It’s important for Catholic kids (and adults) to learn about the holy men and women who have gone before us and shown how to live a life devoted to love of God and neighbor. A new set of books on “God’s Superheroes” by Mary Bajda is designed to appeal to ages eight through teens and encourages young people to use their own gifts in service to God and others.
God’s Superheroes: Amazing Catholic Women and God’s Superheroes: Amazing Catholic Men each profile thirty-six individuals who are either canonized saints or on the road to sainthood. Each book also features a short explanation of the process involved in being declared a saint. The illustrations by Melinda Steffen are designed to represent comic-book characters or image stills from a modern animated movie. Two or three pages plus a full-page illustration are devoted to each holy person’s life. Each entry ends with a lesson we can learn from them and apply in our own lives.
Many popular, well-known saints are profiled. For women, these include St. Hildegard, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Joan of Arc, St. Therese, and St. Teresa of Calcutta. Among the men, famous saints include St. Anthony of Padua, St. Pio, St. Patrick, St. Peter, and St. Augustine.
The true delight in these books, however, is in discovering some lesser-known holy people who lived remarkable lives. Some of the women I learned about are Servant of God Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini (1928-2004) who was a visionary and friend of Padre Pio, Blessed Catherine Jarrige (1754-1836) who was a high-energy sister who hid priests during the French Revolution, and Servant of God Satoko Kitahara (1929-1958), who ministered to the poor.
In the men’s book, I enjoyed reading about Nicholas Black Elk (1866-1950), a Lakota medicine man who became Catholic and sought to unite Native American and Catholic practices; Guido Schaffer (1974-2009) who was a Brazilian doctor who worked with the poor and ultimately became a seminarian before his untimely death while surfing; and Jerome Lejeune (1926-1994), a French doctor who championed the rights of those with Down syndrome and the unborn. There were also many more interesting profiles.
One unusual editorial choice was to put the Blessed Mother as number thirty-five in the women’s book and St. Joseph as number thirty-five in the men’s book. I would have put them first in their respective books, but they are both known for their humility, so they probably wouldn’t mind being put near the end of the books. The holy men and women aren’t in any particular order.
God’s Superheroes: Amazing Catholic Women and God’s Superheroes: Amazing Catholic Men are both highly recommended. They would be great books to read with your children. Parents can also enjoy learning about these holy men and women and how they are role models for our lives.
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