takes the name Father Elijah. The novel includes depictions of a Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who resembles Joseph Ratzinger, and a Pope, who resembles Pope John Paul II. The fictional pope tasks Father Elijah with a secret mission: to confront the Antichrist, bring him to repentance, and thus postpone the Great Tribulation. One of the Antichrist's intrigues involves the discovery of Aristotle's lost work On Justice.

O'Brien's other fiction works include:

  • The Small Angel (White Horse Press, 1996)
  • Strangers and Sojourners (Ignatius Press, 1997) an agnostic Englishwoman and Catholic Irishman both flee from their pasts to Canada in the 1930s, where they live out their lives as "Strangers and Sojourners in a foreign land..."
  • Eclipse of the Sun (Ignatius Press, 1998) a Children of the Last Days novel; a priest and a child are hunted across NW Canada by an increasingly totalitarian government and the forces of evil.
  • Plague Journal (Ignatius Press, 1999) This is another Children of the Last Days novel, set in Canada; it is written in the form of the diary of a Catholic newsletter editor who is framed for murder by the forces of Antichrist.
  • A Cry of Stone (Ignatius Press, 2003) (5th Novel in the Children of the Last Days series) Rose Wâbos. Abandoned as an infant, Rose is raised by her grandmother, Oldmary Wâbos, in the remotest regions of the northern Ontario wilderness. The story covers a period from 1940 to 1973, chronicling Rose’s growth to womanhood, her discovery of art, her moving out into the world of cities and sophisticated cultural circles.
  • Sophia House (Ignatius Press, 2005) Depicts the experiences of the young David Schäfer/Fr. Elijah while being sheltered by Pawel Tarnowski, a Polish Catholic during the Second World War.
  • Island of the World (Ignatius Press, 2007) Tells the story of Josip Lasta, the son of an impoverished school teacher in a remote village high in Bosnia and Herzegowina.
  • Theophilos (Ignatius Press, 2010) Historic Fiction centered on Theophilos, here portrayed as the adopted father of St. Luke the Evangelist.
  • Winter Tales (Justin Press, 2011)
  • A Father's Tale (Ignatius Press, 2011) Canadian bookseller Alex Graham is a middle-age widower whose quiet life is turned upside down when his college-age son disappears without any explanation or trace of where he has gone. With minimal resources, the father begins a long journey that takes him for the first time away from his safe and orderly world.
  • Voyage to Alpha Centauri (Ignatius Press, 2013) Set eighty years in the future, an expedition is sent from the planet Earth to Alpha Centauri, the star closest to our solar system. The Kosmos, a great ship that the central character Neil de Hoyos describes as a "flying city", is immense in size and capable of more than half light-speed. Hoyos, a Nobel Prize–winning physicist who has played a major role in designing the ship, signs on as a passenger.
  • Elijah in Jerusalem (Ignatius Press, 2015) A sequel to Father Elijah.
  • The Fool of New York City (Ignatius Press, 2016)

The themes presented in O'Brien's Children of the Last Days series are similar to those presented in Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World, a Catholic apocalyptic novel written in 1907.


Michael O'Brien's articles and lectures tend to focus on his belief that Western civilization is in severe decline as well as heading towards a "New Totalitarianism."

O'Brien's best-known non-fiction work, A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind (Ignatius Press, 1994) — described as controversial by its publisher — presents his concern that contemporary children's literature and culture has strayed from Christian ethics to a more pagan ideology where good and evil is not strongly defined.[2][3] The book features O'Brien's examination of fantasy works ranging from C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings to Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern. (About one third of this 260-page book is a bibliography of recommended reading which was not penned by O'Brien.) One of the book's central claims is that any story in which dragons are presented sympathetically (rather than as forces of evil) is implicitly anti-Christian (because of the traditional use of the dragon as a symbol for Satan). Elsewhere, O'Brien has been critical of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, comparing it unfavourably with the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.[4]

O'Brien's other non-fiction works include:

  • Nazareth Journal magazine (he was founding editor and frequent contributor)
  • The Family and the New Totalitarianism (essay collection)
  • The Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary (meditations and paintings)
  • Waiting: Stories for Advent (Justin Press, 2010)
  • Father at Night (Justin Press, 2011)


O'Brien is also an artist, painting in a neo-Byzantine style with a contemporary interpretation; his paintings often sell for upwards of $10,000 USD. His paintings are featured on the covers of all of his books with one recent exception. His latest major work, A Father's Tale, pictures a boy with a large model sailboat and is not attributed to O'Brien or any other artist.


  1. ^ Manager. "Biography of Michael O'Brien details a creative life full of joys and sorrows". Retrieved 2018-03-03. 
  2. ^ Advertisement for Landscape with Dragons Archived 2006-03-25 at the Wayback Machine. Ignatius.com. Retrieved June 6, 2006.
  3. ^ Just a Fairy Story? excerpt from Chapter 2 of A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind.
  4. ^ https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/art/tolkien-and-rowling-common-ground.html

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