St. Martin Dividing his Cloak with a Beggar
Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund with the assistance of the Fellows, 1963
Martin shares his cloak with a beggar. Appearing in the sky is Christ, who, holding the cloth, reveals the true recipient of Martin's charity. A necklace of gold bars, two of which are inscribed with the names of Jesus and Mary, is in the borders.
Suffrages are short prayers to individual saints. As protectors of medieval people, saints were their doctor in plague, their midwife at childbirth, their guardian when traveling, and their nurse during toothache. If the Virgin was the figure to whom one addressed the all-important petition for eternal salvation, it was from saints that one sought more basic or temporal kinds of help. While the Virgin became, as the Mother of God, almost a goddess herself, saints retained more of their humanity and thus their approachability.
Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern