Some people find their calling at an early age. Others, like Charlestown's Julian Bauer, discover hidden talents later in life. At 75, Julian wrote his first novel, The Scholar's Challenge. This month, he celebrates his eighty-second birthday with his fifth book, The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis.
"I did a lot of expository writing throughout my career, but I didn't begin writing fiction until seven years ago," says Julian, former director of financial management and budgeting at the Social Security Administration.
The inspiration for Julian's novels emanated from his curiosity surrounding his Catholic religion and interest in the early Christian Church.
"I started doing research about various aspects of my own religion throughout different periods of time—first century, fourth century, sixteenth century, and current times," says Julian. "I began reading biographies of important people from those time periods. There are an awful lot of things I learned that I wanted my grandchildren to know, so I began jotting down notes as I read and then later I began melding them into novels."
The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis is a historical novel about Saint Carlo (Charles) Borromeo, who served as the archbishop of Milan after the Protestant Reformation. (Incidentally, Charlestown, the Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md., where Julian lives, was named after Saint Charles.)
"As a young man, Borromeo received two doctorates, one in law and one in theology," says Julian. "He was named the secretary of state by his uncle Pope Pius IV, and over the next several years, helped the Pope complete the work of the Council of Trent, which annunciated the beliefs of the Catholic Church and the penalties of immoral behavior by the clergy. Saint Charles implemented those decisions when he became archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milan, many of which are still followed by Christians all over the world today."
The story is narrated by Roberto Vecchi, a fictitious bodyguard of Saint Charles. Through Vecchi, Julian uses historical facts of the sixteenth century to weave an interesting story that transports the reader to the Battle of Lepanto, where the Holy League stopped the Ottoman Empire's Muslim fleet from controlling the Mediterranean, as well as to Spain, where the foundation was laid concerning the rights of man and the concept of a just war.
"This year is the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation," says Julian. "This novel describes the Catholic Reformation together with an endnote that reveals how early men's sometimes violent disagreements had been modified to find agreement between all the religious communities, particularly in the last two decades."
'More adventures than I can remember'
Years before he ever began writing, Julian formed his own worldwide touring company, Bauer World-Wide Tours, which took him to some of the locations now featured in his books.
"I've walked the Great Wall of China, visited Ground Zero in Nagasaki (and New York), took the subway in St. Petersburg, saw the Northern Lights at the edge of the Bering Sea (in winter), touched the southernmost landfall in South America, danced the tango in Buenos Aires, sang 'Molly Malone' in an Irish pub, ate fish and chips in London, hiked the Alps, watched the southern sky in the Outback of Australia, sailed down the Yangtze River, shot a blowgun in the Amazon forests, and have had more adventures than I can remember," he writes on his blog callbauer.org.
Julian has already begun researching his next book, a novel about two brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius of Thessalonica (present-day Greece), who were Byzantine Christian theologians and Christian missionaries.
He and his wife Carmen sold their townhouse in Columbia, Md., and moved to Charlestown in 2016. Carmen volunteers as a receptionist for the pastoral ministries department at Charlestown's historic Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, while Julian serves as an usher and altar server and is an active member of the Catholic War Veterans, a faith-based veterans' organization.
"We wound up with a beautiful two-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor," says Julian. "We have very nice large windows with a view of the woods. We can actually see the tops of Baltimore City from our apartment. I didn't find it hard at all to adjust to apartment living. I've run into a number of people I know and have made friends very quickly."
The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis, as well as Julian's other books, are available for download on Kindle. Paperback versions are available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.