Ideas

Stalking the Holy Revisited

As the canonization of Pope John Paul II approaches, IDEAS looks again at how saints are "made". Contributor Michael Higgins entwines threads from anthropology, politics, theology, and psychology -- as well as case-studies of saints like Mother Teresa, Pope Pius XII, and Padre Pio. The result is an extensive examination of sainthood, which brings surprising answers to one man's search...

As the canonization of Pope John Paul II approaches, IDEAS looks again at how saints are "made". Contributor Michael Higgins entwines threads from anthropology, politics, theology, and psychology -- as well as case-studies of saints like Mother Teresa, Pope Pius XII, and Padre Pio. The result is an extensive examination of sainthood, which brings surprising answers to one man's search for the holy.


On Sunday, April 27 many people around the world will be watching the Vatican.  On that day, Pope Francis will watch as two popes will be canonized: John XXIII and John Paul II.  It is expected that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, will also be there.

But the ceremonies at Saint Peter's offer something much more than the rather unusual spectacle of two living popes attending the canonization of two other popes.

The canonization allows a rare insight into the process, and politics, of making saints.

There are about 6,000 officially recognized saints in the Roman Catholic Church, with more being added each year.  A saint is someone whom the church has formally recognized as a model of holiness and worthy of veneration.  Identifying who will be a saint and who will not, is a long, rigorous, and often intensely political process. 

Sometimes the candidates sail smoothly into sainthood.  Others are dogged by controversy.  And sometimes the candidates end up in a kind of near-saintly limbo.

In 2006, scholar and biographer  Michael Higgins prepared a three-part series for IDEAS about the making of saints.  It was called  Stalking the Holy: the Politics of Saint-Making.

In this IDEAS episode, Michael Higgins talks about what the canonization of two popes reveals about how saints are made. 


Participants in the program:

Istvan Deak, Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University, New York. 

Michael Marrus, Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto.

Peter Gumpel, Professor Emeritus, Gregorian University (Rome), currently Relator in the cause of Pius XII for sainthood.

Kathryn Spink, author of  Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Elizabeth Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Fordham University, New York.

Paolo Molinari, SJ, Retired Jesuit Postulator-General, Rome.

Michael Czerny, SJ, official with Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.


Also in the program:

Malcolm Muggeridge, producer of BBC documentary on  Mother Teresa, Something Beautiful for God.

Christopher Hitchens, author of  The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.

Pamela Wallin, former host of CBC Newsworld.


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