Book Recommendations from a Sacred Artist

Many of you have asked me…

…which books I recommend, so I have complied together a list below that I hope you find helpful — perfect timing as we are nearing summer!

Books that Help You Understand the Faith more Deeply through Beauty:

1. The Word on Fire Bible – The Gospels

Word on Fire

This absolutely beautiful collection of the gospels is a source of scripture like no other. Word on Fire has done an absolutely astonishing job at using sacred art, poetry, and theological reflections from renowned Saints/authors, to walk people through the life of Christ. This book takes the text of the gospels and magnifies them with reflections of beauty that turn the entire gospel into a tangible work of art. If you are looking for a new bible that will draw you deeply into the beauty of the faith and deeply touch your heart with powerful reflective discussion, check out this resource.

2. The Journey of Desire – Searching for the Life We’ve Only Dreamed Of

John Eldredge

This powerful book dives deep into the desires of the human heart and the ways our desires point us to the divine & the glory we are made for. Beauty has this unique ability to awaken ache and reveal to us our God-given desires. This book does a fantastic job at articulating those human desires, what to do with them, and how to let them lead us to virtue and fullness of life.

3. The Return of the Prodigal Son – A Story of Homecoming

Henri J.M. Nouwen

This powerful text takes its readers through the story of the Prodigal Son as told in Luke’s gospel. Inspired powerfully by Rembrandt’s painting of this parable, the author elaborately unfolds his artistic revelations and what it means to be the Prodigal Son, the Elder Son, and the Father in our lives.

4. Discerning the Will of God – An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making

Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV

As most people do, we are constantly faced with difficult decisions throughout life, and discerning the will of God can be difficult to do on our own. The discernment process can often times be difficult to navigate, but this book provides a great guide and helpful assistance in how to follow God’s will in our lives. If you are in need of some clarity with how to know the Lord’s callings this book is a great resource.

5. The Book of Joseph

José A. Rodrigues 

This book does a wonderful job at depicting the beauty of St. Joseph’s life through the accounts of different mystics. The book beautifully reveals the hidden life of this well beloved Saint, the Head of the Holy Family. It also features beautiful sacred artwork of Saint Joseph from several artists within the text, including a few of my own.

6. The Life of Saint Joseph

Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B.

Similar to the previous text, this book beautifully captures the hidden life of Saint Joseph through the accounts of several mystics. If you have a desire to learn more about this great Saint and to grow closer to him throughout this year of Saint Joseph, I highly suggest reading this book.

Books that Discuss Beauty & Art in the Church:

1. How Catholic Art Saved the Faith – The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art

Elizabeth Lev

This text shares an account of the ways sacred art has played a role in the Church and the ways beauty has been utilized to affirm her teachings throughout the centuries. If you are interested in sacred art and the ways its beauty has powerfully impacted our Church’s history, then this book is for you.

2. Aesthetics – Volume I

Dietrich von Hildebrand

This book is one of my absolute favorites. Hildebrand presents a powerful and compelling discussion on beauty’s centrality in the arts, but also in  philosophy, theology, and ethics. The book dives deep into the ways the beauty leads humanity to the divine. If you have a desire to learn more about the objective nature of beauty and its relationship to truth, then I highly suggest reading this book.

3. Beauty – What it is & Why it Matters

John-Mark L. Miravalle

Similarly, this text also explores the rich conversation about beauty’s relationship with truth and goodness, and the ways they lead humanity to the divine. If this interests you and you would like to join in on the discussion, we will be having two virtual book studies about this book on May 11th and May 14th. Click the links to learn more. Purchase the book here.

4. Art & Prayer – The Beauty of Turning to God

Timothy Verdon

In this book, Verdon discusses the ways that art leads and teaches us how to pray. He explains the ways that beauty leads us into contemplation and creative responses of prayer, and the ways that prayer can become the fruit of a sanctified imagination.

5. Beauty Will Save the World – Rediscovering the Human in an Ideological Age

Gregory Wolfe

This text similarly discusses the ways beauty leads the human heart but with a specific focus on its saving power in our culture and the world. With his zealous case for beauty, Wolfe seeks to enrich the language of civil discourse and strive for cultural revival. He explains how our public discourse is dominated by warring factors with little regard to truth, and so we are in desperate need of beauty to lead us in the true way of life.

6. What No Eye Has Seen…Visual Theology of the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls

Edmund Power

This book takes us through a visual and contemplative walk through the art of St. Paul’s Basilica. If you love studying the art within cathedrals and the ways intentional artistic design illustrates the eternal beauty of the faith, consider this text.

7. CREATED – In the Beginning God [Created] – Bridging the Gap Between Your Art and Your Creator

Likable Art

This amazing book by Likeable Art reads like a captivating magazine and compiles together insights from 62 different catholic artists/creatives. Each page is rich with captivating artwork/photography alongside some brief powerful thoughts from faithful missionaries of beauty. Watch the book’s trailer here to learn more about the inspiration behind the creation.

Books that Discuss The Beauty of the Body:

1. A Body for Glory – Theology of the Body in the Papal Collections, The Ancients, Michelangelo, and John Paul II

Elizabeth Lev José Granados

This short text studies several famous sculptures and paintings of the human figure and explains the importance of the beauty of the human body. Referencing wisdom from the Ancients, Michelangelo, and John Paul II, this book provides a beautiful study on the human body in artistic expression.

2. Sermons on the Song of Songs – Volume I

Saint Bernard Clairevaux

Join this renowned Saint through his reflective sermons on the book of Song of Songs and its relationship with beauty and the divine.

3. Redeemed Vision – Setting the Blind Free from the Pornified Culture

Steve Pokorny

Throughout this text, Pokorny shares the story of one man’s journey from the toxic nature of a oversexualized culture, to the light of beauty regarding the human body and human sexuality. He talks about the importance of a transformed vision and perception of beauty in regards to the human body, which has been attacked by our “pornified culture.”

4. Theology of the Body Explained – A Commentary on John Paul II’s “Man and Women He Created Them”

Christopher West

If you are at all familiar with John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, but haven’t had time to read the original text, then consider this simplified commentary text. Christopher West does an excellent job of simplifying the heart of this study and sharing his own personal revelations about the truths of the human body.

Book Resources for Artists

1. Anatomy – A Complete Guide for Artists

Joseph Sheppard

This is a great resource for artists interested in studying anatomy, the structure of the human body, and perfecting their form. The majority of the book is visuals and drawings of the different parts of the human figure accompanied by labels and brief artistic guides.

2. William Bouguereau – The Essential Works

Frederick C. Ross & Kara Lysandra Ross

For just about any of your favorite artists, you can find beautiful books like this one that are full of their most famous works. William Bouguereau is one of my absolute favorite artists, and I love referencing this book for inspiration or to simply admire his lovely work.

Now you have a great list for your summer reading to get started on!! Have some other great recommendations?? Comment them below!

Kate Capato

Kate is a Sacred Art Painter, Inspirational Speaker, and Faith-filled Movement artist on a mission to spread God's love through beauty! Her inspiration comes from prayerful encounters with the Lord, and the rich traditions of our Catholic faith. When she's not creating something faith inspired, Kate is often traveling all over the world with her hubby soaking in the wonders of God's creation, or spending time with family and friends to live every moment to the fullest. To see her work, visit her portfolio below and share in this mission of spreading truth and goodness.

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