The Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser
Space, Time, Mystery, and Meaning in an Ordinary Church

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Margaret Visser has visited many more churches than most people, but like the rest of us, she began to tire of the slew of facts and lack of meaningful information available from guidebooks. The desire to find answers to her own questions -- as a traveler, a believer, and an insatiable anthropologist of the everyday -- led her to undertake this unique and revelatory book.

More than any other kind of edifice, a church is intentionally meaningful in all its aspects, and Visser decided to find out what it was trying to express, in its nuances as well as in its grand gestures. She deliberately chose a relatively simple church just outside the walls of Rome, Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, but she casts a wide net -- taking in history, theology, anthropology, and folklore, among other disciplines -- to illuminate its physical and spiritual architecture. As she guides us through the building, from apse to nave, catacombs to campanile, Visser explores the symbolism of lambs, the Christian fascination with virgins, the meanings of martyrdom, and the history of relics. At the same time, she moves back through the centuries to reveal Christianity in its earliest forms and purposes. The book ends at the church's beginning, with the grave of Agnes, a twelve-year-old girl who was murdered seventeen hundred years ago and whose remains lie buried beneath the altar. By then we have learned how to read any church building, how to interpret what it "does" and "says," whether we are of any faith or none.


About Margaret Visser

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Margaret Visser is the author of three previous books: "Much Depends on Dinner", "Rituals of Dinner", & "The Way We Are". She lives in Barcelona.
Published January 1, 2001 by HarperFlamingo Canada. 322 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Thus Visser progresses through the church, describing what is visible on the ceiling, walls, and floor, decoding the symbolism of the art and architecture, and providing brief essays on such topics as bells and bell towers, baptism and other rituals, various popes and saints, controversial belief...

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The Guardian

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The Geometry of Love Margaret Visser Viking £18.99, pp323 Buy it at a discount at BOL Chopping onions and wondering why they stung her eyes, Margaret Visser inadvertently began to uncover the 'anthropology of everyday life'.

Mar 04 2001 | Read Full Review of The Geometry of Love: Space, ...

Publishers Weekly

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Tired of endless tours through world churches in which guides provide lists of facts about dates and architects, Visser aims to bring one small church alive by exploring the stories, meanings and rituals built into each piece of the building.

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Entertainment Weekly

Its architectural design gives shape to the book's structure, so readers — like visitors — begin at the windowed entranceway and end at the subterranean fourth-century crypt of the church's namesake, 12-year-old martyr Agnes.

May 04 2001 | Read Full Review of The Geometry of Love: Space, ...

Here the Christian author and anthropologist takes on a far bigger challenge — interpreting the history, politics, theology, anthropology, art, history, technology, iconography, and folklore of Sant' Agnese's church in Rome, a place housing the remains of St. Agnes, a twelve-year-old virgin marty...

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