"This is a book of solid learning worn lightly. Its readable tone coupled with nuggets of juicy anecdote make the rich phenomenon of saints accessible to a wide audience, with great gain of insight." Elizabeth Johnson, Fordham University "In an age when heroes all too quickly become targets for media demolition, saints still have a capacity to fascinate. Whether we are religious or not, saints remain inspirational exemplars of ′a good life′ and remind us of the human capacity for wisdom and altruism in a world that is all too often violent and self–seeking. As Lawrence Cunningham indicates in his A Brief History of Saints , a single, simple definition of ′a saint′ is impossible. Different times and cultures highlight different human virtues but, as Lawrence Cunningham concludes, saints are ultimately people who ′do the ordinary in an extraordinary fashion.′ His book is an excellent example of clarity and succinctness as he summarizes complex historical and theological material. In a brief space he offers a readable, insightful, sometimes amusing, and ecumenically sensitive history both of the role of saints and of the ways that Christian sainthood has been conceived and promoted. His comments on secularized models of ′sainthood′ in contemporary culture were illuminating and, in today’s increasingly global situation, his section on sainthood in different world religions will be especially welcome." Philip Sheldrake, University of Durham "This book could easily be justified as an addition to the school library" Networking: Catholic Education Today "A succinct but exceptional guide." M. Sweeney
From the Back Cover
A Brief History of Saints follows the rise of the cult of saints in Christianity from its origin in the age of the martyrs down to the present day. Referring to both well–known saints such as Joan of Arc and lesser–known figures like the “holy fools” in the Orthodox tradition, the book ranges over subjects as diverse as the history of canonization processes, the Reformation critique of the cult of saints, and the role of saints in other religious traditions. While special attention is paid to the Western tradition, Eastern Christianity is also considered. The final chapters outline how the saints may serve as a theological resource, as well as discussing the relevance of sainthood in postmodern culture. The volume contains additional material on patron saints and the iconography of saints in art.