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Making Saints: How The Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes A Saint, Who Doesn'T, And Why Paperback – July 23, 1996

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Making Saints: How The Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes A Saint, Who Doesn'T, And Why + A Brief History of Saints + The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity (The Haskell Lectures on History of Religions)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This examination of the politics of sainthood by Newsweek 's religion editor investigates the candidacies of New Yorkers Terence Cardinal Cooke and Dorothy Day, the expenses incurred by biographical research, scholarly rivalries and the focus on required miracles. "Canonization may strike some as an imprimatur for culthood but as Woodward shows, even in today's secular society, saints matter," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The Vatican allowed Woodward, a veteran Vatican observer and Newsweek journalist, unprecedented access to the persons and documentation involved in canonization. He traces the evolution of the process through two millennia, concentrating on recent declarations of sainthood and pending cases. He reports on a little-noticed change in 1983 in which a historical-critical review replaced the former adversarial debate between the "Devil's" and the petitioners' advocates. Another change was in the criteria for martyrdom to include victims of Nazism. He ends with an eloquent plea on behalf of Cardinal Newman, whose beatification has made little progress. Intriguing, thoughtful, and intelligently critical.
- Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (July 23, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684815303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684815305
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #923,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on September 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
In "Making Saints," Kenneth Woodward lifts the veil on what to many is the mysterious process of determining who will (and who will not) be declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. For the extremely pious, the idea of human meddling in the saint-making process is sacrilegious. But Woodward explores the touchy area where devoted laborers for the Church, through their human work, manage to operate hand in hand with Divinity. "Making Saints" is not an exposé of the Vatican's machinery for canonization, but it does show how the Church's current institutional needs and prejudices strongly shape the choices of the causes under consideration.

Who will become a saint? In short, it is the person of great sanctity whose example happens to be deemed important by the reigning Pope and other high leaders of the Church. If the Church needs to highlight the sanctity of married life, it searches for married couples whose sanctity could inspire the faithful. Sometimes, this effort is comic, as the Church, trying to move forward, trips over its own past priorities. For instance, the married couple chosen by the Church as an exemplar of sanctified married life are Louis and Azélie Martin, all of whose surviving children entered convents, and one of whom, Thérèse of Lisieux, became a saint. In choosing the Martins as candidates for sainthood, the Church did not stray far from its discomfort with sex, except perhaps as a means of producing priests and nuns.

Obvious candidates like Archbishop Oscar Romero -- whose opposition to rightwing government-sanctioned death squads in El Salvador earned him a rifle bullet in the chest -- is not likely to be considered a saint soon.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. McGuire on February 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm an orthodox Catholic who teaches high school theology. As such, I frequently cringe at biased reporting that seeks either to portray the Church as either absolutely unblemished or as unrelentingly evil. Hats off to Kenneth Woodward for what strikes me as a completely even-handed look at the little-understood process of canonizing saints in the Catholic Church. This, coupled with the unparalleled access he was given by Vatican officials, makes this THE book for those interested in finding out more about what he calls "the saint-makers." I was fascinated from beginning to end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jin chen on September 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Format: Hardcover
One of the most intriguing components that the Catholic Church undertakes is in the making of Catholic Saints, one, I think, that has an allure of beautiful mystery to it, because, at its core, it is one of many stark manifestations of the Divine. In a beautifying and or canonization case, it is the power of the Divine behind a particular candidate. For the faithful, there is something human and tangible about the saints; they are Gospel artists, and, more intimately, friends who are held to the highest esteem, because they have lived out the Gospel truth to such a heroic degree and often with mysterious yet faithful Herculean effort; it is a joyful effort that is always preached as worthy of emulation, and rightfully so, because it is an example that fosters the best of human nature. People thrive on love, kindness and goodness. And the saints exemplify that truth. Yet, how do the saints, these beacons of light, come about? How does the Church know who is and who isn't a saint? And what is involved in the behind-the-scenes process of beatifying and canonizing someone? How much money is funneled into a cause? What is the view of the medical board who analyze the supposed miracles offered up in cases of beautifying and canonizing a person? These are just some of the basic questions that Kenneth Woodward tackles in his probing investigation which takes him to the various corners of the world, allowing him to informally see and scrutinize an assortment of causes which are on the books.

At the beginning, a candidate's reputation must last after death, where there is a positive lingering memory of all what he or she did in living out God's will.
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19 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth G. Melillo on September 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Especially in the current climate, where more people are canonised in a year than were in the previous century, the interesting background of the process, and how it has changed in recent decades, is quite interesting.
Unfortunately, the writer has far more understanding of the "legal process" in this area than any of either popular devotion or very obvious reasons why one candidate may be favoured over another. For example, devotion to saints, amongst the general population, often is not at all based on identifying with the total circumstances of the saint's life, but with a particular aspect. The author devotes much time to the lack of being "uninhibited" in bed which would supposedly keep married couples from identifying with Louis and Zelie Martin (whose marriage began rather oddly largely because both had longed for religious life). Aside from that one wonders how he would have known such details, that such are seldom mentioned in polite company much less in archives, and that a couple who had nine children must have not spent all of their time in chapel, it would be ridiculous to think that those devoted to the pair would have sexual inhibitions or a negative attitude as a result. The people I've encountered who wish to see Louis and Zelie canonised are generally those who envy that the Martins had five children who gave their lives to the Church... rather than two who want no part of church at all.
Part of what marks one for beatification is a continued devotion. Heavens, if two women, both saintly, lived in the same period, and one was the foundress of a religious order, the other a local parent, the fact that the cause of the former would be more likely to endure is simply practical.
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