During The Advent and Christmas season, we Catholics ponder the mysteries of our faith, marveling at God's coming among us as a baby with very humble beginnings.

The story of Christ's crucifixion emphasizes his very humiliating death:  he was treated as a criminal and executed in a very inhumane manner. But the crucifixion itself is not a mystery. There is physical proof that the stories of the Passion and death of the Lord that are contained in the Gospels are full of actual historical fact.

witnesses to mystery

Witnesses to Mystery: Investigations into Christ's Relics shows, through detailed photographs and diagrams, the scientific and historical proofs of these events.

This fascinating book is packed with information that a reader might expect to find only in scholarly books or journals. Author Grzegorz Górny presents this information in an engaging style that combines history, anthropology, biology, chemistry, and more. This interdisciplinary approach to the subject brings the facts about each relic to life and shows how the histories of the various relics are interconnected as well as affected by world events.

Sample of the beautiful aret included in the book Witnesses to Mercy Sample of the beautiful aret included in the book Witnesses to Mercy

As you read this book, you can't help but be convinced of the reality of the Gospel events and intrigued by the history of each of the relics studied. These include the Shroud of Turin, the True Cross and Holy Nails, the Crown of Thorns, and others.

I have been captivated by the image on the Shroud of Turin and its history for a long time, but I had no idea that many of these other relics existed. The author explains why such relics had to be kept closely-guarded secrets and demonstrates how many medieval artists were clearly influenced by the images of Christ on the Shroud and other relics.

The large-format book is filled with the beautiful, detailed work of photographer Janusz Rosikoń, who spent more than two years on a pilgrimage to capture images of the relics and the awe-inspiring churches, cathedrals and chapels that house them.

Witnesses to Mystery would make a wonderful gift for history buffs as well as anyone interested in religious art.

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Copyright 2013, Barb Szyszkiewicz