As Saints (plurality of saint ) people which is regarded as a deity particularly related parties or as a religious and ethical point of exemplary be designated. The recognition of saints can be reserved for religious or political authorities, or it can take place in the acclamation and veneration of the believing people; The occurrence of supernatural phenomena ( miracles ) in connection with the saints can play an important role . The subsequent - mostly posthumous - cultic veneration of saints is called veneration of saints .
In common parlance, the terms saints and the veneration of saints refer to the corresponding Christian ideas. Even if the terms are closely associated with popular piety , both phenomena can also be found in other world religions.
Definition of religious studies
The concept of the sacred has not yet been satisfactorily defined in religious studies . On the one hand, due to the differing demands that different religions place on a saint, no generally applicable definition is possible for all religions. On the other hand, the religious type of the saint overlaps with several other types of religious authority, and it has not yet been possible to find a clearly distinguishing characteristic.
The boundaries of the types outlined in the discourse of religious authorities are fluid and can overlap in important points. However, there is no automatism that is universally valid for all religions.
The saint has typological similarities of this kind, especially with the martyr and the hero : his grave or the place where his relics are kept is developing into a cultic center of special rank. It is the destination of general veneration, pilgrimages, and is often used as the center of a necropolis . All three types are assigned a function as the believer's advocate against divine authority.
As with the hero, veneration is often given during his lifetime, but as with the martyr, it can only take place after death . One difference to the type of martyr is that the latter, by definition, attains religious perfection not through his way of life, but through the manner in which he dies, while in the case of saints perfection is revealed essentially through his previous life, even without such a martyrdom. In contrast to the hero, he lacks divine or semi-divine descent.
The saint may or may not be a cleric or consecrated man . Furthermore, the saint can have the charism of the founder of a religion or a reformer , but in contrast to these, his goal is not the preaching of a (religious) doctrine and the subsequent formation of a group of believers, but rather to emerge through his exemplary religious life.
Finally, his work distinguishes him from the mythical savior in the real, if often unreliable tradition, history and the missing aspect of redemption in his life.
The declaration and veneration of saints fulfills a primordial religious need of people for models in their faith and at the same time confirmation of it. The members of the religious community who are recognized as exemplary leave the worldly - human - community. However, they offer the possibility of maintaining contact between this world and the hereafter , because although they have been absorbed into the respective divine glory, they remain present in this world through their grave, their relics and their worship and thus form a connection to that of the living believers themselves sought salvation. Through the miracles attributed to them during or after their life, they give the believer a positive answer to the question of the meaning and truthfulness of the respective religion.
The Christian theology is marked by a double concept of holiness: the Saints par excellence is God himself, but not in the sense of a transcendent static, that is a condition in divine spheres without impact on this world. Rather, God's holiness is understood as an immanent dynamic that can separate all earthly things for itself and is therefore the basis of their holiness. In the New Testament this view is modified. Now it is Jesus Christ , in his unique relationship with the Father, who, through his death and resurrection, works holiness in those who follow him.
Christian holiness has two components. On the one hand, God chooses a "holy people" in both the Old and the New Testament: the people of Israel and the so-called "new holy people" of the church . On the other hand, there is always the concept of the individual holiness of an individual. Individual holiness is always only a manifestation of a holiness as a member of the church, which in its entirety represents the “communio sanctorum”, ie the “community of saints”. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says: “When the Church canonized certain believers, that is, solemnly declares that they have heroically exercised the virtues and lived in fidelity to the grace of God, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness that is in her is. It strengthens the hope of believers by giving them the saints as models and advocates. "
Ancient and Middle Ages
The early Christian veneration of saints followed the forms known from the Jewish faith . There the high priest was known for a long time as the “official intercessor” of the people, the mediation of angels between God and man, the veneration of great figures of the past and martyrdom .
The high priestly mediator function was transferred entirely to Christ, and it was only after the theological clarification of the early fathers that the worship of other people who had followed Christ did not affect the uniqueness of Christ's mediator function that the early church began to invoke martyrs and the apostles .
The first evidence of the veneration of martyrs is the report on Polycarp of Smyrna , written around 160. In the western church, the veneration of martyrs probably spread during the persecutions in the 3rd century and, under the influence of Tertullian , united to the veneration of the martyrs as saints. Initially, this veneration was limited to the day of death and the tomb of the martyr, but with the advent of relic veneration, the spatial and temporal possibilities of veneration multiplied. The first tangible evidence of the understanding of the saints as intercessors with God can be found in a graffito on the Roman church of San Sebastiano from the year 260.
With the change of Christianity to the state religion of the Roman Empire , the concept of saints also expanded, since martyrdom could no longer be the highest testimony to a Christian life because of the discontinued persecution. Gradually - under the decisive influence of Clement of Alexandria - so-called "confessores", that is, confessors who had been persecuted but escaped martyrdom, and people with an "angelic life", whose radically ascetic - virgin life was more permanent Fight against the seductions of Satan was understood, included in the circle of venerable "saints".
Since the early Middle Ages , either great figures of light from Christendom ( church teachers , kings, so-called " knight and soldier saints " etc.) or people who offered an alternative concept to everyday Christian life ( Francis , Benedict ) were revered regionally as saints by the people. In the case of the so-called "noble saints", i.e. rulers, bishops or founders of orders, the initiative of veneration came in most cases from their successors in office or members of their dynasty, who thereby also hoped to gain greater legitimacy for themselves. Church recognition generally followed later. In order to officially prevent arbitrariness and proliferation of the cults of saints, the popes endeavored to obtain the sole right to canonize and thus control the veneration of saints, especially because of their importance for the certification of political and dynastic legitimacy and not least because of their economic legitimacy Significance for the cult and pilgrimage sites also represented an important power-political factor. The first papal canonization ( Ulrich von Augsburg ) took place in 993, and in the course of the 11th and 12th centuries the popes were finally able to prevail against the competing bodies of councils and local bishops. Alexander III decreed in 1171 the sole responsibility of the Pope for canonizations. But this sole responsibility only became generally binding through the Liber Extra of 1234, an addendum to the Decretum Gratiani . In the Middle Ages the Roman Curia was very cautious about canonization and canonized only 79 people, while popular piety produced hundreds of new saints at the same time, even without papal participation.
According to the factual and terminological clarification of the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, Christian theology distinguishes worship (Greek λατρεια , Latin adoratio ), which is reserved for God alone, from worship (Greek δουλεια , Latin veneratio ), the belongs to the saints and their relics . The so-called Dulia is fundamentally different from the Latrie , or adoration. Within the Dulia, the veneration, another distinction is made between the Hyperdulia ("high veneration"), which belongs exclusively to the Virgin Mary .
Already Ambrose of Milan had the "patronus" used for the Saints in the 4th century the Roman term that patron the protective function of the clientele being involved in Roman society. The idea, which reached full training in the High Middle Ages, to choose one's own patron saints for nations and dioceses, churches and cities ( city patron ), later even classes and professions , under whose protection and help one wanted to place oneself, make the transformed understanding of the "saints" clear; The accumulation of relics and the urge for miracles were theologically undesirable consequences. The Fourth Lateran Council condemned "that the believers are deceived with fantastic stories or forged documents, as it usually happens in many places out of profit-seeking." But it could not stop the development in practice. The character of the saints as role models in the Christian life ( Imitatio Christi ) receded in favor of the assigned functions as helpers. The believers specifically chose saints for intercession (often as patrons of illness), to whom certain attributes were ascribed. For example, Blasius is invoked against throat diseases, Sebastian against the plague . The development of the cult of the fourteen helpers in need also falls into this context.
It was not until the Reformation that there was clear criticism of the prevailing situation. A role of the saints as direct mediators of the requested was strictly rejected with reference to the Bible and the uniqueness of Christ's mediation in salvation was brought back to the fore. After the theological consolidation of Lutheranism , there was no longer any danger in the care of the memory of various early church saints. The memory of the saints was endorsed and recognized in the Confessio Augustana XXI as a moment of personal strengthening in faith. In addition to the recognized “old” saints, pre-reformers such as Jan Hus and then also actors of the Reformation - especially Luther himself - joined in, so that various theologians believe they recognize traits of “Luther worship”, a. manifest in the Luther pictures in Protestant worship rooms.
In contrast to the Lutheran Protestants, the Reformed rejected the veneration of saints altogether. Ulrich Zwingli and Johannes Calvin saw pilgrimages and the veneration of relics as a work of Satan and emphasized the validity of the Old Testament ban on images , which the veneration of saints violates.
The Council of Trent put 1563 the Roman Catholic doctrine on the issue of the veneration of saints precisely that: As the saints in heaven with Christ ruled that it was "good and useful" she humbly for help to call to God by the sole Savior and Savior Jesus Christ to obtain benefits (DH 1821). The goal of the veneration of saints is God. The Second Vatican Council confirmed this teaching and again pointed out that the intercession of the saints with God is not "constitutive of salvation" like the high priestly mediator function of Christ (LG 48-69). The apostolic constitution Lumen Gentium states that the saints “may be fellow destinies of our humanity”, but that they are “more perfectly shaped in the image of Christ”. Just as the Christian community among the pilgrims on earth brings us closer to Christ, so too the communion with the saints unites us with Christ, from whom as source and head all grace and the life of God's people themselves proceed. (LG 50). The Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy states that the feasts of the saints proclaimed Christ "in his servants" by glorifying Christ himself as feasts of the members of the body of Christ, its head, Christ himself.
In the Eastern Churches , the veneration of saints is a natural part of spiritual life. The representation of saints in icons has been documented since the 4th century . The veneration is expressed to this day in the painting and worship of icons, the writing and reading of saints' lives as well as the recurring canonization . As in the Catholic Church, the graves and relics are visited and venerated, people, churches and places are named after them and their memorial day is celebrated liturgically in the church year . The pilgrim's pilgrimage to the holy grave and finally seeing, touching and kissing the relic or icon is more present in the Eastern Churches than in the West and serves to participate in the special closeness of the saint to God.
The Old Catholic Church regards the veneration of saints as meaningful, regardless of how individuals are recognized as saints and recommended for veneration. It remains important, however, that the veneration of saints is clearly different from the form of worship and cult, which is only due to God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In the old Catholic worship and prayer life, therefore, usually only God is addressed directly. All that is mentioned of the saints is that the believers are in fellowship with them, and they are presented as role models in the faith. Above all, saints of the undivided Church of the first millennium and Christians from later times who have achieved ecumenical recognition as special models and models, such as Francis of Assisi , Teresa of Avila , Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Martin Luther King , Edith Stein , are venerated or Oscar Romero .
As folk saints are the saints and blesseds refers to those especially the Roman Catholic Church, which enjoy particularly high in popular devotion and popularity. Often the celebrations of these saints are associated with particular customs, such as the Memorial of Saint Barbara with cutting Barbara branches or " Bärbeletreiben ", that of St. Nicholas with the gifting of the children of St. Martin with the Martinszug and martinisingen , the St. Lucia especially in Sweden with the Luciafest , a light celebration. For the feast of Lucia as well as the commemoration of St. Agatha are also baked breads . The life and work of many popular saints were embellished in the form of legends over the course of time.
When considering who is one of the popular saints, there can be regional as well as temporal differences. In France, for example, St. Johanna von Orleans is also considered a popular saint; in Spanish-speaking countries, St. Teresa of Avila is especially venerated, in Sweden besides St. Lucia also St. Birgitta to the popular saints. In the English-speaking world and in the Rhineland , St. Judas Thaddäus known as the patron saint in seemingly hopeless concerns. The many churches, pious brotherhoods or guilds in Europe consecrated to St. Margaretha or Katharina go back to the great veneration these saints enjoyed among the people.
Popular saints include Mary, the Mother of God, and her mother Anna , St. Archangel Michael , the hll. Joseph and Francis , the hll. Anthony the Hermit , Jodokus and Antony of Padua , the fourteen helpers in need , St. Cecilia , St. Sebastian , St. Blasius , whose feast day is connected with the donation of the Blasius blessing , more recently also St. Therese von Lisieux , brother Konrad and, especially in Italy, Padre Pio. The "holy sorrow ", which was also called Wilgefortis, is legendary .
Worship of Christian saints outside of Christianity
In Haitian Voodoo , Christian saints such as Maria , Simon Petrus , James the Elder , Philomena of Rome , Patrick of Ireland and Ulrich of Augsburg are worshiped in the form of voodoo spirits ; this is a case of syncretism .
The Cuban Santería equates numerous Orisha (good spirits) in an analogous way with Christian saints, which affects significantly more saints than in Voodoo and the equation forms the core of the religion.
Holiness in Judaism
In Judaism in general, “קדוש” (“kaddosh”, Hebrew: holy ) is a word that primarily has the simple meaning of particular or the particular and thus, on the contrary, is too profane (in the sense of secular , normal , everyday ).
In Orthodox Judaism , personal sanctity is dealt with extremely cautiously. Mainly Jewish communities are considered holy in the Jewish sense . In religious practice, however, the veneration of saints developed de facto already in Old Testament times, which can be determined from the existence of many saints' graves.
There was no official resistance to a certain veneration of the prophets (especially Moses ), since the time of the Maccabees resistance struggle , martyrdom also gained in importance. Since late antiquity , popular piety has developed into a regular grave cult around graves of particularly pious Jews, and synagogues are often even built over or near a grave. The type of saint was particularly strong in Eastern European Hasidism , who in the " tzaddik " worshiped a savior with a particularly close relationship with God and a mediator quality of God's grace for people.
In today's Judaism, saints' graves also play a role as pilgrimage destinations . Prominent examples of this are the graves of the patriarchs in Hebron, the tomb of David in Jerusalem, the grave of the kabbalistic rabbi Shimon ben Jochai in Meron or the Chabad leader Menachem Mendel Schneerson .
The Old Testament patriarchs and prophets were also included in the ranks of Christian and Islamic saints.
Holiness in islam
In Islam , a veneration of saints that comes close to the Christian understanding of a saint developed early on. Soon after her death ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib , Muhammad's son-in-law , and his sons Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali were venerated as saints in the Shiite direction . Such saints also appear among the Sunnis , including al-Chidr (al-Ḫiḍr, "the green man"). His close relationship with the prophet Elijah is expressed in the Turkish spring festival Hıdrellez ; Oriental Christians identify al-Khidr with St. George .
Many saints have been referred to as "friends of God" ( auliyāʾ Allāh ). This is a term that already appears in the Koran (Sura 10:62). Even if the “friend of God” has led a consistently obedient and godly life, he does not come closer to him through his own performance, but rather only through Allah's work. There is no official canonization process, and veneration of a person as a saint results from the consensus of the faithful. Therefore, not only people from the time after Mohammed, but also prophets and patriarchs from the time before can be awarded holiness.
The image of the holy in Islam is shaped by the fact that holy intercessors and mediators between the believers and the hidden Allah, can work miracles and are considered guardians of the faith. Many graves of Islamic saints are still the target of Ziyāra pilgrimages. Other places are visited because they are in some other way related to the saint in question. The pilgrims see the pilgrimage sites as a source of strength, as the spiritual energy ( baraka ) of a saint, according to the Muslim view, also works beyond earthly death, and is sometimes even considered to be stronger than during life. The saint receives his baraka through a spiritual chain ( silsila ) that connects him with the family of the prophet.
The later Islamic veneration of saints mostly refers to known mystics ( Sufis ). Often these also worked as the head ( sheik ) of a Sufi order ( Tariqa ), as they emerged increasingly from the 12th and 13th centuries. At that time, which is considered to be one of the first heydays of Sufism, the Islamic mystics found a great response from the general public, which explains the strong veneration that is related to these people. One of the internationally best known saints is ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī , whose grave in Baghdad has attracted pilgrims from all over the Islamic world. Dreams of ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī also play a large role in Islamic mysticism. For example, he is said to have appeared to the West African religious leader Usman dan Fodio and awarded him the “sword of truth”.
In some Sunni groups such as the Wahhabi movement ( Salafism ) and the Ahl-i Hadīth , veneration of saints is explicitly opposed because it runs counter to the principle of the absolute uniqueness and sublimity of a god ( tauhid ) and a cult that is not directed towards God but towards people be. When rejecting the veneration of saints, one invokes the Koran in these circles ( Sura 9 : 31; 10:19).
Holiness in Indian Religions
Saints of the Indian religions of Hinduism , Buddhism and Jainism can be roughly characterized by the fact that they are said to have reached a higher level of consciousness ( enlightenment ) through radical asceticism and meditation . The mediator character between divine authority and humans does not appear in the widespread atheistic or agnostic concepts.
The imprecise category of "Hinduism" makes a generally applicable definition of a "Hindu saint" practically impossible. However , we can observe a relatively widespread veneration of certain religious teachers who shaped the face of Hinduism in their time, such as Shankara , Ramakrishna or Gandhi .
In Buddhism the idea of saints is more concrete. The Hinayana sees the individual holiness given in the fact that a person, the arhat , after a strictly ascetic life and observance of the teachings of the Buddha, already reaches nirvana during his lifetime and thus leaves the cycle of rebirths . Also, Siddhartha Gautama , the four noble truths recognized and in the meditation has found perfect peace of mind, falls under the category of the sacred.
The thought of worshiping the relics of the Buddha, which was already present in Hinayana, was intensified in Mahayana . Here the Bodhisattvas are also venerated as saints, because although they have already achieved enlightenment, they want to forego nirvana out of altruism and also want to lead other people to enlightenment. Stupas were erected over their graves and relics, and stupas are still devoted to barefoot walking around to the right in reverence in Thailand, for example, mostly associated with offerings of flowers, incense and candles. Famous saints of Tibetan Buddhism are e.g. B. Padmasambhava , Milarepa and Tsongkhapa .
In Jainism , 63 exemplary people, including the 24 so-called Tirthankaras ("ford-riders", "trailblazers"), are venerated as saints because, although they themselves have already found redemption from the cycle of rebirths, they do the people at recurring intervals Have shown the way to enlightenment.
Holiness in Chinese Religions
In Confucianism , the term “sacred” was always associated with that of “noble”, which embodied the five Confucian cardinal virtues, humanity (Ren, 仁), justice (Yi, 義), ethical behavior (Li, 礼), wisdom (Zhi,智) and sincerity (Xin, 信) united in itself. In addition to Confucius himself and his students, these included ideal mythical rulers and the ruling emperors.
The Daoism , however revered various historical figures, which has been attributed in accordance with the Dao to have lived (eg. As the so-called " Eight Immortals "). They are often presented as having supernatural abilities that can also save from disease and death, and they are immortals . In the pantheon of Daoism, they are also often considered deities.
Related topics and special articles
- Saint calendar
- Iconographic saints attributes
- List of the blessed and saints
- List of canonizations
- Canon saint
- name day
- Saints in heraldry
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- Lexicon of saints
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- See Elizabeth Sirriyeh: Dreams and Visions in the World of Islam. A History of Muslim Dreaming and Foreknowing. IB Tauris, London, 2015. p. 163.