The discourse of sanctity: Early modern canonization of saints as a collaborative process
Wood, Alice L.
Stroup, John M.
Master of Arts
Re-evaluation of the current scholarship on sainthood reveals canonization to be a process of deliberate creation by which candidates are first depicted as members of particular groups or communities and then represented as exemplary members of the Church of Rome. Collaboration among the multiple groups promoting the canonization yields saints with multiple identities who nevertheless serve as icons of consensus. This interpretation challenges the previous scholarly depiction of early modern canonization reform as the Vatican's attempt to change popular values by imposing elite models of sanctity. Instead, seventeenth-century reform, which forced communities to seek official approval for local saints, can be viewed as a unifying strategy rather than a repressive one. Scholars who emphasize the popular/elite dichotomy in religious culture or who examine only certain types of documents miss both the collaborative nature of canonizations and the importance of saints as symbols of Church cohesion.