The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe
by Colm Toibin
Colm Toibin writes brilliantly about successive Holy Weeks spent in Poland, Seville, Bavaria, Rome, and the Balkans; forays into post-Communist ... Show synopsis Colm Toibin writes brilliantly about successive Holy Weeks spent in Poland, Seville, Bavaria, Rome, and the Balkans; forays into post-Communist Catholic Lithuania and Estonia; and the faith in Ireland and Scotland. But, just as important, Toibin - a Catholic only by baptism, communion, and confirmation - reckons with the religious demons of his past. Here are the rituals, the pilgrimages, and the shrines; the fanatics, the charlatans, and the sincerely devout. And at the center of this brave book is Toibin's strange and painful session in group therapy, wherein, to his surprise, he experiences the urge to make the sign of the cross in memory of his father, who died when Toibin was a boy. The Sign of the Cross is a book about knowing that you can be moved intensely by someone else's belief while remaining unable to share it. Unaffected, humane, written with honesty and erudition lightly carried, it offers at once a prism of the Catholic faith in Europe today and a testimony to the enduring influence of religion in one gifted writer's life.