Another Book Recommendation

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Speaking of books, I also found this book mesmerizing. It’s a lyrical, at times confessional read written by the late Denise Inge. I was intensely moved by this woman’s words. I initially picked up the book because I am working on a book on pilgrimage and I wanted to read accounts of people who had made a similar journey to the one I took in July. There was almost nothing, save this book, available. I started reading it because, just as I did, she made a personal pilgrimage to four ossuaries. The first two stops on her journey, were the first two on mine: Czermna and Sedlec. In her case, she was journeying to face the fear of her own mortality summoned forth when she discovered that she lived in a parish house that held an ossuary in its basement (I would be in absolute heaven were I so fortunate as to be gifted with care of an ossuary!).

While she and I may have stepped in the same places, submitted ourselves to experience of the same skulls and bones, our responses were markedly different. She wrestled with terror and I was brought to my knees by sublimity; at the same time her language is thoughtful and introspective and it made me more thoughtful and introspective about my pilgrimage too. I wish I could have had the opportunity to speak with her about her pilgrimage and mine and all the places we might have met in the middle. There is a simplicity in bone after all that reflects back everything we do not wish to allow ourselves to see. There is a profound truth in the stark realities of bone. She talks of the bare beauty of bone and my heart sings.

“The dead are not far from us, they cling in some strange way to what is most still and deep within us.” – W.B. Yeats

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Two Book Recommendations

Here are two awesome books about ossuaries and decorated skeletons–the Catacomb Saints so popular during the Counter-Reformation. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. The author has done an invaluable service in bringing these beauties to light once more. He approaches them as works of art — which I agree, they are—but opens the door to tasting and touching again the breath of the sacred, something ineffably profound, that led to their construction in the first place, and with that, a glimpse, perhaps a means toward reclaiming our sense of enchantment in the world.

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Heavenly Bodies by Paul Koudounaris

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The Empire of Death by Paul Koudounaris