SAINTS

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SAINTS (from the Latin sanctus, holy), in its widest sense, is used by Catholics and Protestants to signify the pious, who in this world strictly obey the commands of God, or enjoy, in the eternal world, that bliss which is the reward of such a life on earth. In a narrower and more usual sense, the word saint signifies certain individuals, whose lives were deemed so eminently pious, that the Greek and Roman Catholic churches have authorized the rendering of public worship to them : these two churches, however, by no means acknowledge, in all cases, the same saints. The doctrine of saints, and the ideas and usages which grew out of it; their worship and invocation; the power which they are considered to possess of interceding for men wTith God, and of working miracles; their peculiar patronage of particular individuals, &c,form one of the main points of difference between the Protestants and the adherents of the abovementioned churches. The Bictionnaire de Tk6ologie (Toulouse, 1817), a work exhibiting the Catholic faith, and defending it against Protestantism, speaks in the following manner of saints, in the narrower sense of the word : " The name of saint is given to a person who is not only much attached to the worship of the true God, but who is exempt from every considerable vice, and who practises the Christian virtues in an exalted degree ; and as the bliss of heaven is the certain reward of such a life, we often understand by saints those who enjoy eternal felicity. When the church is convinced that an individual has led such a holy and pure life, when God has deigned to attest it by miracles, it places him among the number of the saints by a decree of canonization, and authorizes the faithful to render him public worship. (See Canonization.) The church, however, does not intend to intimate thereby that such an individual has been exempt from every weakness of humanity, and that he has never sinned : human frailty does not admit of this perfection." The article from which this definition is taken treats the worship and invocation of saints, and their intercession, as something essential to the Catholic faith ; while there are other Catholic writers who explicitly say, that the church has made the worship of saints, not a matter of doctrine, but simply of discipline, as the Catholic writer of the article Heilige, in the German ConversationsLexicon. Without further statement of the views of Catholic writers, among whom, as may be imagined, a great many shades of opinion prevail on this subject, from the enormous absurdityby no means unfrequently maintainedthat saints are persons who have led a life so much more virtuous than was necessary to obtain happiness in another state, that this surplus of virtue is made operative by their intercession for the salvation of others, down to tho view of the German writer just mentioned, we refer the reader to the decree of the council of Trent, as the acknowledged orthodox basis of the veneration of saints, images, relics, &c. It is explicitly stated there, that Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer and Savior; but that it is " good and useful suppliantly to invoke saints, and to resort to their prayers and assist ance;" that they pray for men; that their bodies are to be venerated by the faithful; and that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of other saints, are to be also venerated; " not that it is believed that any divinity or power resides in them, on account of which they are to be worshipped, or that any benefit is to be sought from them, or any confidence placed in images, as was done formerly by the Gentiles, who fixed their hope in idols ; but that we honor the subjects represented, when we kiss their images, or uncover our heads before them," &c. This is accompanied with the usual anathema against all who teach or profess contrary doctrines. But so much depends upon the true understanding of the decrees on these points, and so easy is it to put various interpretations on human language, that we shall give that part of the decree of the twentyfifth session of the council of Trent, which relates to the subject of this article, in the original.* The* u Maud at sancta S}rnodus omnibus Episcopis, et ceteris docendi munus curamque sustinentibus; ut juxta Catholics et Apostolica? Ecclesia? usum a primsevis Christians religionis temporibus receptum. sanctorumque Patrum consensionem, et sacrorum Conciliorum decreta, in primis de Sanctorum intereessione, invoeaiione, Reliquiarum honore, et Iegitimo imaginum usu; fideles diligenter instruarit., docentes eos, Sanetos, una. cum Christo regnantes, orationes suas pro hominibus Deo offerre ; bonum atque utile esse suppliciter ees invooare ; et ob beneficia impetranda a Deo per Filium ejus Jesum Christum Bominum nostrum, qui solus noster Redemptor et Salvator est, ad eorum orationes, opem, auxiliumque confugere : illos vero, qui negant Sanetos, seterna felicitate in eoelo fruentes, invooandos esse ; aut qui asserunt, vel illos pro hominibus non orare; vel eorum, ut pro nobis etiam singulis orent, invocationem esse idololatriam, vel pugnare cum verbo Dei, adversarique honori unius mediatoris Dei et hominum "?esu Christi j vel stultum esse in ccelo regnantibus voce vel mente supplicare, impie sentire. Sanctorum quoque martyrum, et aliorum cum Christo viventium sancta corpora, qua? viva membra fuerunt Christi, et tcmpkvm Spiritus sancti, ab ipso ad ecternam vitam suscitanda et glorificanda, a fidelibus veneranda esse, per qua? multa beneficia a Deo hominibus prassf.antur : ita at affirmantes, Sanctorum Reliquiis venerationem atque henorem non deberi, vel eas, aliaque sacra monumenta a fidelibus inutiliter honorari, atque eorum opis impetrancla? causa Sanctorum memorias fnistra frequentari, omnino damnandos esse, prout jampridem eos clamnavit, et nunc etiam damnat Ecclesia. Imagines porro Christi, Deipara? Vir g"inis et aliorum Sanctorum in templis praesertim habendas, et retinendas ; eisque debitum honorem et venerationem impertiendam ; non quod credatur inesse aliqua in iis divinitas, vel virtus, propter quam sint colenda?; vel quod ab eis sit aliquid petendum j vel quod fiducia in imaginibus sit Agenda, veluti olim fiebat a Gentibus, qua? in ldoiis spsni suam collocabant ; sed quoniam ho Catholic theology has two different words for the veneration of saints, and that of God and theMediator,theformerbeing called dulia, the latter latria; and the church must watch that the former does not degenerate into the latter. How much the worship of saints, and the great variety of human characters which thus became objects of veneration, contributed to the diffusion of Christianity in the middle ages; how it brought Christianity into connexion with the fine arts, by affording the most copious store of religious subjects to the genius of artists; and how the worship of the Virgin Mary became a very active element in the religion of the middle ages, as it still is a prominent feature in the Roman Catholic faithwould be highly interesting to consider; but our limits will not allow it. The Catholics regard their notions on the subject of saints as supported by different, parts of the Bible, e. g. Timothy ii, 12, various passages in the Apocalypse, Jeremiah xv, 1 and 5, Luke xvi, 9, and the writings of many of the early fathers, as Origen, who wrote in the third century (1 de OraL, 11. 11, and several other places of the same character): for the invocation oi' the saints, they refer chiefly to Genesis xlviii, 16, John xii, 26, xvii, 20, and many passages in earlyChristian writers. The Protestants object to the whole doctrine, and allege that even Christ himself said, " There is none good but one, that is God ;" that not only is the idea of saints, as intercessors, no where contained in the Bible, but that it originated centuries after the establishment of Christianity ; that it is against the chief doctrine of Christianity, which declares all men to be sinners, and to be saved only by Christ; that it is impious to imagine God like an earthly king, who is influenced by the suggestions of those around him; that Christ's mediation is founded either on an atonement, which is the more general opinion, or on his bringing the gospel to men; and that it can be clearly proved that many saints, now so considered, never existed, but were the offspring of ignorance, mistaking, e. g. a Greek word in a church inscription for the name of the saint to whom the church was dedicated, and that others were of a very equivocal charac? nos qui eis exhibetur, refertur ad prototypa, quae ilia? repra?sentant; ita ut per imagines, quas osculamur, et corani quibus caput aperimus et procumbimus, Christum adorsmus, et Sanctos, quorum ilia? similitudinem gerunt, veiveremur, id quod Conciliprum, prsesertim vero secunda? Nica?na? Synpdi, decretis contra imagmum oppug natores est sancitum." tcrs ;* that fraud evidently sometimes had part in the creation of saints; and that a doctrine, which has led, for centuries, and so universally, to such gross superstitions, as Catholics themselves admit, have often arisen from the doctrine of saints, notwithstanding these superstitions are not supported by the council of Trent, must be highly dangerous; for the essential question with regard to every law and doctrine, is not For what was it intended ? but How does it operate ? If Protestants do not see that the Bible contains any divine command which could fairly lead to the invocation of saints, and to the supposition of their intercession for men with God, still less do they find any ground for the veneration of relics.The doctrine of saints seems to us to have essentially originated from the virtues displayed by the martyrs. Heroism in suffering always remained the most common ground of saintship, as, in fact, is natural, since thegreat Prototype of Christianity became such by his sufferings. When the gospel had filled the hearts of believers with the hope of an eternal life of felicity, death soon came to be considered as affording occasion for joy rather than sorrow to the friends of the departed. Cyprian (q. v.) pronounces this opinion distinctly in his De Mortalitate, The anniversaries of the death of friends were celebrated by partaking of the Lord's supper, and oy a gift laid on the altar, in return for which the prayer for the soul of the deceased was introduced into the prayers which preceded the communion. If this was the case with all, it was naturally still more so with the martyrs whose death was their glory. Hence the anniversaries of their suffering were called the dies natales^natalitiamartyrum^yivc6\ia rwv paprvpiav. We find in Eusebius (lib. iv, 15) the report of the martyrdom of bishop Polycarp, by the community of Smyrna. They say there, in answer to the reproaches of the heathens, "They (the heathen) do not know that we can never forsake that Christ, who has suffered for all the saved, nor can worship any one besides. Him* Doctor Reichlin Meldegg, Catholic professor crdinarius of ecclesiastical history, and temporary dean of the theological faculty at Freiburg", says, in his Proposals for Reformations in the German Catholic Church, " The old Roman breviary, crannied with fictitious or much colored anecdotes of saints, with repetitions that weary, with passages of indecorous import, &,c, requires a thorough revision." In another passage he says, " Some masses are founded on stones not sufficiently proved, or palpable fictions, as the mass of the lancea Christi, the inventio cruets; &c."we worship, as the Son of God; but the martyrs we love, as they deserve, on account of their unparalleled love of their King and Lord," &c. They continue0 "We took up his bones, which are more precious than gold and jewels, and laid them down in the proper place; and God will grant, that we may assemble there in joy and gladness, and celebrate the festival of his martyrdom, in memory of the departed champions, and to exercise and prepare those who are still awaiting the struggle." In this passage we see, already, the beginning of the veneration of relics. By degrees, the veneration of martyrs and the estimation of their relics increased ; and, according to the unanimous testimony of the most distinguished "fathers of the church of the fourth and fifth centuries, they were even then invoked as intercessors at the throne of God. In ages when information is transmitted chiefly by tradition, facts easily become exaggerated, without intentional violation of the truth ; and soon many miracles were reported to have been wrought by their relics or intercession. At the same time, it is undeniable, that, with the diffusion of Christianity, when danger was no longer connected with its profession, and , many persons came over to this religion who had but an imperfect knowledge of it, and had not abandoned entirely their former superstitions, pagan notions often became blended with the new religion; and, as many statues of pagan deities were changed into those of martyrs and other persons distinguished for piety, so some hymns, originally addressed to these deities, were now sometimes addressed to departed Christians, who had been eminent for piety; and the special protection of certain persons or things, as ships, churches, &c, was attributed to them as intercessors with God. When monarchs became Christians, and the persecution of believers ceased, so that instances of martyrdom were no longer found, the retiring from the world to the seclusion of a convent, or other great sacrifices made from religious motives, often led to investing the deceased with the character of intercessors with God. A pious bishop, who had devoted his whole life to the welfare of his flock, was looked upon as retaining his care for it in the regions of eternal bliss; so that, by degrees, many saints arose ; and it naturally happened that this honor was sometimes paid to unworthy persons, and sometimes actual fraud was committed to obtain it. It was not uncommon for a person to be. Jong considered and invoked as a saint, when it remained doubtful whether he was so regarded by the church. Hence we find that the council at Frankfort on the Maine, in 794, prohibited the invocation of new saints; and Charlemagne again, in 805, revived the decree. The pope at last took the matter into his own hands. Pope John XV, in 993, gave the first example of a canonization by the Roman see ; and Alexander III declared, in 1170, that canonization was an exclusive right of the pope, with whom it has lince remained.* (See Canonization, and Beatification.) Few popes have become eaints. Pius V, in 1712, was the first for almost a thousand years, and, so for, has Deen the last. France, Naples, and the German empire, would not acknowledge he canonization of Gregory VII, by Benedict XIII, in 1728. One of the last, if lot the very last canonization, is that of cardinal J. M. Tomasi,in 1807. Countries, cities, arts, trades, orders, things, &c, have their patron saints ; but the church, it seems, determines nothing in relation to them. St. Denis is the patron of France ; St. George, of Russia ; Olaff, of Norway; Cnut or Canute, of Denmark; Nepomuc, of Bohemia ; Cecilia, of music ; Hubert, of hunting; Crispin, of shoemakers, &c. The Greek church (q.v.) does not acknowledge the saints canonized after its separation from the Western Church. (See Acta Sanctorum.)