Mike Aquilina

Undisputed

Monday October 06th 2008, 10:31 pm

At the Disputations blog, John da Fiesole (aka Tom Kreitzberg) has posted a kind review of my book Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols.

Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols … is a wonderful collection of illustrated essays on twenty-five Christian symbols used — in churches, on sarcophagi, as decoration, as graffiti — in the first few centuries of the Church…

We’re all familiar with some of the symbols he describes — the cross, certainly, and the fish, and I’d guess we’ve all seen the Chi-Rho or labarum even if we don’t know what’s up with it — but I suspect few of us see them in quite the way our ancestors did.

A book about symbols relies heavily on the illustrations, and Lea Marie Ravotti does a marvelous job. Nearly every page has a drawing of an ancient fresco, statue, coin, carving, or mosaic; the styles are as varied as the sources. From the wall scratchings of a pilgrim to the sculpting of an artistic genius, they make plain the rich symbolic heritage Christians may, and ought to, claim in our own age of imagery.