Friday 15 February 2019

Rome: A Pilgrim's Companion - David Baldwin - CTS Christian Shrines Series

Rome: A Pilgrim's Companion
CTS Christian Shrines Series
David Baldwin
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860823251
eISBN 9781784693077
CTS Booklet D676

This is the sixth book in the CTS Christian Shrines Series that I have read. I have long had an interest in Pilgrimage. I have written about personal pilgrimage, and desire for pilgrimage previously. While in university doing a Religious Studies Degree with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought I would have loved to have had this book, other in this series, and many from the CTS catalogue. I love a lot about this book, and this series. I love that the book can be used as a guide to plan and execute a pilgrimage. I have never been to Rome, and it is unlikely I ever will. This book allows me to virtually go on tour to Rome. I have read this book once and used adaptive technology and listed to it after finishing reading it. Having done several courses in both church and art history, while listening to this book I just closed my eyes and went on pilgrimage in my mind. I also love learning about the history, the devotion, and the prayers associated with Christian shrines. And Rome is one of the most important sites in Catholic tradition. And in this specific volume I love the prayers scattered throughout the text. I have copied a few into my journal and plan to use them often. David has written many of the books in this series and this one is one of the best so far.  The book is written to be a companion for visiting the eternal city but can be read an enjoyed even if you never plan to make it to Rome. The sections in this volume are:

Rome - The Eternal City
The Beginning
     Domine Quo Vadis?
     The Catacombs
     Three Special Places
Rome Today
     Weekly Events
     The Vatican
St Peter’s Basilica
     Some History
     Ground Level
     Below Ground
     Above Ground
Our Lady In Rome
     St Mary Major
     Four Historical Marian Churches
Pilgrimage To The Seven Churches
     St Paul’s Outside The Walls
     Basilica Of St Sebastian
     St John Lateran
     The Holy Cross In Jerusalem
     St Lawrence Outside The Walls
The Saints In Rome
Journey’s End
Suggested Itineraries
Rome - A Timeline

This volume begins with these words:

“There is no other place in the world such as Rome that portrays the story of Christianity - and the human condition - on such an expansive and vivid, yet compact tapestry. It presents a wealth of physical evidence reaching back through the millennia, and in so doing, evokes many emotions, rekindles many memories, and brings to light fresh sentiments and perspectives about one’s Christian faith, as seen through the places, people and events - past and present - that drove it forward, and continues to do so, in such a powerful and enduring manner.”

And that is the sense the reader gets from this volume. It is part travel guide, part art history, and part prayer book. For those planning on going to Rome, you can follow specific plans outlined in this volume, or you can pick and choose and build your own tour based on the information contained within. It also has clear information of specific events that take place and when that would be of interest. There are three separate pilgrim paths you could choose to follow: Our Lady in Rome, The Pilgrimage to the Seven Churches, and The Saints in Rome.

At the end of the volume is a brief timeline of Rome. And an excellent index. The index has three sections, Index of Churches and Basilicas, Index of Places, and an Index of People. When you consider the information presented in this volume and how it is presented, and combine that with the prayers and meditations throughout the book, it is in many ways an essential guide for those going in person to Rome, and a wonderful resource for those of us who will experience Rome through the book alone.

The CTS Christian Shrines Series seems to have two main styles of books. Pilgrimage companions and books focusing on the message from the shrine. This book is from the first category. And from the three I have read so far the best yet. There are also numerous other books from CTS that could support your quest for knowledge on pilgrimages and Christian shrines. This was a wonderful read, and I look forward to exploring more in the Christian Shrines Series. And highly recommend this wonderful series and specifically this excellent volume. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Other Books in the CTS Christian Shrines Series:
Message of Assisi
Message of Fatima
Message of Guadalupe
Message of Walsingham
Santiago: Santiago de Compostela - The Pilgrim Way of St James

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