By Lawrence S. Cunningham
A short heritage of Saints follows the increase of the cult of saints in Christianity from its beginning within the age of the martyrs all the way down to the current day.Refers to either famous saints, comparable to Joan of Arc, and lesser-known figures just like the ‘holy fools’ within the Orthodox traditionRanges over topics as varied because the heritage of canonization methods, the Reformation critique of the cult of saints, and the function of saints in different spiritual 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 info for A Brief History of Saints (Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion)
1230–1298). That work drew upon many earlier stories, folktales, exempla, and pious elaborations dating into the early Middle Ages. Most likely meant to be of use to preachers, it was an enormously popular work with over a thousand manuscript copies surviving from the Middle Ages with many editions translated from its original Latin. It was one of the ﬁrst books printed by the ﬁfteenth-century English publisher William Caxton, who produced an English version in 1483. No other book was reprinted more often between 1470 and 1530, and over one hundred different editions in a wide sweep of languages have been noted.
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.
Antony’s popularity as a saint was partially due to the preaching of another Franciscan saint, the wildly successful “revival” preacher, Saint Bernardino of Siena (died 1444) who held up Antony as a model. Saint Bonaventure, who died in the same year as Thomas Aquinas (1274), is often called the “second founder” of the Franciscan order. A learned theologian, he wrote the major life of Francis which became the canonical account of the saint’s life for centuries. The story is told of him that when the legates came to tell him that the pope had made him a cardinal, they found him washing dishes after supper – a task he insisted on ﬁnishing before he received the news.