In the wide-ranging and lavishly illustrated volume, "Full of Grace," architectural historian Judith Dupre - author of the best-selling "Churches" - examines the biblical role, theological importance and lasting cultural impact of the Virgin Mary.
The text is divided into 59 brief chapters - one for each bead of the traditional Marian Rosary - interspersed with full-color reproductions of great artworks like "The Ghent Altarpiece," Michelangelo's Pieta and Giotto's famed frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel.
Writing in clear, evocative prose, Dupre describes what life might have been like for a girl of Mary's age, class and religion in Palestine at the time of Christ. She then brilliantly explicates the 13 sections of the Bible in which Mary is mentioned and tackles the complex background of the various Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church that were promulgated after the Council of Ephesus, in the year 431, at which Mary was declared Theotokos, the "Mother of God."
Drawing upon her own experiences and beliefs, Dupre introduces many stories that tie Mary's world to contemporary concerns - parenthood, loss, divorce, creativity and the dignity of work.
"Two thousand years after her brief life on Earth," Dupre asserts, "Mary is still very much alive."
Intellectually stimulating and visually stunning, "Full of Grace" is a timely work of reflection, especially for people of faith, during the upcoming holiday season. It gives a vivid portrait of the Virgin Mary both as a biblical figure and as a beacon of inspiration for a wide range of individuals throughout the world and throughout much of history.