COLUMBIA — Father Jeffrey Kirby has written a book that combines a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with commentary on Catholicism.
“Encountering the Lord in His Holy Court: A Walk Through St. Peter’s Basilica” (129 pages, $14.95) was published recently by Signo Press. The press is a division of Requiem Press, a Catholic publishing company based in the Kershaw County town of Bethune.
Father Kirby, the parochial vicar at St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken, said he had the idea for the book while he was a seminarian in Rome. One of his jobs was to give tours of the city’s holy places to English-speaking tourists, and the Basilica was a frequent destination.
“I’d seen a lot of books about St. Peter’s, but never one that attempted to tell the spiritual side of the Basilica’s story,” Father Kirby said in a recent interview with The Miscellany. “I think that’s the unique part of the book. I realized after a couple months of doing the tours that people were getting the history of the architecture, the art and the statues, but they weren’t getting the story of what inspired the Basilica. I was looking for a way to tell the story of the faith through the Basilica itself.”
As an example, Father Kirby said he uses the elaborate baptistry in the Basilica to describe the importance of the sacrament of baptism, and Michelangelo’s famous Pieta — a sculpture that depicts Mary holding Christ after he is taken down from the cross — as a vehicle to explain why Mary is so important to Catholics.
Father Kirby said the book took about a year to complete.
A reception will be held at 7 p.m. Aug 27 at Seawell’s, 1125 Rosewood Drive in Columbia, followed by another at 10 a.m. Aug. 28 at the same location.