Do the saints in heaven see and know all that we are doing? If so,…
Teen artist helps young readers foster a relationship with the saints
One of the perks of working for a publishing company is the complimentary copy that each employee receives of every book that comes off the OSV presses. The result is that I have piles of faith-based reading materials at my fingertips.
In the well-put-together “I’m Catholic, Now What?,” Shaun McAfee shares the basics of the Faith for Catholic neophytes. “The Way of the Cross with St. John Paul II” by Father Herbert Nina is ideal for Lent. I’m also loving “Discipleship Parenting: Planting the Seeds of Faith” by Kim Cameron-Smith.
But my absolute favorite book from this year so far is only 24 pages and 80 words long. And my kids love it, too. It’s “Glory Be Saints A to Z” by Rebecca Pohlmeier, a children’s board book that features one of Rebecca’s signature saint illustrations per letter of the alphabet. From cover to cover, the book ranges from St. Augustine to St. Zelie Martin, with 24 holy men and women in-between. It’s sturdy and colorful — great for little fingers and growing brains.
And I don’t just love the book — I’m also a big fan of the author! I’ve been blessed to know Rebecca since she was 2 years old and would hide behind her mother’s legs when they would visit the office of the Arlington Catholic Herald in Virginia, where I worked and talked baseball with her dad for many years. As she grew up, I would babysit Rebecca and her brothers and sisters, and hang out with the family. I served as her confirmation sponsor. And then — bringing our relationship full circle — she visited us in Indiana a couple of summers ago to babysit our then-1-year-old son. Isn’t life beautiful?
Rebecca is now an 18-year-old high school senior, the oldest of seven children, and the owner of the Glory Be Saints business and brand. Her venture got its start two years ago when, looking for a way to raise money to attend WorkCamp 2018 — a weeklong summer service trip operated by the Diocese of Arlington’s youth ministry program — Rebecca set up an Etsy shop to see if anyone would buy her sketches of saints. They did. Within a matter of weeks, she had the trip covered. Taking this as a positive sign, she kept drawing.
Rebecca’s Etsy shop now offers more than 90 downloadable images of saints, plus 17 different vinyl stickers and 12 physical prints. She has completed more than 1,000 sales and has produced two calendars for OSV (2019 and 2020). She even does custom orders, so if there’s a saint you love, but which is not listed on her site, just ask her, and she’ll add it to the list. (My family has done this.)
Using an Apple pencil, Rebecca creates her drawings with precise lines and small details that help identify each holy man and woman (think St. Cecilia holding a harp and St. Thérèse of Lisieux carrying a crucifix and roses). And the colorful drawings serve as an excellent way to introduce little ones to our faith’s holy heroes.
In a 2018 interview, Rebecca was asked if she planned to expand her drawings beyond those of just the saints. She answered: “I can’t imagine doing this with anything else. I have such a connection to the saints, praying to them and learning from them.”
And, really, that’s what makes her whole venture all the more beautiful and worth supporting. Rebecca is not just physically producing pictures of the saints. She is growing in relationship with them as she brings them to life on the page — a relationship that she then hopes will spill over into the lives of those who acquire them. It’s art and evangelization, wrapped into one kid-friendly, adorable and inspiring package.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.