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 recognized saints, comparable to Joan of Arc, and lesser-known figures just like the ‘holy fools’ within the Orthodox traditionRanges over matters as various because the heritage of canonization methods, 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 shopper 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)
Many went on pilgrimage for the same reason that people prayed to the saints in their own locales: to seek a favor or to pray for a cure from an illness. Chaucer mentions at the beginning of The Canterbury Tales that his pilgrims traveled both to thank and to petition for cures at the shrine of the martyr. Still others traveled as a penitential way of life or to visit a shrine in order to discern how they were to live in the future. The popularity of pilgrimage has not diminished over the centuries.
All of these works held up the ascetics as models of Christian witness. Perhaps the most extravagant of the early ascetic saints were those who lived on platforms on pillars known as the stylites. Open to the weather, they not only devoted their lives to prayer but were famous for their spiritual advice. Attended by disciples who would send up food and other basic necessities, these ascetics lived, as it were, suspended between heaven and earth. They ﬂourished in the Middle East and Greece well into the early Middle Ages.
Both Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine would later argue for the legitimacy of such veneration. Augustine, in his Confessions, famously describes his own mother, Monica, as a regular visitor to the shrine of the third-century martyr Saint Cyprian in Carthage. When Ambrose, bishop of Milan, discouraged such practices due to excesses, Augustine noted that Monica gave up the custom and now saw “the wisdom of bringing to the martyrs’ shrines not a basket full of the fruits of the earth but a heart full of more puriﬁed offerings, her prayers” (Confessions VI: 2).
A Brief History of Saints (Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion) by Lawrence S. Cunningham