Opening with the traditional version of the beloved poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" renowned children's book author Marianna Mayer seques into the life of St. Nicholas, the saint whose legendary generosity was the genesis for Santa Claus.
St. Nicholas, who lived during the fourth century in the area that is now known as Turkey, was the child of practicing Christians who died when Nicholas was but a boy. Fortunately, they were people of wealth so the child was left with a handsome inheritance which it is said he used to help others.
According to stories that have grown up around the saint when he was still a boy he overheard villagers in the marketplace discussing a family that was destitute, so impoverished that three daughters were to be sold into slavery.
That night young Nicholas stealthily approached the family's home and threw a bag of gold in through an open window. So astounded was the man to find this amazing gift that he sat by the window each night hoping to see his benefactor.
When he did catch Nicholas leaving another bag of gold the man wanted to know how he could repay him. The boy only asked that the man never tell who had helped him.
Later, as an adult, Nicholas was elected Bishop of Myra and continued his selfless generosity which won him legions of followers.
Illustrating her story with reproductions of paintings by some of the world's greatest artists, including Tintoretto and Fra Angelico, Ms. Mayer has created a keepsake Christmas book that families will enjoy season after season.
- Gail Cooke