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{{other uses}}{{Use dmy dates|date=October 2015}}File:Saint Joseph's Catholic Church (Central City, Kentucky) - stained glass, St. Theresa of Ávila detail.jpg|thumb|St. Teresa of Ávila. In traditional Christian iconography, saints are often depicted with halos as a symbol of holiness.]]A saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. However, the use of the term "saint" depends on the context and denomination. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Lutheran doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honor or emulation;BOOK, Woodward, Kenneth L.
date=1996, Simon & Sachierpage=16, Among other Christian churches, the Russian Orthodox retains a vigorous devotion to the saints, especially the early church fathers and martyrs. On rare occasions, new names (usually monks or bishops) are grafted onto their traditional list of saints.... Something like the cult continues among Anglicans and Lutherans, who maintain feast days and calendars of saints. But while the Anglicans have no mechanism for recognizing new saints, the Lutherans from time to time do informally recommend new names (Da Hammarskjold, Dietrick Bonhoeffer, and Pope John XXIII are recent additions) for thanksgiving and remembrance by the faithful. The saint, then, is a familiar figure in all world religions. But only the Roman Catholic Church has a formal, continuous, and highly rationalized process for 'making' saints., official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently veneration, is given to some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church.WEB,weblinklast=Bebisdate=n.d., Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 7 May 2016, While the English word saint originated in Christianity, historians of religion now use the appellation "in a more general way to refer to the state of special holiness that many religions attribute to certain people", with the Jewish tzadik, the Islamic walī, the Hindu rishi or Sikh guru, and the Buddhist arhat or bodhisattva also being referred to as saints.BOOK, Thomson Gale Encyclopedia of Religioneditor-last=Jonesdate=2005chapter=Sainthood, 8033, Historians of religion have liberated the category of sainthood from its narrower Christian associations and have employed the term in a more general way to refer to the state of special holiness that many religions attribute to certain people. The Jewish hasid or tsaddiq, the Muslim waliy, the Zoroastrian fravashi, the Hindu rsi or guru, the Buddhist arahant or bodhisattva, the Daoist shengren, the Shinto kami and others have all been referred to as saints., Depending on the religion, saints are recognized either by official ecclesiastical declaration, as in the Catholic faith, or by popular acclamation (see Folk saint).ISSACHAR >LAST=BEN-AMI, Saint Veneration Among the Jews in Morocco,weblink 7 September 2012publisher=Wayne State University Presspage=13, Veneration of saints is a universal phenomenon. All monotheistic and polytheistic creeds contain something of its religious dimension ...,

General characteristics

The English word "saint{{-"}} comes from the Latin "sanctus". The word translated in Greek is "ἅγιος" (hagios), which means "holy".Canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska, 1970, Kodiak, Alaska, Orthodox Church in America The word ἅγιος appears 229 times in the Greek New Testament, and its English translation 60 times in the corresponding text of the King James Version of the Bible.WEB,weblink What does the word 'saint' mean in the Bible?, 19 December 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 29 July 2013, {{unreliable source?|date=October 2013}}The word sanctus was originally a technical one in ancient Roman religion, but due to its "globalized" use in Christianity the modern word "saint" in English and its equivalent in Romance languages is now also used as a translation of comparable terms for persons "worthy of veneration for their holiness or sanctity" in other religions.Many religions also use similar concepts (but different terminology) to venerate persons worthy of some honor. Author John A. Coleman S.J. of the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California wrote that saints across various cultures and religions have the following family resemblances:Coleman, John A. "Conclusion: After sainthood", in Hawley, John Stratton, ed. Saints and Virtues Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. pp. 214–217. {{ISBN|0-520-06163-2}}
  1. exemplary model
  2. extraordinary teacher
  3. wonder worker or source of benevolent power
  4. intercessor
  5. a life often refusing material attachments or comforts
  6. possession of a special and revelatory relation to the holy.
The anthropologist Lawrence Babb in an article about Sathya Sai Baba asks the question "Who is a saint?", and responds by saying that in the symbolic infrastructure of some religions, there is the image of a certain extraordinary spiritual king's "miraculous powers", to whom frequently a certain moral presence is attributed. These saintly figures, he asserts, are "the focal points of spiritual force-fields". They exert "powerful attractive influence on followers but touch the inner lives of others in transforming ways as well".Babb, Lawrence A. "Sathya Sai Baba's Saintly Play", in Hawley, John Stratton, ed. Saints and Virtues. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. pp. 168–170. {{ISBN|0-520-06163-2}}.


Catholic Church

{{anchor|Catholic Church|Catholic|Catholicism}}{{Further|List of Catholic saints|General Roman Calendar}}File:Cimabue Saint Francis Fragment.jpg|thumb|left|A portrait depicting Saint Francis of Assisi by the Italian artist CimabueCimabueAccording to the Catholic Church, a "saint" is anyone in Heaven, whether recognized on Earth or not, who form the "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1).In many Protestant churches, the word "saint" is used more generally to refer to anyone who is a Christian. This is similar in usage to Paul's numerous references in the New Testament of the Bible."Beloved of God, Called to Be Saints", New Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. p. 150. In this sense, anyone who is within the Body of Christ (i.e., a professing Christian) is a 'saint' because of their relationship with Christ Jesus. Many Protestants consider intercessory prayers to the saints to be idolatry as an application of divine worship that should be given only to God himself is being given to other believers, dead or alive.WEB,weblink The Sin of Idolatry and the Catholic Concept of Iconic Participation,, 25 December 2012, Many Protestant sects also consider the practice to be similar to necromancy as the dead are believed to be awaiting resurrection, unable to do anything for the living saint. {{Citation needed|date=October 2016}}Within some Protestant traditions, "saint" is also used to refer to any born-again Christian. Many emphasize the traditional New Testament meaning of the word, preferring to write "saint" to refer to any believer, in continuity with the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The beliefs within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) with regard to saints are similar but not quite the same as the Protestant tradition. In the New Testament, saints are all those who have entered into the Christian covenant of baptism. The qualification "latter-day" refers to the doctrine that members are living in the "latter days", before the Second Coming of Christ, and is used to distinguish the members of the church, which considers itself the restoration of the ancient Christian church.WEB, Smith, Joseph Jr, Joseph Smith Jr, Pearl of Great Price,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 2000-08-17, Members are therefore often referred to as "Latter-day Saints" or "LDS", and among themselves as "saints".M. Russell Ballard, "Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits", Ensign, Nov 2007, 25–27

Other religions

The use of the term "saint" is not exclusive to Christianity. In many religions, there are people who have been recognized within their tradition as having fulfilled the highest aspirations of religious teaching. In English, the term saint is often used to translate this idea from many world religions. The Jewish hasid or tsaddiq, the Islamic qidees, the Zoroastrian fravashi, the Hindu rsi or guru, the Buddhist arahant or bodhisattva, the Daoist shengren, the Shinto kami and others have all been referred to as saints."BOOK, Thomson Gale Encyclopedia of Religion, Lindsay Jones, Macmillan Reference USA, 2005, Second, Sainthood, 8033, TG,

African diaspora

{{See also|Afro-American religion}}Cuban Santería, Haitian Vodou, Trinidad Orisha-Shango, Brazilian Umbanda, Candomblé, and other similar syncretist religions adopted the Catholic saints, or at least the images of the saints, and applied their own spirits/deities to them. They are worshiped in churches (where they appear as saints) and in religious festivals, where they appear as the deities. The name santería was originally a pejorative term for those whose worship of saints deviated from Catholic norms.


{{See also|Buddha|Bodhisattva}}Buddhists in both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions hold the Arhats in special esteem, as well as Bodhisattvas, other Buddhas, or eminent members of the Sangha. Tibetan Buddhists hold the tulkus (reincarnates of deceased eminent practitioners) as living saints on earth.


Hindu saints are those recognized by Hindus as showing a great degree of holiness and sanctity. Hinduism has a long tradition of stories and poetry about saints. There is no formal canonization process in Hinduism, but over time, many men and women have reached the status of saints among their followers and among Hindus in general (unlike in Christianity, Hinduism does not canonize people as saints after death, but they can be accepted as saints during their lifetime).BOOK, The Essentials of Hinduism, Bhaskarananda, Swami, The Vedanta Society of Western Washington, 2002, 978-1-884852-04-6, Seattle, 12, Hindu saints have often renounced the world, and are variously called gurus, sadhus, rishis, devarishis, rajarshis, saptarishis, brahmarshis, swamis, pundits, purohits, pujaris, acharyas, pravaras, yogis, yoginis, and other names.BOOK, Robin Rinehart, Contemporary Hinduism: Ritual, Culture, and Practice,weblink 3 June 2013, 1 January 2004, ABC-CLIO, 978-1-57607-905-8, 87–90, Some Hindu saints are given god-like status, being seen as incarnations of Vishnu, Shiva, Devi and other aspects of the Divine—this can happen during their lifetimes, or sometimes many years after their deaths. This explains another common name for Hindu saints: godmen.BOOK, Kenneth L. Woodward, The Book of Miracles: The Meaning of the Miracle Stories in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam,weblink 3 June 2013, 10 July 2001, Simon & Schuster, 978-0-7432-0029-5, 267,


Islam has had a rich history of veneration of saints (often called wali, which literally means "Friend [of God]"),See John Renard, Friends of God: Islamic Images of Piety, Commitment, and Servanthood (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008); Idem., Tales of God Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009) which has declined in some parts of the Islamic world in the twentieth century due to the influence of the various streams of Salafism. In Sunni Islam, the veneration of saints became a very common form of devotion early on, and saints came to be defined in the eighth-century as a group of "special people chosen by God and endowed with exceptional gifts, such as the ability to work miracles."Radtke, B., "Saint", in: Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān, General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Georgetown University, Washington DC. The classical Sunni scholars came to recognize and honor these individuals as venerable people who were both "loved by God and developed a close relationship of love to Him." "Belief in the miracles of saints (karāmāt al-awliyāʾ) ... [became a] requirement in Sunni Islam [during the classical period],"Jonathan A.C. Brown, "Faithful Dissenters: Sunni Skepticism about the Miracles of Saints," Journal of Sufi Studies 1 (2012), p. 123 with even medieval critics of the ubiquitous practice of grave visitation like Ibn Taymiyyah emphatically declaring: "The miracles of saints are absolutely true and correct, and acknowledged by all Muslim scholars. The Quran has pointed to it in different places, and the sayings of the Prophet have mentioned it, and whoever denies the miraculous power of saints are innovators or following innovators."Ibn Taymiyyah, Mukhtasar al-Fatawa al-Masriyya (al-Madani Publishing House, 1980), p. 603 The vast majority of saints venerated in the classical Sunni world were the Sufis, who were all Sunni mystics who belonged to one of the four orthodox legal schools of Sunni law.John Renard, Friends of God: Islamic Images of Piety, Commitment, and Servanthood (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008)Veneration of saints eventually became one of the most widespread Sunni practices for more than a millennium, before it was opposed in the twentieth century by the Salafi movement, whose various streams regard it as "being both un-Islamic and backwards ... rather than the integral part of Islam which they were for over a millennium."Juan Eduardo Campo, Encyclopedia of Islam (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009), p. 600 In a manner similar to the Protestant Reformation,See Jonathan A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad (London: Oneworld Publications, 2015), p. 254 the specific traditional practices which Salafism has tried to curtail in both Sunni and Shia contexts include those of the veneration of saints, visiting their graves, seeking their intercession, and honoring their relics. As Christopher Taylor has remarked: "[Throughout Islamic history] a vital dimension of Islamic piety was the veneration of Muslim saints…. [due, however to] certain strains of thought within the Islamic tradition itself, particularly pronounced in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries ... [some modern day] Muslims have either resisted acknowledging the existence of Muslim saints altogether or have viewed their presence and veneration as unacceptable deviations."Christopher Taylor, In the Vicinity of the Righteous (Leiden: Brill, 1999), pp. 5–6


The term Tzadik ("righteous"), and its associated meanings, developed in rabbinic thought from its Talmudic contrast with Hasid ("pious"), to its exploration in ethical literature, and its esoteric spiritualisation in Kabbalah. In Hasidic Judaism, the institution of the Tzadik assumed central importance, combining former elite mysticism with social movement for the first time.


{{See also|Sant (religion)}}The concept of sant or bhagat is found in North Indian religious thought including Sikhism, most notably in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Figures such as Kabir, Ravidas, Namdev, and others are known as "Sants" or "Bhagats". The term Sant is applied in the Sikh and related communities to beings that have attained enlightenment through God realization and spiritual union with God via repeatedly reciting the name of God (Naam Japo). Countless names of God exist, in Sikhism, Naam (spiritual internalization of God's name) is commonly attained through the name of Waheguru, which translates to "Wondrous Guru".Sikhs are encouraged to follow the congregation of a Sant (Sadh Sangat) or "The Company of the Holy". Sants grace the Sadh Sangat with knowledge of the Divine God, and how to take greater steps towards obtaining spiritual enlightenment through Naam. Sants are to be distinguished from "Guru" (such as Guru Nanak) who have compiled the path to God enlightenment in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Gurus are the physical incarnation of God upon Earth. Sikhism states however, that any beings that have become one with God are considered synonymous with God. As such, the fully realized Sant, Guru, and God are considered one.BOOK, Sri Guru Granth Sahib: English Translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Hand Made Books (Mandeep Singh), Khalsa, Sant Singh, 2007, Arizona, 12–263,

See also

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  • Beyer, Jürgen, et al., eds. Confessional sanctity (c. 1550 – c. 1800). Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2003.
  • Bruhn, Siglind. Saints in the Limelight: Representations of the Religious Quest on the Post-1945 Operatic Stage. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 2003. {{ISBN|978-1-57647-096-1}}.
  • Cunningham, Lawrence S. The Meaning of Saints. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980.
  • Hawley, John Stratton, ed. Saints and Virtues. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. {{ISBN|0-520-06163-2}}.
  • Hein, David. "Saints: Holy, Not Tame". Sewanee Theological Review 49 (2006): 204–217.
  • Jean-Luc Deuffic (ed.), Reliques et sainteté dans l'espace médiéval weblink
  • O'Malley, Vincent J. Ordinary Suffering of Extraordinary Saints, 1999. {{ISBN|0-87973-893-6}}.
  • Perham, Michael. The Communion of Saints. London: Alcuin Club/SPCK, 1980.
  • Woodward, Kenneth L. Making Saints. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

Further reading

  • BOOK, Trigilio, John, Saints for Dummies, 2010, 978-0-470-53358-1, 363, Kenneth, Brighenti,
  • BOOK, Hebert, Alber, Saints Who Raised the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles, TAN Books, Illinois, 978-0-89555-798-8, 2004-10-15,
  • Gallick, Sarah: 50 Saints Everyone Should Know

External links

{{Commons category|Saints}}{{Wiktionary}} {{Saints|state=expanded}}{{Authority control}}

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