Saint Mary’s Press of Winona, Minnesota has been publishing bibles for Catholic children and young adults for many years. This year, they released a fourth edition of their Catholic Youth Bible, which is available in both the NABRE and NRSV translations. Both hardcover and paperback editions are available. I borrowed a paperback NABRE copy from my parish, which will be giving these bibles as gifts to all 6th grade students in the religious education program. 

Supplemental Study Aids and Life Application Materials

I’m quite impressed with the amount of supplemental material in this bible. The text is full of informational sidebars and insets that apply scriptural passages to daily life and explain Catholic teachings. The original footnotes and cross references from the NABRE are all here, but the editors have replaced the NABRE book introductions with their own alternatives. The introductions are brief, and they quickly summarize the key message of the book, using examples from daily life. A few bullet-points emphasize key take-aways for how the book is relevant to the reader’s life. 

Introduction to the book of Amos

The introduction to the Psalms offers a superb overview of how to pray with the Psalms. It offers an index with suggested psalms for various emotions, life experiences, spiritual needs, and topics of reflection: 

As the last two photos illustrate, the text uses plenty of full-color printing and illustrations. There are also pages, sidebars, and borders that are designed to be colored by the reader:

The “Follow me” sidebar is designed to be colored.

At the beginning of the New Testament, I found a fantastic two-page illustrated summary of Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in the New Testament:

Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment.

Finally, in the back of the bible, there is an excellent section that covers the fundamentals of the Catholic faith: common prayers, the beatitudes, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, the cardinal and theological virtues, the precepts of the church, holy days of obligation, and many others. There are also brief sections on how to interpret the Bible as a Catholic, and brief overviews of the interplay between reason and revelation, scripture and tradition, etc. There’s even a guide on how to follow the practice of Lectio Divina.

One of the pages summarizing the Catholic faith

The final pages of the bible contain an index of Sunday readings, a glossary, a bible timeline, and an index of bible passages by topic. 

The supplemental materials bear a nihil obstat and imprimatur.

Physical Construction and Printing

This bible is well-built. The paperback cover feels stiff and sturdy, although it creases very easily like any other paperback. The cover is also hinged near the spine, which allows it to open flat more easily than a traditional paperback. Impressively, this bible also has a sewn binding — in a paperback! It’s built to stand up to a lot of use. 

The two main drawbacks are text size and lack of line-matching. The biblical text is very close to the size 8 font in my Cambridge REB. I would say the text in this Catholic Youth Bible is a hair smaller — maybe 7.5. Many of the information sidebars, insets, and introductions offer a larger font than the biblical text. The printing is not line-matched, so ghosted text from the opposite side of the page is visible. The printing offers good contrast, though, so I think the ghosting will be manageable for most readers. Young readers, who this bible is designed for, would probably have little trouble with either the text size or the ghosting.

Overall, I think this is an excellent resource for teens. It provides an impressive array of resources for getting to know the Bible and applying it to life.

6 thoughts on “First Look: Catholic Youth Bible from Saint Mary’s Press”

  1. This looks like a very nice bible! So glad to see things like this for youth.
    I have to say, I’m a little surprised they replaced the NABRE book introductions. I remember it being said that the NABRE text and accompanying notes had to be together is whatever edition it’s printed in. I guess the introductions don’t count then.

    1. I was surprised too. Maybe the USCCB will allow it if the introductions are replaced with other introductions that bear an imprimatur. I wonder if the same would be true of the footnotes. If a publisher produced a different set of footnotes which received an imprimatur, perhaps the USCCB would allow it to be published.

      I’m also curious what the NRSV version of this Catholic Youth Bible is like. Does it contain only the sparse textual notes from the NRSV, or did the editors produce a set of explanatory notes to accompany the NRSV text?

    2. You have no idea, even the NABRE audiobook edition contains all of the introductions, it is one of the longest books Audible has, and definitely the longest Bible at 134 hours!

  2. This sounds like a wonderful resource! I’m so gratified to see such efforts being put into a youth Bible! Those inserts and notes look very helpful, its clear that a lot of thought was given to them.

    Also, a sewn binding! On a paperback! For shame other Catholic publishers!

  3. I wish something like this bible was available when my children were still at home. Everyone needs help with the bible (it was written 3000 to 2000 years ago !!) young people need even more help or they get lost quick. This looks like Saint Mary’s Press did an outstanding job of filling this need.

  4. Thank you.. been looking for some sort of feed back on this bible.. I teach teens getting ready for Confirmation and have tried to find a good Bible for them.

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