Saints and sacred art have captured imaginations for centuries. You have only to remember the recent deaths of two beloved individuals, Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II. Millions mourned their deaths while celebrating their saint-like lives. Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel rendering of God and Adam, each reaching forward, their fingertips nearly touching, is a famous centuries-old image that evokes worldwide instant recognition and response.
Saints: A Year in Faith and Art by art historian Rosa Giorgi melds the best of both faith and art into an extraordinarily useful and utterly gorgeous book. Giorgi had one simple goal: “One saint, anniversary, or remembrance for each day of the year, including the added day of leap year.”
Giorgi draws as much as possible on the Roman Catholic calendar and liturgical tradition, but she is not afraid to highlight saints from the popular tradition, as well as some who are still in the canonization process. She strove for universality:
… (the calendar) is composed of examples of sanctity expressed by men, women, and children, by adults and by the elderly, all of them treated equally in the pages of this book. Let it be said immediately that this universality is not a merit of this volume but is rather an outstanding characteristic of the call to sainthood, which is universal in the sense that it can come to anyone, to people of every age and gender and also every walk of life. The clergy and the lay, the enslaved or the free, the noble or the derelict.
While the accompanying daily text provides a short bio, an outline really, of the saint’s life and “an indication of what led him or her to a life of sanctity,” the true purpose is for the combined art and life of a saint to daily feed your soul. Most days have one saint, although occasionally you will run across a second and a third depending on the painting chosen. This literary gem is perfect for short daily readings as well as deeper meditations. Another window into using the book's contents is through the added index of names.