Saints in Anglicanism

The term "saint" is a context-specific translation of the Latin "sanctus", meaning sacred, and originally referred to a sacred (extremely holy) person—however, since the 10th century, the Church has reserved the status of saint to people its official canon law (including calendar) has recognised for outstanding Christian service and conduct. When the Church of England was in union with Rome saints arose in the form of canonisation. Those martyrs and confessors recognised before the 10th century and since the break with Rome in the 16th century are generally still considered both "saints" and "Saints".[1] "Hero/heroine" are sometimes to refer to those holy people whom the church synod or an individual church praises as having had special benevolence who have lived and died since the split with Rome. It considers such muted terms a reversion to a more simple and cautious doctrine which emphasises empowerment (subsidiarity) to all members and components of the church.

The provinces of the Anglican Communion therefore commemorate many of the saints in the General Roman Calendar, often on the same days. In some cases, Anglican Calendars have kept pre-1954 celebratory days that the Roman Catholic Church abolished or moved.

Early Christianity

Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion has special holy days in honour of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles. Many of the parishes churches in the Communion have the names Christ Church, and St. Mary the Virgin. The same can also be said for the four great patrons of Great Britain and Ireland, Saint George (England), Saint David (Wales), Saint Patrick (Ireland), and Saint Andrew (Scotland).

English saints

English and local saints are often emphasized, and there are differences between the provinces' calendars. King Charles I of England is the only person to have been treated as a new saint by some Anglicans following the English Reformation, after which he was referred to as a martyr and included briefly in a calendar of the Book of Common Prayer.[2] This canonisation is, however, considered neither universal nor official in the Anglican Communion worldwide, and many national Churches list him as a martyr and not a Saint, or as neither.

English martyrs

There are several persons commemorated in the modern Anglican calendars who were opposed to the Roman Catholic Church. Of particular note are John Wycliffe and William Tyndale, for beginning the full translation of the Bible into English (a project which led to the Geneva Bible), and for writings against the Catholic Church.

The Oxford Martyrs, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer, are also commemorated for the courage they showed in death, and for their belief in a free Church of England.

Ugandan martyrs

Main article: Martyrs of Uganda

In the 19th century, a group of Anglican and Roman Catholic converts were martyred together in Uganda. On 18 October 1964, Pope Paul VI canonised the 22 Ugandan martyrs who were Roman Catholics.

Modern notables

Anglican Churches also commemorate various famous (often post-Reformation) Christians. The West front of Westminster Abbey, for example, contains statues of 20th-century martyrs like Maximilian Kolbe, Martin Luther King, Jr., Oscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Lucian Tapiedi (one of the Anglican New Guinea Martyrs).

Some traditional Anglican saints

Examples of modern Anglican saints

The ninth Lambeth Conference held in 1958 clarified the commemoration of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church in the Anglican Communion. Resolution 79 stated:

Modern Anglican saints

The following have been identified as heroes of the Christian Church in the Anglican Communion (post-reformation individuals commemorated in the Church of England Calendar,[4] excluding those primarily venerated by the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches):

See also


  1. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church by F. L. Cross (Editor), E. A. Livingstone (Editor) Oxford University Press, USA; 3 edition p.1444-1445 (March 13, 1997)
  2. Major, Richard (2006). "Anglican heroics? Sermon for the feast of King Charles the martyr" (PDF). Rector, St Mary's Episcopal Church, Staten Island, New York. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
  4. The Archbishop's Council (13 Dec 2007). "Common Worship: Festivals" (PDF). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 16 May 2012.

Further reading

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