Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints

In commemoration of the great feast today, I'd like to point out some of the following resources for catalogs of saints and martyrs both officially canonized (by the unfortunate centralized bureaucratic process) and otherwise, both Western and Eastern:

The Roman Martyrology
The Coptic Synaxarium
The Ethiopian Synaxarium
Greek Orthodox Name-Days Project
Byzantine Saints Calendar

The Roman martyrology is quite comprehensive, at least up until the point the process became bureaucratized. The Eastern synaxaria tend to have fewer entries, but the ones they have are generally longer acta of the saints in question.

I don't particularly like the current canonization process. While it may make sense to have the Pope teach universally (and thus infallibly) the "dogmatic fact" that certain people are in heaven, as models for the whole Church...requiring this for each and every Saint in order to be publicly venerated is ridiculous. It also poses problems for the question of post-schism Orthodox saints after a reunion. These could not be canonized in the "dogmatic fact" sort of way (and the East would probably balk if the Pope tried!) and yet surely their local veneration could and should continue.

There are something like 10,000 saints in the Roman Martyrology, and yet since the process was centralized in around the 12th century, there have been, of course, much much fewer. I could see making the distinction between canonization on the universal level, and beatification at the local (which veneration could then spread to other calendars and become de facto universal, as happened with all the saints of the First Millennium). But the fact that Rome has centralized even just beatification (which allows only for "local" venerations anyway) makes no sense at all!

The process has likely stopped many, especially martyrs, from ever entering the rolls of the saints (which, prior to it, would have been basically automatic for martyrs). I have often thought one of the grand projects following upon East-West reunion would be the compilation of some sort of definitive unified martyrology, adding all the saints from both sides, from all the different ritual churches (though without altering their own calendars, of course). So if you know any more unique sources or catalogs from the East, I would love to see and might add them to the list.

I'd also like to point out the book El Martirologio del Japón by Juan Ruiz-de-Medina. It's not in English, and it isn't really available online except in snippets, but I believe it contains a comprehensive catalog of all the known documented Christian martyrdoms in Japan, whether those martyrs have entered the "official" Vatican vetting process or not. As Catholic Encyclopedia says, "There is not in the whole history of the Church a single people who can offer to the admiration of the Christian world annals as glorious, and a martyrology as lengthy, as those of the people of Japan."

It annoys me when a group of martyrs is taken as "representative" of all the country's martyrs, as if the rest are thus covered. There are enough undocumented martyrs throughout history already (though they have their anonymous feast today); the least we could do is remember and enroll all the ones we do actually know about. Even if it means (gasp) a less bureaucratic process...

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