How to Read Churches: A crash course in ecclesiastical architecture, by Dr. Denis McNamara is an essential resource for anyone that maintains an interest in studying the history of architecture as it applies to Christian churches. The book is essentially an indispensible tool to decipher the nuances of ecclesiastical buildings that provides a wealth of information to the reader on the historical, liturgical and architectural importance each little detail holds as part of the Christian heritage. Covering the history of architecture from the Temple of Solomon right up to the present day of post modern church construction, Dr. McNamara shows through brief explanations and associated illustrations the purpose and usage aspects of all of the fine details contained in ancient, medieval, gothic and modern churches. The book has another great value as well, its size allows the reader to carry the book around as a companion when exploring various churches of Christian denominations while on those vacations that allow exploration of various ecclesiastical sites often included on tours and other pilgrimage excursions. The fine points of historical architecture that cannot be answered by tour guides or docents can be solved by making Dr. McNamara’s pocket book part of every excursion that requires information on architectural and liturgical points of design and function.

Dr.McNamara has published multiple books on Christian architecture. Currently he is assistant director of The Liturgical Institute, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Ill. The book is published by Rizzoli International Publications, and can be purchased on Amazon.com. The cost of the book is $17.95, and is an investment well made for the nascent architect, liturgist or historian.

As one that is always interested in understanding the form and function of various parts of church structures, this book provides a synthesized but deeply accurate field source to assist students, and anyone interested in learning more about the way Christian churches have evolved and the symbolism that is active from ancient times to our contemporary age. Make this book part of your required resources; it will become a faithful, dog-eared companion that enriches architectural explorations for many years.

Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist that comments on Catholic topics and issues. Hugh studied both philosophy and theology at Philadelphia’s Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. He is currently in an advanced theology degree program at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia. He writes daily at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com , http://catholicsacredarts.blogspot.com . Hugh writes on his Irish Catholic parochial experiences at  http://graysferrygrapevine.blogspot.com.
He also contributes writings to The Irish Catholic, Dublin, British Broadcasting Company, and provides Catholic book reviews for multiple Catholic periodicals and publishers, including Vatican Publishing House.
Hugh lives in Delaware’s Brandywine Valley with his wife and daughter.
Hugh welcomes your comments via hugh.mcnichol@verizon.net.

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