Picks and Pans Review: Saints
St. Martin makes five appearances in Saints, his likeness rendered in two paintings, a woodcut, an illuminated manuscript and a stained-glass window. Each shows the incident that made his cult famous: Martin cutting his Roman officer's cloak in half so that he can clothe a beggar.
Saints is the perfect complement to One Hundred Saints. Where the second tends toward piety, the first is businesslike. Saints are listed under areas of patronage—despairing prostitutes, repentant prostitutes, lawyers are just a few—and each entry is followed by a fact box telling us for instance that St. Hubert, patron saint of dogs, was an 8th-century bishop of Maastricht, that he is invoked against rabies, that his emblem is a stag and that his feast day is May 30.
The book is copiously illustrated, worth the price if only for introducing us to the Roman virgin and martyr Bibiana, who helps out with hangovers. (Simon & Schuster, $22)