For Your Gift-Giving Consideration

I’m basking in the delight of holiday bounty — what a fantastic family! — and among the items that recently took up residence among us here, I wanted to point out three particularly neat books. Margaret and I picked up The Timechart History of the World for the family; I wish I could use it in Early Church History, because its simultaneous display of events in nineteenth-century design and typography enchants and illuminates. Of course, it would be great to fine-tune and expand it with a fuller, more precise chronology, but it’s a lovely starting-point.

This summer at the Catholic Biblical Association meeting, I grabbed a copy of Saints: A Visual Guide; it gives capsule introductions to saints who figure prominently in the church’s iconographic tradition (and it catalogues the saints’ principal symbols). Before Christmas, Margaret and I discovered Saints: A Year in Faith and Art, a similar book oriented toward the kalendar. Both these books are visually rich; I particularly relish the latter’s fussy unwillingness to acknowledge the plebian holy cards it uses as illustrations. No, in Saints: A Year in Faith and Art they’re “popular sacred images.” That makes me feel a lot more elegant about the pasteboard pictures I sometimes order from eBay.

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