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Critical Reception for “Man on Fire”

Readers responded enthusiastically to Man on Fire: The Life and Spirit of Norbert of Xanten., which was named 2020 Best Book by a Small Publisher in the Catholic Book Awards. The new biography reveals much for the scholar, student and general reader about this reformer, peacemaker, saint and founder of the globally influential religious order that bears his name to this day.

Early Praise for a Significant New Biography
Norbert’s saintly life and widespread accomplishments are little known compared to the later founders of the Dominicans, Jesuits and the like. “Man on Fire” puts Norbert on the map of history for 21st-century readers. The author portrays a man of and for God whose resilience, obedience, determination and creative and brilliant mind won a vast number of hearts and souls for Christ. Readers beware: Norbert’s influence is alive and active in these pages continuing to draw souls to a deeper and wider love of God and radical commitment to God’s plan.
– Catholic Book Awards (2020 Best Book by a Small Publisher)

“The perfect short introduction to St. Norbert – nobleman, courtier, priest, ascetic, reformer and peacemaker – whose life is all the more important today. This lively and beautifully written new book will bring his fascinating story to a new generation of seekers and believers.”
The Rev. James Martin, S.J., priest, author of “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” and “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.”

“Kunkel tells ... a brisk and vivid narrative designed to introduce readers to the unique story of Norbert’s life and the spiritual charisms of his order. It’s written to be accessible to college students, but takes the time to weigh the claims of various sources from the original vitae to current scholarship. The result is a quick and engaging life of a saint more people should know.

"Church history tells us this much: When the challenge comes, a Benedict, Francis, Claire, Dominic, Ignatius or Teresa arises. Given our current crisis, that means another Norbert walks among us, and Man on Fire reminds us why that should be of great comfort.
– Thomas L. McDonald,  National Catholic Register

“It is not often that one reads a biography of a saint who lived over 900 years ago and can find relevance and inspiration on every page. Tom Kunkel’s latest work, ‘Man on Fire,’ could just as easily be titled ‘Man for All Ages.’ From the very first page I knew this is a book I will recommend to anyone who has an interest in saints, miracles, demons and legends. But even more striking than accounts of three assassination attempts, the founding of an international congregation, and the backdrop of a Church in crisis, is the way the author brings to life a man who did not fit into any mold. He was a nonconformist in every sense of the word, and yet a stickler for adherence to Church teaching. He is as relevant today as he was at his death in 1134. In light of the present-day Church crisis, we are reminded that there have always been turbulent times in this Church, and there are always those whose faith and passion can serve as an inspiration – even when they lived so long ago.”
– President Mary Meehan, interim, Seton Hall University

Kunkel’s remarkable ability to help us know and understand Norbert – the man, priest, bishop and saint – makes a great contribution to all of us who have been or will be influenced in any way by the Norbertine family. If you are a graduate, a parent, a trustee, a teacher, a friend, a parishioner of an organization or group in which the mission is grounded in the Norbertine tradition (or intend to be involved), this book is essential. It is brief yet complete, factual yet nuanced with delightful descriptions and illustrations of Norbert, a saint of the Middle Ages – a reformer with a relevant message for our time. 

“For those of us who know something of Norbert and the Norbertines already, Kunkel’s contribution deepens our understanding – provides the aha! for the lived experience in the Norbertine ‘way.’ ‘Man on Fire’ enlightens, fills in the gaps, and lights the way for the reader’s efforts to embody Norbert’s message in one’s own life. For those who are just coming to know St. Norbert and his influence, this book can serve as a primer and great foundation for the journey. You will find it to be enjoyable and a source of personal and spiritual growth!”
– President Emeritus Rosalie M. Mirenda, Neumann University”

Boldly drawn, this original artwork has a unique fluidity that, even in limited color tones on cover, draws the eye not only to the cover, itself, but also into the drawing’s centerpiece depicting the Holy Spirit. 
– Catholic Book Awards (Cover Artwork)



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