cover image Angels and Saints

Angels and Saints

Eliot Weinberger with Mary Wellesley. Christine Burgin/New Directions, $26.95 (160) ISBN 978-0-8112-2986-9

Essayist Weinberger (The Ghosts of Birds) delivers a charming meditation on the nature of angels and saints, illustrated with gorgeous reproductions of the works of ninth century German Benedictine monk Hrabanus Maurus. Weinberger contributes the bulk of the text, comprising his interpretation of angels, including consideration of how many there are, and their appearance, essential nature (“God and the angels speak without sound... and are heard by “inward” or “mental” ears”), physical abilities, and functions. Weinberger concludes his consideration with a beautifully laid out “angelology,” naming various angels and their powers, such as Mach, who can make one invisible. The rest of the volume is devoted to the stories of saints—some of which are quite lengthy, such as the biography of Saint Therese. Others are as brief as a sentence. (For John the Almsgiver, “He never spoke an idle word.”) The volume is concluded with an essay by Wellesley, a British Library researcher, on the nature and history of Maurus’s illustrations. The reproductions, scattered throughout the book, are full-color and invite the reader to contemplation. Academic and lay readers interested in Christian thought will enjoy Weinberger’s eclectic homage to angels and saints. (Sept.)