Young Faces of Holiness, Modern Saints in Photos and Words

Book cover: 'Young Faces of Holiness, Modern Saints in Photos and Words'
Ann Ball
Our Sunday Visitor
Number of pages: 
236 pages
Grade / Age level: 

If you want to go to sleep, don't read Young Faces of Holiness by Ann Ball. The stories are absolutely fascinating. The thirty-five stories include young people from all walks of life and countries of the world who are either Blessed, Venerable, or candidates for canonization.

In a world that feeds the imagination of children to think only of themselves, this book is a refreshing anecdote to the me-ism of our modern culture. Ann Ball does a marvelous job of showing the spiritual development of these young saints. They too struggled with their faults. At the same time, they are a source of hope, because they chose to suffer or even die for Christ. We need to be reminded over and over again to strive to achieve the Divine Smile in the midst of crosses and suffering. Many of them did nothing extraordinary in terms of the world. They wanted to love God to the best of their ability. For example, although Annie Zelikova lay dying in terrible pain from tuberculosis, she was known for her constant smile. She said, "I must smile to my last breath." Another young candidate for sanctity, Gerard Raymond, wrote, "Help me, O Jesus, to love You more and more."

After reading just one or two stories, we are forced to make an examination of conscience and ask ourselves, "If they can conquer their faults, then surely I can conquer mine and strive to achieve the same attitude as these children." Although no reading level is suggested, the average 4th grader could probably read it. Since most children's comprehension level is far beyond their reading level, this book would also make an ideal read aloud to younger children. For many young children seeing pictures of these children will be an eye-opening experience. Other young people their own age tried to be holy.

Because a few of the children experienced violent deaths, you may wish to skip those stories for young children. Both Maria Goretti and Blessed Antonia Mesina were brutally murdered and died defending their purity because of their love of Christ.

Note from the Webmaster: I would like to suggest that this book is ideally suited to pre-teens and teenagers (approximately 6th grade and up) who will be able to reflect on the heroism of these children under difficult circumstances (and sometimes extreme suffering) and be inspired to apply some measure of that heroism to their own lives.

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