?Local author's book on Mary of Nazareth released earlier this week

By Melissa A. Wabnitz

Transcript Staff Writer

It's her fifth book, and the first written specifically for a secular audience, but Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda says "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Mary of Nazareth" is perhaps, nearer and dearer to her heart than any other.

"The personhood of Mary, no one can deny she has been the central figure of humanity," Scaperlanda said. "No one can deny the importance of her in history... Christians have honored her for centuries. Artists have tried to portray her spirit, capture her character and create symphonies in her tribute."

A mother of three, "Momma Scap" said she intrinsically related to Mary of Nazareth.

"From the beginning, the oldest title she had, 'Theotokos,' to call her the Mother of God was to explain who Jesus was, explaining the truth of their faith -- that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine," she said.

Those titles, discussed at length in her latest book which was released earlier this week, ranged from the self-dubbed "Handmaid of the Lord" to "Mother of the Church" and even the "First Christian," Scaperlanda said.

So too are discussed the various homages Mary has had over the years, ranging in various types of prayers devoted to artistic renderings.

"Mary is not only completely accessible to every one of us, regardless of religious, ethnic, racial, economic background or nationality," she said, "but so many of us can relate to her in so many ways ... She was a human woman and she wore so many hats and roles, doing things that women would have done, as first and foremost, she was a mother."

A historical view of Mary's life, including the day-to-day chores she would have completed, is also discussed in Scaperlanda's book, published by Alpha Books.

"We describe the area of where she would have grown up, and how she had to leave Egypt with Joseph," she said. "As a Cuban, that's how we had to leave, with absolutely nothing, in the middle of the night. It's another way I can relate to Mary."

Mary, Scaperlanda said, "was a regular person like us who had an exceptional story of faith."

The book retails for $18.95 and is available nationwide online as well as at a number of local and chain bookstores.

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