184 Colorful, Informative Trading Cards are a Fun Way to Learn About the Lives of the Saints!
Cards have the size and feel of trading cards with glossy finish and format
Each card contains a short biography, statistics, and a brief catechism
Use as rewards or incentives in games or for completed assignments
Holy Traders® saint trading cards entered the home and classroom in 1994. Designed to inspire children to hear their personal call to holiness, the cards have been featured in Our Sunday Visitor, Catholic Digest, and the Knights of Columbus Columbia Magazine.
Every card features a Saint, Blessed, or Feast Day from the Catholic Church calendar and includes a short biography, statistics, and a brief catechism.
Parents and teachers can use the cards for rewards, incentives for work completed, or prayers learned. Children can organize and display their collection of colorful glossy cards on their desk, in clear binder pages, or wherever kids keep their prized possessions.
Don’t be surprised at what kids will achieve to complete their collection!
Holy Traders, trading cards featuring Catholic saints, are becoming hot property among card-carrying and trading youth. Meet the Knight who’s behind the project.
By Judith Finley Smith
It isn’t the typical face on the typical holy card: no flowing robes, no halo. No eyes gazing heavenward. Just a black and white photo of a man staring back at you — Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.
He’s handsome. He’s young. His gaze is compelling. The overall impression is one of masculinity and self-confidence, not the ethereal quality you usually associate with holy cards and their subjects.
But something different than the typical holy card is what Jim Shanley had in mind when he created Holy Traders, 40 trading cards with saints and religious on them. Shanley wanted to grab the attention of today’s Catholic kids and focus it on the Church’s spiritual heroes and heroines: new saints, old saints, the Blessed Mother, angels, and even some of the beatified.
He figured trading cards, one of the kids’ favorite formats, would do the trick. The saints would provide a counterpoint to traditional trading cards that feature not only sports figures, but disturbing role models such as ugly and violent videogame characters and even famous murderers.
Holy Traders, Shanley reasoned, could even encourage some children to consider a religious vocation. But the trading cards would have to look and feel like the real thing to appeal to today’s sophisticated youngsters.
“The kids are so sharp. They’ll spot something that’s not genuine immediately — faster than we would as adults,” he said. “They’re really on the cutting edge of assimilation in our society. They’re two beats ahead of us.”
Shanley, 43, a member of Trinity Council 4839 in Boynton Beach, Fla., got a flash of inspiration on the eve of St. Valentine’s Day in 1992. He was standing near his dining room table when it came. “It was simply the melding of holy cards and trading cards together,” he said. “It came into one and I thought: Why not?”
After telling his wife Betsy, Shanley called Tom DiPace, a sports photographer involved in the trading card business. The two knew each other through Shanley’s work as a photo processor. DiPace told him it was a good idea. Edgar Bushey, owner of a local religious goods store, enthusiastically agreed.
Next Shanley researched trading cards at the Boynton Beach Library using a computer database. He found rabbi cards in in Philadelphia and Bible bubble gum cards in Alaska but no cards anywhere that featured saints. Convinced his idea was unique, Shanley took the next step.
“I just started studying cards: baseball, basketball, hockey, television show cards, all kinds of different cards to see what I liked.” What he liked, and adapted for the saints was a sports card featuring a angled text on the back with a picture of a four-sided frame. It gave him the look he was striving for — eye-catching but not gimmicky.
Artwork came from a variety of sources: the public domain, religious news services, and donations from supportive religious communities and shrines. Artist Robert Lentz loaned him icons of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Martin de Porres.
The “Check it Out” box on the back of each card defines a wide-ranging list of Catholic words and terms. Shanley said he included information on indulgences and various devotions at the inspiration of Father Timothy Sockol, a priest of the Palm Beach Diocese and a member of the Miami Beach (Fla.) Council 3270. A favorite of Shanley’s is the devotion to Divine Mercy propagated by Blessed Maria Faustina.
“These are things that the kids should know about,” he said. Shanley chose quotes that are Christ-centered and positive, such as St. John Bosco’s “Any boy in trouble is a friend of mine” and St. Francis de Sales’ “The measure of love is to love without measure.” He let the saints speak for themselves, directly to the children.
“Each card was a work of the Spirit,” said Shanley, who created Holy Traders at his dining room table to the accompaniment of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
“A few just came together,“ said Shanley. But most took an average of 20 hours. At times he labored over a sentence for an hour or more. “I would work feverishly for a week and then there’d be nothing for two months. Keeping Bishop Keith Symons of Palm Beach informed and following Church publishing guidelines were high priorities.
Betsy Shanley and friends from his rosary prayer group helped research and write the text for several cards. But they mainly acted as spiritual underwriters, supporting him with prayer during the two-year project.
Deciding which saints to include in Holy Traders was easy for Shanley. He looked for saints with stories children could easily identify with. He targeted saints who faced problems familiar to children. “I wanted to find the crosses the saints picked up,” Shanley said.
Young role models were naturals for the collection: St. Dominic Savio, St. Therese Lisieux (the Little Flower), St. Maria Goretti, St. Dymphna, Blessed Laura Vicuna, and Blessed Giorgio Frassati. Some worked with youth such as St. Elizabeth Seton, St. John Bosco, and St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello.
Others have a family connection in children’s mind: the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and Christ’s grandparents, Sts. Anne and Joachim.
Shanley, a gentle, soft-spoken man, is the father of two young daughters. He’s lectured at his parish church, St. Thomas More, for 19 years. About 10 years ago he applied to a seminary, but a mix-up in his paperwork stalled the process. “My entire file was misplaced,” Shanley said. He would have had to start the process over from scratch. At that point he did a lot of soul searching and decided God had other plans for his life.
Five years passed before he met Betsy, who at the time was an Episcopalian. After their prayer group’s pilgrimage to Medjugorje and her conversion, they were married. Today she helps run the family’s business that distributes Holy Traders.
Shanley said his biggest surprise in all this is the number of adults who are embracing Holy Traders.
Jesuit Father Harold Cohen of EWTN’s A Closer Walk is one of them. “I think having these cards is a great idea,” he said. “I think these cards can be a source of inspiration and grace for those who receive them, and a wonderful way to learn about the saints and especially the new blessed. And they’re good way to learn about the faith through the “Check it Out” boxes.”