"Bardo Mandala." Thangka [painting] showing the period between death and reincarnation (gouache on cloth), Tibetan School, 19th century. Image from Credo Reference.
For the student and scholar, reference can have two meaning. One, a source that you can refer to for answers, and also the source, or reference, that accompanies a book or article. A good encyclopedia article gives you the best of both. Try starting your research with Credo Reference.
The CSS Library has a deep collection of specialized encyclopedias in theology & religious studies. For a universal overview, heavy with scholarship, there is no better place to start than the 15 volume, 2nd edition of The Encyclopedia of Religion. For a lighter take, try the 6 volume Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. Or delve deep into a specific religion with the New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, or Encyclopedia Judaica, or Melton’s Encyclopedia of American Religions. Discover how religions approach love and sexuality with Encyclopedia of Love in the World’s Religions, or religion’s relation to science in the Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. Encyclopedias are a great place to explore on your way to choosing and researching a topic.
Browse here for more theology & religious studies encyclopedias.
Remember to check the bibliography at the end of an article - a basic trick to build your own bibliography for your paper. Browse the master list of print & electronic encyclopedias available to you as a student for more great sources for your other classes.
"The skull is used as the symbol of the transitory nature of life on earth. It suggests, therefore, the useless vanity of earthly things. The skull is sometimes used as an attribute of penitent saints, such as St. Mary Magdalene, St. Paul, St. Jerome, and St. Francis of Assisi. Hermits are usually shown with a skull to suggest their contemplation of death. When a cross is represented with the skull, it suggests their meditation upon eternal life after death." - Signs and Symbols in Christian Art.