Image and Vision Reflecting with the Book of Kells
Publisher: Veritas Publications
Exploring the ‘work of angels’ in the Book of Kells
Review by Peter Costello
June 2022 The Irish Catholic
Rosemary Power has written two earlier books on the world of Celtic Christianity, one of which deals with Colmcille and Iona. She also lectures widely on themes in this area of scholarship to non-academic audiences, thus passing on the latest aspects of current research. Her new book derives naturally enough from her talks on the Book of Kells, which may have been created on Iona, and she proves a very enlightening guide for those wishing to seriously explore one of Ireland’s greatest treasures... Read full review of Image & Vision
Reflecting with the Book of Kells
Review by Mary Adamson
June 2022 Intercom
Despite all our hopes and aspirations for a happy post-pandemic 2022, we are acutely conscious that all is not well with our world. Our newspapers and our screens remind us that our world is beset with discord, humanitarian catastrophes and conflict. Our exposure, on a daily basis, to humanitarian disasters such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and our detailed consumption in real-time of the horrors of war, are potential disruptors to our communal peace of mind and our sense of a benevolent Creator. It can be tempting to retreat from present-day woes and seek solace and comfort in a putative glorious past, a time of saints and scholars. In that golden era of Irish history from the 7th to 9th centuries, monks in Ireland crafted some of the finest artefacts of medieval Christian art in the form of illustrative manuscripts and high crosses, such as the famous Book of Kells and the Celtic crosses of Monasterboice.
Interestingly, as if to validate the French writer, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s (1849) famous epigram ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’, Rosemary Power, in her exquisitely crafted and scholarly oeuvre, Image and Vision: Reflecting with the Book of Kells, acknowledges that political turbulence and social upheaval served as a backdrop to the production of the Book of Kells, one of the greatest works of art/theology of all time. It is thought that work on the manuscript was started around 800 CE on the island of Iona to commemorate Colmcille’s bicentenary. Viking raids on Iona and the subsequent plundering of their monastery forced the monks to flee. Bringing their most treasured possessions with them for safekeeping, they sought refuge in the newly constructed monastery in Kells where the precious masterpiece was finally completed. The cacophony of war and displacement of innocent people resonate with us today but this, however, is not the main focus of Power’s book. ... Read full review
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Concentrating on twelve of the magnificent illuminations in the Book of Kells, this beautiful book provides clear and accessible guidelines on ways to reflect and meditate on these illuminations and the scripture as a whole. The book contains original research, especially on some of the lesser-known illuminations, and is filled with fascinating analysis of this ancient and sacred work.
In Image & Vision: Reflecting with the Book of Kells, Rosemary Power shows how we can use the beauty, humour and insight of this ancient devotional work today to deepen our understanding of scripture and society.