By Lawrence S. Cunningham
A quick background of Saints follows the increase of the cult of saints in Christianity from its beginning within the age of the martyrs right down to the current day.Refers to either famous saints, reminiscent of Joan of Arc, and lesser-known figures just like the ‘holy fools’ within the Orthodox traditionRanges over topics as diversified because the heritage of canonization tactics, the Reformation critique of the cult of saints, and the position of saints in different non secular traditionsDiscusses the relevance of sainthood within the postmodern eraTwo appendices describe consumer saints and the iconography of saints in paintings.
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Extra resources for A Brief History of Saints (Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion)
The case of the patron saint of travelers, Saint Christopher, is a good case in point. From an early cultus in both the Western and Eastern churches, honoring a third-century martyr who died during the persecution of Decius, a tradition arose that he was an exceptionally tall or strong man (in some tellings of the story, he was transformed into a giant), who once served Satan before his conversion. According to The Golden Legend, he was a ferryman who took travelers across a river ford. While carrying a child who was so heavy that Christopher almost sank, it was revealed that the child was Christ who carried human sins.
When she died in 1297 she was already considered a living saint by her fellow citizens. In the Middle Ages, the phenomenon of women dwelling in urban areas as ascetics who were inspired by the burgeoning spiritualities of the Franciscans and other mendicant movements was widespread. Some, like Catherine of Siena, a Dominican tertiary in the fourteenth century, assumed prophetic stances in The Bureaucratization of Sanctity 43 chiding ecclesiastical powers to move to reform, while others, like the ﬁfteenth-century Saint Frances of Rome, gathered likeminded women together (mainly widows) to lead a life of service to the poor while being nourished by a given spirituality (in Frances’s case, the Rule of Benedict).
Using a different style of decoration, churches in the West have stained-glass windows, pictures, and statues in the apse, and ancillary altars, also depicting the range of the saints. One of the most striking churches exemplifying this notion of the entire church at worship is the ﬁfthcentury basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. On both walls of the nave, below the clerestory, are continuous mosaics of sainted martyrs, men on one side and women on the other, in procession towards the main altar.
A Brief History of Saints (Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion) by Lawrence S. Cunningham