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Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints Paperback – July 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Young people and others will appreciate another book that matters, in both content and design: Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints, by Colleen Swaim. This book is a gem, plain and simple. Here are just three of the best elements: *the book include several well-known saints, like St. Dominic Savio and St. Maria Goretti, but these bios aren’t the “same-old” facts. Swaim infuses the stories with a fresh, invigorating voice that shows these remarkable people as more 3-dimensional than the usual narratives. *the bulk of the book is new-to-most saints, or saints most will only have a passing knowledge of, from St. Kitizio of Africa to Blessed Chiara of Italy, and many others. Their stories are told in a way that makes Ablaze a must-read. It truly inspires a sense of longing for holiness. *each saint/chapter ends with “saintly challenges,” offering readers a chance to apply the lessons of the saint’s life to his or her own, through media, prayers and recipes. Think trying a homemade chai tea recipe to give as a gift after reading about St. Alphonsa from India, or being challenged to put into practice a daily schedule to emulate St. Stantislaus. There are movie suggestions, simple virtue development ideas, and tons of other great ideas and challenges. (Nancy Piccione Catholic Post, the Diocese of Peoria, IL 2011-07-08)

Let’s hear it for teens ― Thanks to a five-year strategic pastoral plan, this year will be devoted to teens and young adults in the arch. The aim is a spiritual awakening for youth, so they’ll become wholehearted Catholics. How about role models who have already made the journey? Here’s a collection of stories about young heroes for inspiration: ""Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints," by Colleen Swaim“Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints” by high school teacher Colleen Swaim, is about eight teenagedsaints or “blesseds” recognized officially by the church. (Of course there are many more whose names we’ll never know.) Three of Swaim’s subjects were from Italy, and the other five from Chile, Uganda, Poland, India and Spain. The youngest is 11-year-old St. Maria Goretti. Swaim writes about some who were obvious saints from the get-go, like Dominic Savio who served Mass daily at age five. Or Stanislaus Kostka, a home-schooled kid in 1564 who levitated during Mass at age 14. Or young Kizito. He lived in Uganda and was a page in the court of an evil king who also happened to be a pedophile. Kizito, newly baptized at age 14, went singing to his martyrdom, along with 15 other boys and young men, St. Charles Lwanga and some adult Christians. But when Juanita Solar was a youngster, she was rich, spoiled and had temper tantrums. (Nothing too saintly there.) A typical student, she called her boarding school “a dungeon,” and hated to go back after summer break. People can change. Juanita entered a Carmelite convent at age 18 and while her life was brief, today she’s known as the “St. Teresa of the Andes.” The most recent addition to this select company is Chiara “Luce” Badano. Called “a saint of our times,” she’s been chosen by Pope Benedict as one of the patrons for World Youth Day 2011. Before she died of bone cancer at age 18, she “lived the Gospel” doing acts of love for others. She appeared average ― hanging out in coffee shops with friends, playing tennis and swimming. She might even be called “the saint who flunked high school math.” She offered all her suffering to God, and 20 years after her death, in 2010, she was named Blessed Chiara. Swaim has arranged her appealing book with lots of extra tidbits from helpful definitions and photos to brief discussion-starters, saintly challenges and prayers. As the author says, “Be who you should be, and you will set the whole world ablaze!” It’s available for $12.99 + shipping from Liguori Publications, (800) 325-9521, or at amazon. com. (Delores Madlener Catholic New World, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago 2011-07-18)

About the Author

Colleen Swaim is a teacher of religion and English in the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, who encourages in young adults an understanding of the intense radicalism of sanctity and the dreary dullness of sin.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Liguori (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076482029X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764820298
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A native of the Washington, D.C. area and a graduate of The Catholic University of America, Colleen Swaim resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband Matt and their infant son. For the last seven years, she has taught high school English and religion in the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky. After going solo on two books exploring teenage saints, "Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints" and "Radiate: More Stories of Daring Teen Saints," she is excited to be collaborating with Matt on a new book considering the challenge of living as a young adult Catholic in college.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Lisa M. Hendey VINE VOICE on May 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you're a mom of teens like me, you're constantly on the lookout for books and resources that will help inspire your family. With this new book by Colleen Swaim -- her first, but hopefully just the start of a prolific writing career -- we discover a treasure of the faith for Catholics young and old.

Ablaze is aimed at teens, but truthfully, the resources contained within this book will aid anyone looking to grow in sanctity and faith. Colleen profiles the lives of eight young saints and blesseds, sharing their path to sainthood with accounts that are filled with insight and detail. She has a voice that truly manages to bring these stories to life. Perhaps it's her work as a high school teacher that has provided her with an insight into what will move, challenge and inspire young people. Ablaze is filled with so much more than simply biographical details, including sidebars, vocabulary descriptions, maps, sacramental lessons, and even recipes. Journal prompts, prayers, scripture references and reflection questions help the reader to fully interact with the content presented, applying it to the challenges of every day life.

Each of the saints profiled, though living in different periods of history, has a freshness and a relevance to the world our teens face today. Colleen Swaim aptly brings their heroic virtues to light in a way that will have teens (and grown ups too!), eagerly interacting with her content and asking for more. I give Ablaze my highest recommendation and will enjoy sharing it with my own son this summer.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Sweetums5 on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book based on the glowing reviews it had. Learning about the lives of these saints was definitely inspiring, but unlike the other reviewers, I was disappointed by the writing style. Unfortunately, certain story parts were vague and underdeveloped, and some information was presented in a way that left us confused. Also, some sentences, I felt, were "dumbed down" for teens, the book's target audience. They were written in a style that perhaps the author thought they could relate to. I don't think teenagers need to be patronized or talked down to. I think we should have more faith in their ability to recognize the truth and beauty of our Catholic Faith in simple, but beautiful language. Obviously, these holy TEEN saints (the subject of this book) were able to do just that.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Joan L. Kelly on June 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Ablaze" by Colleen Swain is exactly the type of book that I would recomend to my students when I was teaching. I would tell them that if they wanted to read exciting and inspiring stories, they should read about the lives of real people; people like saints and historical heroes. "Ablaze" definitely fits into this catagory. Our young people (and people of all ages) need more stories that highlight real role models such as the ones highlighted in this book. Too many of the people who are glorified in todays society are 'not' known for their virtous and decent lives. So I applaud anyone who gives our kids better and more wholesome exemples to follow. "Ablaze" also gives questions that make us ponder our own actions and encourages us to write our thoughts as we consider what we have read. Well written and Inspiring!!
--- [...]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Vogt on September 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Pope John Paul II, quoting St. Catherine of Siena, challenged thousands of young people at the 2000 World Youth Day shouting, "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!"

Colleen Swaim carries this challenge forward in her new book, Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints (Liguori, paperback, 132 pages). The book profiles eight young saints who exhibited fiery, zealous virtue all the way to their death. These eight were chosen as perfect models for modern young people both because of their young age and imitable lives:

- Saint Dominic Savio
- Saint Teresa of the Andes
- Saint Kizito
- Blessed Chiara Luce Badano
- Saint Stanislaus Kostka
- Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception
- Blessed Pedro Calungsod
- Saint Maria Goretti

Besides their virtue, each of these saints share two things in common: they each died young--just one lived past twenty--and almost all are modern, dying within the last hundred years.

But Swaim's masterful storytelling really brings them back to life. Saint biographies can sometimes be dry or stilted but this book is vibrant and breezy. In addition to the biographies, Swaim also includes helpful sidebars defining obscure terms and she's added 'extras' like recipes, prayers, and reflection questions.

Ultimately, these eight heroes show that holiness isn't some dusty old ideal but something that can be pursued and lived out in the present, by any young person. Ablaze is perfect for young people, particularly those in high school, but it would be just as good for anyone looking to discover some new heroes.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robb Holzrichter on June 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
How great is it to learn how others in God's army here on Earth are willing to go to such lengths to defend their faith! People of all ages throughout the ages have been ablaze with the Holy Spirit. Examples of such faith is described in this book in a way that not only draws the reader into the life of the saint, but also motivates the reader to consider their own readiness and willingness to be ablaze. This book is not only for Catholics, but for any Christian who is interested in modeling a heart ablaze with the Spirit!
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