by Lisa M. Hendey
10/09/2007 / Book Reviews
Just in time for All Saints Day, the formidable partnership of Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua has joined forces again to create a new resource on the lives of the saints. Saints: Ancient and Modern (Viking Studio, March 2007, hardcover, 149 pages) offers the reader tremendous detail on the lives of over twenty saints, both well known and lesser known, who have an ongoing significance in today's modern world.
The roster of saints includes popular patrons such as St. Therese of Lisieux and less frequently discussed intercessors such as St. Ursula. The authors have divided the book into two chronological sections, with "Ancient" saints from pre-history to 1000 AD and "Modern" saints whose lives may have been more historically documented. The book also includes two wonderful appendix resources: a comprehensive list of written works by the saints included and an overview of the process of canonization.
For each saint memorialized in the book, a thorough chapter gives more than the typical "sound bite" overview of the saint's life. Along with chronological information, feast days, and information about patronage, a detailed biography is given including historical and legendary documentation. Each section includes an inspiring quote from the saint profiled and ends with a prayer or novena seeking the intercession of that holy man or woman.
What sets this book apart from the countless other resources on the saints is the stunning design and presentation of the content. From the small details such as layout and typeface to the incredible artistic images selected, Saints: Ancient and Modern is a work of art in and of itself. For each saint, co-author Sandra DiPasqua has selected either a painting or a photograph which truly speaks to the unique holiness of each individual. Another highlight of the book is the discussion of the reasons behind artistic depictions of these individuals. For example, why is St. Clare of Assisi frequently depicting holding the monstrance or why do portraits of St. Lucy show her holding a dish of eyeballs? These questions and more are answered thoughtfully and with an artist's insight and perspective.
Saints: Ancient and Modern is beautiful enough to grace your formal coffee table, but filled with so much information that you will want to use it as a frequent reference. It would make an excellent gift for any faith-filled person or those interested in learning more about the stories behind so much of the artwork that permeates our cultural world. This reviewer hopes that authors Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua will consider expanding their treatment of this topic with a sequel including more saints.
For more information on Saints: Ancient and Modern visit
Lisa M. Hendey, wife and mother of two sons, is the webmaster of http://www.catholicmom.com and the podcast host of http://www.catholicmoments.com. Visit her at http://www.lisahendey.com for more information.
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