Published: January 2011
Saints are recognized in almost every corner of the world, and although the Roman Catholic Church may investigate and confirm their status, saints are selected by Christian communities themselves. This dictionary of saints chronicles the mysterious history of sainthood, telling the story of individual holy lives from a modern perspective. It also unravels some of the myths surrounding sainthood, and explores related issues as the importance of symbolism in Christian art, how certain places become holy sites, the significance of relics, and how the purpose of pilgrimage has changed over the centuries. Listed in chronological order the saints directory begins with the Archangels and the Holy Family and moves through the centuries to the 20th-century saints. As well as dozens of well-known saints such as St Francis of Assisi and Joan of Arc, other more local and lesser-known saints are also described such as Wolfgang of Regensburg and Leander, Bishop of Seville. The life and work of each saint is described, as well as key facts such as dates, birth place, pastronage, feast day and emblem. The book is sumptuously illustrated with more than 350 illuminating images of saints, the places where they lived, beautiful churches and mysterious relics - among them some of the finest works of Western art. It will inform every reader interested in discovering more about Christianity and the lives of the saints.