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Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols Hardcover – September 15, 2008
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About the Author
Lea Marie Ravotti holds a master's degree in fine art from the University of Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic). Her paintings, drawings, and woodcuts are inspired by the traditions of Christian iconography.
More About the Author
In 2011 Mike was a featured presenter of the U.S. Bishops' Diocesan Educational/Catechetical Leadership Institute. He also wrote the USCCB's theological reflection for Catechetical Sunday in 2011.
His reviews, essays and journalism have appeared in many journals, including First Things, Touchstone, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, National Catholic Register, and Catholic Heritage. He contributed work on early Christianity to the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought.
Mike is a also poet whose works have appeared in U.S. literary journals and have been translated into Polish and Spanish. He shared songwriting credits with Grammy Award-winner Dion DiMucci on the forthcoming album "Tank Full of Blues."
Top Customer Reviews
When early uses of some symbols are more clouded in history he nicely gives some of the theories explaining their meanings. Often we also get references to writings of the Fathers of the Church along with others when it helps to illuminate how these symbols were used in liturgy or devotional practice. I really learned a lot from this book and while I had a general idea of meaning of many symbols I found a wealth of details. For example I will never look at the Ichthys when I see it on someone's bumper the same way. I knew how it came about and that it was a Greek acronym and often used in the early Church, but I had no idea about the Eucharistic overtones and some of the other theological depths involved. Being an ex-Navy Chief I was also pleasantly surprised to see how the anchor was another common symbol used and it's meaning.
This book is not meant to be an exhaustive reference of symbols used within the Church, but just the first four centuries.Read more ›
Easily one of my most anticipated books to read, Signs and Mysteries did not disappoint. I found within this small - almost pocket size - book encouragement, words of life, and a link to the community of Christ from long ago. At once, this book serves as a devotional, a plethora of ministerial ideas, and a short treatise on the history of the early Church. One can find within the pages a remembrance that the early Christian community was often illiterate, unlearned men and women who sought to worship their God in simplicity, adopting symbols for themselves to tell that story long before the canon was formalized. We must remember just how underground the first few centuries of Christianity really were - and this book takes you through a list of symbols and codes which served multiple purposes for the individual Christian and the community as a whole.
While many Protestants may fail to fully appreciate the adoption of symbols, some of them foreign to the Bible, appreciation should be given without remorse, to those early Christians who used these designs as decorations, or perhaps as the author states, `hastily and crudely scratched into plaster' to `to stand forever as a perpetual prayer...' They were more than that (a proclamation, the author writes) and indeed, while reading the book, I gained a better understanding of the primitive development of iconography.Read more ›
But Mr. Aquilina also explores a good many symbols that we may be only slightly, if at all, familiar with, especially explaining their connection to the early Christians. The ancient mythical Phoenix is, as St. Clement of Rome wrote, "a wonderful sign" of the resurrection. Then there is the Dolphin, an animal the ancient people..and many even today...considered the sailor's friend, a guide that would lead ships in danger to a safe harbor. So it was not difficult for early Christians to see the dolphin as a symbol of the Christ, "rescuer, guide and friend."
Each chapter is fairly brief and while the explanations may not be exhaustive, they are an excellent introduction to the subject. There are numerous, very nice, illustrations by Lea Marie Ravotti, in a brownish color that really makes them stand out clearly. Which leads to my only issue with this book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book is what i expected. The delivery was much earlier than the estimated date since the purchase.Published 6 months ago by Zaraza Friedman Dr.
We learn about the Ancient Greeks in school, but the teachers and books all stop in the early years of AD/CE. Read morePublished 23 months ago by K. Ann Seeton
This is the first time I am giving a review on a book that I did not read. I was looking forward reading this - but the print was so light that I gave up. Read morePublished 23 months ago by E. Murphy
This book has some illustrations in it and will spark some ideas for a tattoo. I was looking for some ideas for a tattoo and found out that some of the ideas I wanted before buying... Read morePublished on June 16, 2012 by Gary Wiley
I found this book very useful for my personal use, but especially in my CCD/Religious Education classroom. Read morePublished on January 25, 2011 by Zachary
This book is short but appears to be well written and lots of early sources are considered. I didn't think I was badly educated but I hadn't heard of the 'orant' before. Read morePublished on January 17, 2011 by Josi Martin
Mike Aquilina beautifully describes the ancient signs of our Catholic Faith while also giving us a tour of history. Read morePublished on October 24, 2009 by Taylor Marshall
I recommend this book. With our modern churches almost devoid of artistic decoration, this may be the only place you see these symbols. This book makes for an intersting read. Read morePublished on July 22, 2009 by Bernard Fischer