(Ignatius, 2010)

For Christians the question, “What does God look like?” ultimately becomes, “What does Jesus look like?”

In The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus, journalist Paul Badde believes he has found the answer. Badde’s book centers on his discovery of the Veil of Manoppello, a strange, delicate cloth that, if Badde is right, is one of the most important relics in all of Christendom.

The haunting veil displays an eerie, compelling image that Badde claims is the actual Face of God. And he has plenty of evidence to back this up—historical, scientific, and religious research. One of the strongest pieces of evidence, though, is that when the veil is laid over the Shroud of Turin, the two faces form a perfect match.

The Face of God includes not just scientific proofs, though. It’s an adventure memoir chronicling Badde’s journey from intrigued skeptic to convinced promoter.

Overall, I don’t know if I’m totally convinced that the veil is the real deal. I also take issue with Badde’s suggestion that at some point, the Vatican “lost” the true veil and now promotes a fake alternative in St. Peter’s Basilica.

At the same time, The Face of God does offer some challenging evidence for the veil’s veracity. Dr. Peter Kreeft concludes, “If I were an atheist, I would not be able to sleep until I had exposed everything in this book as a scam.” Ultimately, believers and skeptics alike should find this book interesting even if they doubt its claims.

—Brandon Vogt


(Ignatius, 1013)

Our Holy Father, the Pope: The Papacy from Saint Peter to the Present, written by Don Caffery and illustrated by Emmanuel Beaudesson, is a simple presentation made inviting by water-colors.

Summarizing key moments of the New Testament, the first portion of the book follows the establishment of the Chair of Saint Peter. Then comes a wonderfully emphatic declaration of apostolic succession, followed by brief descriptions of the Vatican and those who work there, ending with a basic explanation of how a pope is elected.

The last page of this book is perhaps the most important: a heartfelt, straightforward declaration of papal authority. Small children to whom this book is read—and the older Catholics who read it to them—are warmly entreated to love and obey the Holy Father.

This is why the book is beautiful: it is faithful. In every page of writing, in the lovingly painted illustrations, it conveys the joy of having a pope, the wondrous gift of having a father. Through the story of St. Peter it very gently shows that while the pope is human, and can fall like any other man, we can follow him with trusting confidence because he is Christ’s vicar.

At a press conference in 1968, H. Lyman Stebbins, CUF’s founder, asserted “that Catholics are Roman Catholics; that doctrinal fidelity to the teachings of the Holy Father is indispensable to the faith.” The message of this book is one essential to life in Christ.

—Micaela Stoutz

(Encounter Books, 2012)

What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George is gaining a well-deserved reputation as the best overview of the case for marriage. This slim volume is the expanded version of an essay, originally published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, which quickly attracted a great deal of scholarly debate and attention.

“Our essential claims may be put succinctly,” the authors explain. “There is a distinct form of personal union and corresponding way of life, historically called marriage, whose basic features do not depend on the preferences of individuals or cultures. Marriage is, of its essence, a comprehensive union: a union of will (by consent) and body (by sexual union); inherently ordered to procreation and thus the broad sharing of family life; and calling for permanent and exclusive commitment, whatever the spouses’ preferences.”

By aiming at the heart of the matter— the nature of marriage—and bracketing the same-sex union debate as a secondary question, the book resets the terms of the modern marriage discussion entirely. If marriage is a reality which preexists and underpins any given societal arrangement, then we must have laws which conform to that reality. We cannot change that reality merely by changing our laws.

Thorough, thoughtful, and thoughtprovoking, this is an indispensable resource for the laity seeking to defend marriage in their communities and witness to the world.

—Chris Sparks