The Sacred Life of Bread

Uncovering the Mystery of an Ordinary Loaf

The Sacred Life of Bread

Uncovering the Mystery of an Ordinary Loaf

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The pursuit of bread, from the time a single grain is planted in the soil to the moment a baked loaf is broken and consumed, satisfies longings not only physical but spiritual. Nearly all the world's religions count bread-related proverbs and prayers among their sacred scriptures. In Christian tradition, bread is often referred to as life itself, thanks to its ability to meet the most basic need of all that live: sustaining food.

The life of bread is as ordinary as it is sacred. It offers a path toward understanding the inner workings of the world, ourselves, and the relationship between the two. In these pages Meghan Murphy-Gill explores the world of bread and its rich meanings--from the exuberant joy of the hotdog roll to the inactive time as bread slowly rises. Engaging a bread practice is both spiritual and process focused, and bread invites us to community and communion in ongoing, fulfilling, and profoundly life-giving ways.

The making and breaking of bread are spiritual practices that reveal deep truths as well as pathways toward meaningful relationships with ourselves, our communities, and our environment. The book includes fourteen recipes.


"Who knew that bread could be its own Virgil, guiding Meghan Murphy-Gill--and us--to deeper places?"

from the foreword by Peter Reinhart, multiple-time winner of the James Beard Award; author of The Bread Baker's Apprentice and Crust and Crumb

"The whole world is contained in a loaf of bread--and Meghan Murphy-Gill has captured not just that, but our humanity in her lovely book."

Alissa Wilkinson, author of Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary Women

"A thoughtful reflection on the spirituality of breadmaking."

Sandor Ellix Katz, fermentation revivalist and author of The Art of Fermentation

"This book will remind any baker that the process of making bread rekindles one's spiritual connection to and consciousness of the world around them."

Ellen King, co-owner of Hewn Bakery in Evanston, Illinois, and author of Heritage Baking

"The perfect read for that quiet period while the dough is rising. Murphy-Gill manages to achieve what many do not, going beyond the autobiographical to illuminate universal truths of genuine depth. Experienced bakers and newbies alike will find something to savor on every page."

Fr. Dominic Garramone, aka "The Bread Monk," host of Breaking Bread with Father Dominic

"I adored and devoured every page of The Sacred Life of Bread. Murphy-Gill's insights connecting the spiritual life to the transformative miracle that is bread-baking stoked my hunger for the simple and life-giving nourishments of both kitchen and eucharistic tables."

Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis and former food magazine writer and blogger


"Murphy-Gill gracefully weaves explorations of spiritual and physical sustenance, delivering some gems ('recipes are best when approached like written prayers... they offer insight into practice but never promise mastery') and concluding chapters with recipes for the likes of Finnish rye bread and pizza dough with black emmer. The result is an offering Christians will enjoy taking a bite out of."

Publishers Weekly

"A wonderful conflation of all that is theological and spiritual with the art of bread making."

Library Journal, starred review

"Author, baker, and Episcopal priest Murphy-Gill not only celebrates the flavors and layers of bread stories, but she also ties each part of the process of bread-making into a spiritual narrative. . . . These revelations--at first startling--make sense in the whole of life, similar to the mystery of how bread turns a mishmash of odds and ends into a meal. A dozen or so recipes, most adapted from others, punctuate her offering."


Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506482231
  • eBook ISBN 9781506482248
  • Dimensions 5.25 x 7.25
  • Pages 239
  • Publication Date June 13, 2023