Brothers and Sisters
Glimpses of the Cloistered Life
ISBN 0 232 52436 X
Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 2001, £14.95
(price at publication of review)
Reviewed January 2004; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2003
This is a beautiful book. It consists of pictures of monks and nuns, mostly from enclosed communities, and the convents and monasteries in which they live. Accompanying the pictures are short quotes from texts such as the Rule of St. Benedict, the Cistercian Rule, and the Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila. The pictures are all in black and white, but then so are most of the people in the photographs, with all in full habit, choir robes or working clothes.
Frank Monaco is a professional photographer, and you can tell his skill by the subtle use of shades of light and dark which bring a great sense of stillness to the scenes depicted. The camera itself seems not to be there, testifying to the unobtrusiveness of the photographer in his work.
Although only recently published, my guess is that the photographs have been taken over a period of several years. But that does not detract from the immediacy of the scenes, or the sense of being present in these enclosed communities. What lingers most in the memory are the wonderful faces captured here, full of serenity and gentle humour.
Nicholas Alan SSF
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