Celtic Crossing

Discussion Guide Bonus Questions

  1. The title "Celtic Crossing" can be understood several ways. Discuss some of these and share what it means to you.

  2. The name Michael means "who is like God?" In addition to Aideen's grandson, explore the many variations of that name used in the novel.

  3. When Conlaeth visits Fionán in Reask, wolves move restlessly in the distance. The oldest resident monk is Weylyn, whose name means "wolf." What does this imagery foreshadow? Knowing that this is a land of many sheep, is there a particular biblical reference that comes to mind? What relevance might it have for the contemporary characters? (Chapter 7)

  4. Fionán and Finnian share both a name and a connection to Skellig Michael. Describe how they function as bookends to the story of the crag. (Chapters 7, 16)

  5. Áed's name means "fire." What role does fire play at a key moment in his young life? In what ways does the course of his life change? (Chapter 9)

  6. Kyle tells Kevin that Bréanainn is the Irish name for Brendan the Navigator. While Bréanainn is remembered for navigating boats, explore his role as guide to both Cóemgen and Áed. Who in your life shines light on the path? (Chapters 9, 16)

  7. After their father's funeral, Marco tells his sister, "We're orphans now, Talie." The name Natalie connotes birth and, in Italian, Christmas. Explore the many allusions to spiritual rebirth in this Medici chapel scene. (Chapter 11)

  8. A pietá depicts the dutiful mother of Jesus holding her crucified son, and there are two versions in the novel. Describe both and compare their roles in the story. Which character is most impacted by each? (Chapters 3, 18)

  9. Why might the author have chosen to describe two of Michelangelo's frescoes—the crucifixion of Peter and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden—as narrative prose in present tense? (Chapters 18, 19)

  10. How is art used in the novel to reveal transcendent truths? Might art be considered a character itself in this novel?

  11. Why does Kyle fear the Last Judgment? Do you think his faith is strong or faltering? What role does humility play in his concept of merciful love? (Chapter 20)

  12. Did Aideen ultimately find the curing cross for Michael? For herself? (Chapter 27)

  13. Hedgerow fuchsia grow wild throughout Ireland and their blossoms are a symbol of confiding love. As a skilled gardener, do you think Aideen might have intentionally selected a fuchsia-adorned card for her letter to Kyle? What might it signify for the characters? (Chapter 30)

  14. Shanon suspects that her son is infatuated with Cristina. Do you think this might be Kyle's first romance? What does his irritability over Dámaso and Sergio reveal? When in the novel does his love seem to suddenly mature? (Chapter 31)

  15. When Marco investigates Kyle's theory of where the relic is hidden, he finds an empty chamber. Discuss Kyle's disappointment and compare it to times in your life (or that of others) when you've looked but not found. Consider how this discovery is an apt metaphor for the Empty Tomb. (Chapter 33)

  16. In the papal chambers, Kevin notices a window with glass jewels of amethyst, jasper, and carnelian—evocative of the New Jerusalem vision described in Revelation. Why might this be a fitting image at the close of the book? (Chapter 33)