A Visual Devotional: a book review

Iconography is an art-form rooted in Incarnation. Jesus, our God made flesh, showed us the image (eikon) of the invisible God (Col. 1:15).  Icons are symbolic depictions of Christ and the saints designed to be “windows of heaven” That is, they invite us to transcend the physical in our move towards the spiritual as we reach  for God.  They are a meeting place between heaven and earth (similar to prayer or Bible reading). An icon invites us to spend time with an image, not obsessing over brush strokes and the  skill of its author (artist), but the spiritual word beyond which it depicts.

iconsIconographer and author, Sr. Faith Riccio, Cj, is the iconagrapher behind  Icons: The Essential Collection.  The  book combines Sr. Riccio’s icons of Christ, the apostles, and saint of the church with Scripture, short bios and devotional selections from the tradition and contemporary selections, including authors like Henri Nouwen, M. Basil Pennington, Ernesto Cardenel, Jack Levison, Scott Cairns and Angela Alimo O’Donnell. This a gift book easily read through in one sitting; yet the images reflecting iconography of the Christian tradition and are invitations to encounter.

We meet images of Jesus, his Mother Mary and the Holy Apostles. We also meet saints East ( i.e. Anthony, the Cappadocians, John Chrysostom, Ignatius of Antioch) and West (Gregory the Great, Benedict, Francis). Riccio’s style reflects the iconography of the Eastern church (though she is a member of a Catholic Community in Massachusetts).

This is a beautiful book. Frederica Mathewes-Green writes the forward and Riccio provides a brief introduction. The scriptures, quotations and devotional selections are well chosen and Sr. Riccio’s icons (and close-up details) are beautiful. I say this as a lowly protestant who’s imagination is formed more by iconoclasm than icons (protestants after all protest). I don’t pretend to understand iconography, but as a lover of art and faith, I am moved by what these images evoke. I give this book four stars.

Note: I received this book from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest review.

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