An Introduction to the Liturgical Year. Text by Inos Biffi, Illustrations by Franco Vignazia. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995. 98 pp. $ 17.00
In God's House, compiled and with an introduction by Robert Coles. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996. 30 pp. $15.00
Here are two small books that will delight children as well as adults. In both, the full-colorillustrations are not incidental but at least equal to the written text in concept as well as space.
Introduction to the Liturgical Year is translated from Italian (first published 1994); Biffi is professor of medieval and systematic theology at the Theological University of Northern Italy, Milan, and Vignazia is an artist and secondary school art teacher. They have collaborated before in other similar books (My First Catechism, The Apostles Creed, The Sacraments, The Ten Commandments, and Prayer).
Every page is beautifully illustrated in the tradition of medieval manuscripts, with all text wrapped in the illustrations. Part One, Advent and Christmas, includes eleven sections, each about two pages, beginning with "He Will Come to Judge," "Vigilant Anticipation," "The Promised Redeemer," "The Tree of Jesse," and "Son of David, Son of Abraham." Then follow sections on the Christmas Season, Lent, Easter, the Easter Season, and finally "Some Solemnities in Ordinary Time" (Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, and Christ the King).
As might be expected from Italy, the authors write from a Roman Catholic perspective and out of a deep and rich visual tradition. Christians in the Reformed tradition will find very little dissonance, and very much nourishment, in reading and meditating (with or without their children) on the meaning of the liturgical year as taught so beautifully in this small book.
In God's House is an even smaller book, this time of sixteen children's drawings and their own explanations of them. In the Foreword, Dr. Robert Coles, well-known child psychologist, explains how he collected these drawings in witness to "how God powerfully informs their lives." Here is one description of a drawing by John, twelve years old: "This is a ladder going up to the clouds. When you get through the clouds, here is the path to God's house."