Pray the Rosary by turning the pages

March 11, 2010

Bobz Book Reviews

Life of Jesus cover

“The Life of Jesus: An Illustrated Rosary,”

by Mary Billingsley

Artist Mary Billingsley has offered a wonderful gift to the world, a unique, new way to pray the Rosary that stirs the senses, touches the heart and renews the soul.

First, for those unfamiliar with the chain of beads or those who need a refresher course, she spells out the words of all the individual prayers, and in beautifully drawn info graphic style labels exactly how to use each portion of a Rosary.

Her clever paintings then accompany beautifully sounding, simple to grasp language for each prayer of each of the five decades of the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary that long have been part of the Catholic tradition, plus the newer Luminous Mysteries added by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

No Rosary needed

One doesn’t even have to have a Rosary to pray the Rosary with this gorgeous 56-page Eerdmans book that’s a lovely combination of art and text. Just read and pray and turn the page.

If you’re the type of person who takes comfort in your Rosary beads, you’ll get new meaning by reading along as you pray as you always have.

Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Benedict Groeschel notes in a foreword that Billingsley crafted this work for children, but that “children of all ages” will find value in the rich text and colorful, creative paintings that depict scenes from the Scripture.

Paintings that fill the senses

While the text tells the Bible stories in plain English, the paintings are busy, eclectic works that force readers to scour every corner for the little  details that Billingsley has dropped in to make elaborate scenes.

They are the fruit of a unique process in which Billingsley takes found objects — an old gate, a hand-made crutch, a hunk of ribbon — and creates a shrine of a scene from Jesus’ life — Finding Jesus in the Temple,  the Marriage Feast at Cana, the Last Supper — which she then paints.

Every time you look at one of the scenes you’ll see something you hadn’t seen before.

The whole package of words and pictures makes almost sensory overload, but what it really does it add additional meaning to what can often can become prayer by rote. — bz

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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