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Raymond Arroyo reads ‘The Spider Who Saved Christmas’ with All Saints students

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All Saints Catholic School in Manassas kicked off its virtual book fair with a special Zoom event featuring New York Times bestselling author and EWTN news anchor Raymond Arroyo Dec. 7. Reading from his most recent book, "The Spider Who Saved Christmas," Arroyo shared the inspiration behind the story and its timely message of hope.

Arroyo’s name was already familiar to All Saints students because of his popular "Will Wilder" adventure series available in the school library. It was while researching background information for a "Will Wilder" story that Arroyo came upon a reference to the ancient legend of a spider who meets the Holy Family while journeying to Egypt. Unfamiliar with the story, he dug deeper and shared that he saw in this enchanting legend a narrative of how "hope can be found in unexpected places."
Reading from the book, Arroyo set the stage for the Holy Family’s discovery of Nephila, a golden silk orb-weaver spider living in a remote cave where the Holy Family is spending the night. Wishing to protect his family, St. Joseph at first lashes out at the large spider, but Mary asks him to "let it be" as all are here for a reason. The story goes on to reveal the origin of Christmas tinsel and the importance of recognizing and using our God-given gifts.

All Saints students were treated to an insider’s perspective during the call when Arroyo pointed out one of several "Easter eggs" in the book — special surprises within the intricate, Old-World-inspired illustrations by Randy Gallegos that point to a deeper hidden meaning. Arroyo also shared an Eastern European ornament from his Christmas tree commemorating the legend of the spider.

This idea of a special author event to kick off All Saints’ first virtual book fair was the brainchild of Vickie Coyle, library and school media specialist. All Saints’ in-school learners viewed the Zoom call through their classroom ActivPanels, while virtual learners joined in the event on their Chromebooks at home. Diane Elliott, assistant superintendent of schools, also participated in the call along with students from other diocesan schools, including The Basilica School of Saint Mary in Alexandria, St. Andrew the Apostle School in Clifton and St. Ann School in Arlington.

The book reminds readers of the importance of discovering their special gifts and how a small gesture can have a powerful impact.
"We are all here to provide some service, some gift to God," said Arroyo. "That’s why God has given you that gift and that’s what Nephila discovers in this story."

DeVore is director of marketing and development at All Saints Catholic School in Manassas.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020