A Very Byzantine Journey
Author J Richard Smith
Publisher Sacristy Press £14.99
This book records the author’s adventures when visiting some of the sites of the key events detailed in the Gospels, illustrated with icons portraying them. First come some brief comments on iconographic art, and on the ‘Cloth of Edessa’ and how it has influenced the depiction of the face of Jesus in icons. The travels then described include visits to Istanbul, Rome and Manopello (to see the cloth), Cairo (exile of the Holy Family), and key gospel-event sites in Palestine. For each site there is an accompanying icon illustration. The journeyings, which often involve hiking considerable distances across country, are described in great detail with explanations of ease or difficulties of travel and problems encountered along the way, which may be helpful to others wishing to undertake the same pilgrimages. There are also detailed descriptions of his companions and comments on hotels stayed in, meals eaten and incidental events. Though the author records his spiritual experiences at some of the sites, there is surprisingly little in the way of description of the sites themselves. This is very much an idiosyncratic personal journal.
Reviewed by JOHN NICHOLLS