001

Table of Contents
 
Praise
Other Books by Jason Boyett
Title Page
Copyright Page
Introduction
 
Chapter 1 - There Should Have Been a St. Webster
 
ANCHORITE
ASCETIC
BEATIFICATION
BENEDICTINE
CANON LAW
CANONIZATION
CARMELITE
CHASTITY
CISTERCIAN
COMMUNION OF SAINTS
CONCUPISCENCE
CONFESSOR
DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH
DOMINICAN
DULIA
FEAST DAY
FOURTEEN HOLY HELPERS
FRANCISCAN
GOLDEN LEGEND, THE
HAGIOGRAPHY
HALO
HAIR SHIRT
HERMIT
HEROIC VIRTUE
ICON
INCORRUPT
LAY BROTHER
MARTYR
MENDICANT
MIRACLE
MONASTICISM
MORTIFICATION
MYSTIC
ODOR OF SANCTITY
PATRON SAINT
PILLAR-SAINTS
RELICS
ROSARY
SAINT
SANTINO
SHRINE
STIGMATA
STYLITES
VENERATION
 
Chapter 2 - Saints You Should Know
 
ST. AMBROSE - Italy (337-397)
ST. ANSELM - Italy (1033-1109)
ST. ANTHONY - Egypt (251-356)
ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA - Portugal (1195-1231)
ST. ATHANASIUS - Alexandria (293-373)
ST. AUGUSTINE - Hippo Regius in North Africa (354-430)
ST. BASIL THE GREAT - Cappadocia (329-379)
ST. BEDE - Italy (672-735)
ST. BENEDICT OF NURSIA - Italy (480-547)
ST. BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX - Spain (1090-1153)
ST. BONIFACE - England (672-754)
ST. CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA - Alexandria, Egypt (287-305)
ST. CHRISTOPHER - Asia Minor? (third century)
ST. CLARE OF ASSISI - Spain (1194-1253)
ST. COLUMBA - Ireland (521-597)
ST. ERASMUS - Rome (third century)
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI - Italy (1181-1226)
ST. FRANCIS XAVIER - Spain (1506-1552)
 
Chapter 3 - Saints You Should Know
 
ST. GEORGE - Anatolia/Turkey (ca. 275-303)
ST. GREGORY THE GREAT - Rome (540-604)
ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - Italy (1491-1556)
ST. JEROME - Bethlehem (347-420)
ST. JOAN OF ARC - France (1412-1431)
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM - Constantinople (349-407)
ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS - Spain (1542-1591)
ST. LUCY - Syracuse, Italy (283-304)
ST. MARGARET OF ANTIOCH - Antioch (third century?)
ST. MARTIN DE PORRES - Peru (1579-1639)
ST. MARY OF EGYPT - Egypt (344-421)
ST. THOMAS MORE - London (1478-1535)
ST. NICHOLAS - Asia Minor (270-343)
ST. PATRICK - Ireland (fifth century)
ST. PADRE PIO - Italy (1887-1968)
ST. TERESA OF ÁVILA - Spain (1515-1582)
ST. THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX - France (1873-1897)
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS - Italy (1225-1274)
ST. THOMAS BECKET - France (1118-1170)
ST. VALENTINE - Rome (third century)
ST. VINCENT DE PAUL - France (1581-1660)
 
Chapter 4 - There’s a Saint for That
 
ABANDONED CHILDREN
ABDOMINAL PAINS
ACCOUNTANTS
ACTORS
ADOPTED CHILDREN
ADVERTISERS & ADVERTISING
AIDS SUFFERERS
AIRLINE PILOTS
ALCOHOLICS
ARCHITECTS
ARMS DEALERS
ARTISTS
ASTRONAUTS
BABIES
BAKERS
BANKERS
BARBERS
BARTENDERS
BEEKEEPERS
BEGGARS
BLACK PEOPLE
BLIND PEOPLE
BLOOD BANKS
BOATERS
BOOKSELLERS
BOWEL DISORDERS
BOY SCOUTS
BOYS
BREAST CANCER SUFFERERS
BREASTFEEDING
BREWERS
BRICKLAYERS
BRIDES
BROADCASTERS
BUILDERS
BUSINESS PEOPLE
BUTCHERS
CAB DRIVERS
CANCER PATIENTS
CARPENTERS
CATS
CHARCOAL-BURNERS
CHARITIES
CHASTITY
CHILDBIRTH
CHILDREN
CIVIL SERVANTS
COBBLERS
COIN COLLECTORS
COMEDIANS
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS
CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
CONTAGIOUS DISEASES
COOKS
COUGHS
DAIRY WORKERS
DANCERS
DEAF PEOPLE
DENTISTS
DIFFICULT CHOICES
DIFFICULT MARRIAGES
DISABLED PEOPLE
DOCTORS
DOGS
DOMESTIC WORKERS
DROWNING VICTIMS
EARTHQUAKES
ECOLOGISTS
ELDERLY
EMBROIDERERS
ENTERTAINERS
ENVIRONMENTALISTS
EXPECTANT MOTHERS
EXPLOSIVES WORKERS
FALLING
THE FALSELY ACCUSED
FARMERS
FATHERS
FIREFIGHTERS
FISHERMEN
FLIGHT ATTENDANTS
FLOODS
FLORENTINE CHEESE WORKERS
FLORISTS
FOREIGN MISSIONS
FUNERAL DIRECTORS
GAMBLERS
GARDENERS
GEESE
GIRL SCOUTS
GIRLS
GOLDSMITHS
GRAVEDIGGERS
GUARDS
GUNNERS
HAIR STYLISTS
HAPPY MARRIAGES
HEADACHE SUFFERERS
HEMORRHOID SUFFERERS
HOARSENESS
THE HOMELESS
HOPELESS CASES
HORSES
HOSPITALS
HOUSE HUNTERS
HOUSEWIVES
HOUSEKEEPERS
HUNTERS
ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN
IMMIGRANTS
INCEST VICTIMS
INNOCENT PEOPLE
THE INTERNET
INVALIDS
JOURNALISTS
JUDGES
JUVENILE DELINQUENTS
KNIGHTS
LACEMAKERS
LAWYERS
LEATHERWORKERS
LIBRARIANS
LOST CAUSES
LOST ITEMS
LOVERS
MAIDS
MENTALLY HANDICAPPED PEOPLE
MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE
MIDWIVES
MINERS
MISSIONARIES
MOTHERS
MOTORISTS
MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
MUSICIANS
MYSTICS
NATIVE AMERICANS
NAVAL OFFICERS
NEEDLEWORKERS
NURSES
NURSING MOTHERS
ORPHANS
OVERSLEEPING
PAINTERS
PALLBEARERS
PARAMEDICS
PARATROOPERS
PAWNBROKERS
PEOPLE IN DANGER OF SUDDEN DEATH
PEOPLE OF MIXED RACE
PHARMACISTS
PHYSICIANS
POETS
POLITICIANS
POLICE OFFICERS
POOR PEOPLE
POSTAL WORKERS
PREACHERS
PREGNANT WOMEN
PRINTERS
PRISONERS
PUBLISHERS
RADIO
REJECTS
RESTAURANTS
RIDERS
RIGHT-TO-LIFE GROUPS
RUNAWAYS
SADDLEMAKERS
SAILORS
SCHOLARS
SCIENTISTS
SENIOR CITIZENS
SERIAL KILLERS
SERVANTS
SEXUAL TEMPTATION
SHEPHERDS
SHOEMAKERS
SICK PEOPLE
SINGERS
SINGLE WOMEN
SKIERS
SOLDIERS
STAMP COLLECTORS
STONEMASONS
SURGEONS
SWIMMERS
TAILORS
TANNERS
TAX COLLECTORS
TAXI DRIVERS
TEACHERS
TEENAGERS
TELEPHONES
TELEVISION
THIEVES
TOOTHACHE SUFFERERS
TRAVELERS
UGLY PEOPLE
UNBORN CHILDREN
UNDERTAKERS
UNMARRIED WOMEN
VENEREAL DISEASE SUFFERERS
VEGETARIANS
VETERINARIANS
VIRGINS
VOLUNTEERS
WAITERS & WAITRESSES
WHEELWRIGHTS
WIDOWS
WINERIES
WRITERS
YOUTH
 
Chapter 5 - The Canonization Process
 
CANONIZATION: THE EARLY YEARS
CANONIZATION: THE MIDDLE YEARS
 
Chapter 6 - Sts. Flotsam and Jetsam
 
Nine Saints with Nicknames That Sound like They Could Have Belonged to ...
One Saint with a Nickname That Really Sounds like It Could Have Belonged to a ...
Nine Saints and One Almost-Saint Who Practiced Mortification of the Flesh
Five Saints with Particularly Disturbing Icons and/or Other Artistic Representations
Six Herbs, Medical Conditions, and/or Weather-Related Phenomena Named After Saints
Three Saints with Disconcerting Dual Patronages
Eight Saints with Brutally Ironic Patronages
Eight Shrines Beginning with “Our Lady” and Ending with Unexpectedly Compelling ...
One Miraculous Story Involving the Growth of Facial Hair on a Female Saint
Five Combinations of Saints’ Names with the Word Sweet, Which Make Useful ...
Eight Saints Who Were Hard to Martyr
One Hilarious Poo-Related Statement Attributed to a Saint
Ten Saints Who Were Kind to Animals
Six Saints with Ridiculously Dull Names
Twenty Occupations or Situations Which Don’t Yet Have a Patron Saint, but Need One
Seven Well-Known “Ser vants of God” Whose Canonizations Are Still in Process
Three Saints Whose Relics Ooze Oil (or So They Say)
One Saint Whose Tomb Emits a Powdery White Substance (or So They Say)
Eight Saints Whose Bodies Are Famously Incorrupt
The First and Last Saints, Alphabetically, as Recognized by the Roman Catholic Church
Thirteen One-Named Saints Whose Names Contain Eleven or More Letters
Six Single-Named Saints Whose Names Contain Only Three Letters
One Single-Named Saint Whose Name Contains Only Two Letters
Thirteen Personal Goods a Monk May Possess, According to the Rule of St. Benedict
Nine Saints Who Levitated
Six Superhero-Like Abilities Claimed by Saints but Not Related to Levitation
Thirty Cities, Towns, Countries, or Nations Not Creative Enough to Pick Someone ...
Twelve Feast Days Associated with the Virgin Mary
Eight Confirmed, Church-Approved Appearances of the Virgin Mary
Sixteen Reasonable Assumptions That Can Be Made About the Blessed Virgin Mary, ...
Fifteen Dead People Who Aren’t Saints but Probably Could Be, If Only They Were Catholic
Four Living People Who Aren’t Saints but Might as Well Be, Catholic or Not
Eight Categories of People Most Likely to Become a Saint
Eight Categories of People Least Likely to Become a Saint
 
Selected Bibliography
The Author

PRAISE FOR POCKET GUIDE TO SAINTHOOD
“Hewing to his trademark theology-by-way-of-Jon-Stewart
model, Jason Boyett’s hilarious, fact-packed
collection of Pocket Guides refresh the maxim, if you’re
not careful, you might just learn something. Anyone
with a curiosity about history and belief—and an ear for
wry irreverence—should not miss out on these pithy,
delightful volumes.”
—Lauren Sandler, author, Righteous:
Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement
 
“Here’s a writer with insight like a finger in the eye, but
you later want to thank him for that finger in the eye.
If there were a Pocket Guide to Jason Boyett, it would
include words like Fearless, Deep, and Snarky. And did I
mention funny? Oh my goodness this guy is funny.”
—Dean Nelson, author, God Hides in Plain Sight, and
director,Writer’s Symposium by the Sea at Point Loma
 
“Irreverent, illuminating, and packed with thousands
more twenty-first-century pop-culture references than
the Bible, the Qur’an, and the Bhagavad Gītā combined.
Boyett’s Pocket Guide series is a one-stop religion degree
without the annoyances of financial aid payments or the
medieval club.”
—Robert Lanham, author, The Hipster
Handbook
and The Sinner’s Guide to the Evangelical Right
 
“The Pocket Guides are more fun than a plague of frogs,
more satisfying than manna from heaven and way less
expensive than attending seminary. Pocket Guide to the
Bible, to Sainthood and to the Afterlife achieve the remarkable
feat of being absurdly funny, surprisingly full of
legitimate Biblical information and, inexplicably, provoking
a deeper understanding of my faith. Jason Boyett is a
truly inspired and disturbed individual and for that I am
grateful.”
—Dan Merchant, writer/producer/director of
Lord, Save Us from Your Followers
 
“Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guides are smart and hilarious.
And they’re sneaky too:You don’t realize how much
you’re learning because you’re having so much fun.”
—AJ Jacobs, author, The Year of Living Biblically
 
“Boyett’s witty, weird, and sometimes even wise Pocket
Guides are proof that the best things do come in small
packages. Besides, Jesus could return at any minute. Do
you really want to start reading some big, long book?”
—Daniel Radosh, author, Rapture Ready! Adventures in the
Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture

Other Books by Jason Boyett
Pocket Guide to the Bible
Pocket Guide to the Afterlife
Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse

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Introduction
At various times on eBay, sellers have opened auctions on collectible items related to particular saints. Over the past few months you could have bid on a medallion supposedly touched by Elizabeth Anne Seton, the first native-born American to attain sainthood.You could have won a glass locket containing an authentic piece of Pope Leo XIII’s collar or four strands of St. John Bosco’s hair (“a rare first-class relic”).You could even purchase a piece of cloth (with gift box!) that touched a true relic of St. Dymphna. Yes, apparently there’s a decent market for scraps of fabric that may have once come into contact with a theoretical relic belonging to a seventh-century Irish saint who may or may not have ever existed.
People, it seems, are fascinated by the saints.We name our cities, hospitals, and churches after them.We wear medals with their pictures on them.We pray to them when we need help with something.We purchase pocket-sized books about them.1
Why? Maybe it’s because some of them seemed to have been a lot like us. St. Crispin was a humble shoemaker in third-century Rome. St. Zita was just a poor housekeeper in thirteenth-century Italy. St. Bernadette was just a teenage girl strolling through a forest near Lourdes, France, in 1858, until the Blessed Virgin Mary showed up, resulting in a shrine now visited by five million Catholics every year.There have been male saints and female saints, impoverished saints and royal saints, saints of noteworthy intelligence and saints of hardly any intelligence at all (St. Joseph of Cupertino). Some saints were holy from a young age. Others didn’t even convert to Christianity until adulthood. Sure, a few of them were crazy-eyed mystics living naked in the desert (St. Mary of Egypt), but many saints were well-adjusted members of society, with responsibilities and families and quiet, productive lives. And while the majority of saints have been of European origin, there are also saints with Asian, African, and even multiracial backgrounds (St. Martin de Porres).
On the other hand, maybe we love the saints because they’re so not like us.Who among us, after all, has ever been beheaded, only to pick up our severed head, walk a couple miles down the road, and deliver a well-composed sermon (St. Denis)? Who among us has rescued a damsel from a dragon (St. George) or carried the Baby Jesus across a river (St. Christopher)? Indeed, who among us has helped prostitutes find meaningful work by instructing them in the lacemaking trade (St. John Francis Regis)?
Today, our spiritual leaders don’t generally get martyred in horrific ways, or perform miraculous healings, or bleed mystically from the hands and feet, or tame wild beasts, or whip themselves bloody, or care for lepers on the streets of Calcutta, or levitate during mass. No, compared to the saints, religious people in the twenty-first century are pretty normal—even the ones on those weird Christian television networks.2
Nevertheless, we are intrigued by the saints.Whether we’re Catholics desperately needing a patron or Protestants trying to identify their cabbie’s bobblehead (probably St. Fiacre), we could all use a little more information about these holy people. As long as that information is not too boring. Because the saints were a lot of things, but they were never boring.
So let us turn our attention to the subject of sainthood. Let us consider the saints of Christian history. After all, they inspire us to be better people.They motivate us to do greater things. And they let us know, once and for all, that it’s entirely possible to sail across the Irish Sea on a leaf (St. Ia).

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1
There Should Have Been a St. Webster
(A Glossary of Terms)
 
 
When it comes to generalized information, people are pretty familiar with the saints of Christian history. St. Francis? The guy with the birds. St. Anthony of Padua? The one you dial up when you lose your wallet. St. Florian? Patron saint of soap-boilers. Pretty basic stuff.
But when it comes to the specifics of sainthood—the nitty-gritty details of the saints’ lives and teachings and devotional peculiarities—well, things can get confusing in a holy jiffy.What’s the difference between a Dominican and a Franciscan? Is beatification a good thing? Isn’t a Carmelite one of those crunchy little candy treats you mix into ice cream?
Good questions. Clearly, sainthood is a complicated subject, saturated with cryptic terms and churchy phrases and old-fashioned words that, let’s face it, probably contain way more letters than are necessary to get the point across (concupiscense, the Pocket Guide is totally on to you). Sure, the guys wearing the vestments probably know what it all means, but what about the regular folks? What about the common, mass-attending, rosary-praying Catholics? For the love of Little Benedict the Bridge-Builder,3 what about those poor, sad Protestants who don’t know a mendicant from a mystic?
The Pocket Guide is here to help.To minimize confusion and maximize your reading pleasure, this book kicks off with a handy glossary of saint-related terms.These are the words and phrases you need to know to fully appreciate the pages to come. So button up those hair shirts, kids, and let’s get pious!

ANCHORITE

A special kind of hermit who dedicated himself or herself (in which case she was called an anchoress) to a life of solitude, prayer, and asceticism. But instead of living in caves or the desert, anchorites preferred cozier confines: they walled themselves into a wee little room attached to a local church. Once the cell was ready, the anchorite would enter it in a somber ceremony—somber does seem like an accurate way to describe it—and the local bishop would then permanently brick up the door, sealing the man or woman inside. Afterwards, the anchorite’s only exposure to the outside world would be through a small window for the passage of food and water.
The renowned fourteenth-century devotional writer, Julian of Norwich, was an anchoress. She was also quite pasty.
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE OR TWO: Known for their great spirituality and wisdom, anchorites often dispensed advice through their tiny windows. Because if there’s anyone who ought to be telling you how to get along in the world, it’s someone who has willingly reduced their world to a closet.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Hermits, otherwise known as free-range anchorites.
FUN RELATED FACT
The Ancren Riwle, a thirteenth-century manual for anchoresses, lists eight reasons to retire from the world. These include everything from security issues (“If a raging lion were running along the street, would not a wise person shut herself in?”)4 to protecting one’s virginity (“. . . this precious balsam in this brittle vessel is virginity . . . more brittle than any glass; which, if ye were in the world’s crowd, ye might . . . lose entirely”).5 It’s quite convincing.
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ASCETIC

A religious person who voluntarily gives up worldly pursuits out of spiritual motives. By the third and fourth centuries, a few countercultural Christians started thinking the whole following-Jesus thing had become too easy, especially in the cities, so they abandoned modern conveniences and started hanging out in the deserts of Egypt and Palestine.These hermits generally combined self-denial—in the form of sexual abstinence, fasting, and avoidance of any of life’s comforts—with intense prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. It was spectacular! Out in the desert, they were no longer tempted by societal evils like companionship or the lack of sand. Nope. It was just them and God. And scorpions. And, um, all the other hermits, because asceticism got really popular. Eventually, all the ascetics organized into clubs and monasticism was born.
See also: Hermit.
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: When Chip stopped wearing his Bluetooth headset I thought he was becoming all ascetic and stuff, but it turns out he just had an ear infection.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Aesthetics. Because you totally don’t want a third-century hermit lecturing you on the feng shui of your living-room furniture.
FUN RELATED FACT
The sixth-century ascetic St. Emiliana spent so much time kneeling in prayer that her calloused elbows and knees were said to have felt as hard as “the hide of a camel.”6
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BEATIFICATION

The next-to-last step in the process of getting that coveted “St.” in front of your name. Beatification is something the pope does to officially recognize that a certain person (1) is dead, (2) has gotten into heaven, and (3) gets to participate in the intercession of saints—that is, the beatified dead person is allowed to use his or her heavenly clout to ask God for stuff on behalf of those of us who aren’t dead yet. Or holy enough. Or a combination thereof. (See Communion of Saints.)
According to Canon Law, beatification isn’t allowed until the saint-to-be is credited with at least one miracle, which means someone praying in the person’s name or visiting the person’s grave or riding in a taxi with the person’s bobblehead on the dash has to get healed or experience something that is spiritually significant and unexplainable.This condition doesn’t apply, however, if the saint-to-be died a martyr. Martyrdom requires no miracle at all. On the road to canonization, martyrdom is the HOV lane.
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE OR TWO: Pope John Paul II was a beatification machine, giving that honor to 1,340 people during his reign.Which is one way to make sure your “Welcome to Heaven” party is well-attended.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Beatty-fication, which is the process of adding a Beatty (preferably Warren, though Ned will do in a pinch) to one’s motion picture in order to increase its box-office appeal.Though a popular term in the ’80s and early ’90s, Beatty-fication is hardly remembered, much less practiced, in today’s cinema culture.

BENEDICTINE

A member of the religious order founded by St. Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century. Benedictines live according to the Rule of St. Benedict, a highly influential document detailing the ins and outs of monastic life. How influential was it? Until the eleventh century, almost all monks and nuns were Benedictines, until a few competing orders like the Carmelites, Dominicans, and Franciscans began to crop up. Life as a Benedictine was devoted to prayer, scholarship, and charity, and members were required to take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Until the late nineteenth century, Benedictine communities were independent of each other. Now they’re organized into a confederation called the Order of Saint Benedict, and Benedictines identify themselves by placing the initials O.S.B. after their names.They take great care not to transpose those letters, as it can have disastrous (yet hilarious) results.
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: Kenny was fully prepared to take his Benedictine vow until he got to the part about living at St. Meinrad until death, and he wasn’t sure he could do without World of Warcraft for that long.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Benediction, a short blessing or prayer at the end of a church service.You might think the word is related to St. Benedict, but it’s not. Both the word and the name come from the Latin words bene (well) and dicere (to speak). And, for the record, the decadent breakfast dish Eggs Benedict isn’t named after the saint either. Its nomenclature comes from the last name of the person who first developed the recipe, probably in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries.7

CANON LAW

The extensive legal system of the Roman Catholic Church, complete with courts, judges, lawyers, and dusty rooms full of thick, ancient books. It involves a lot of different categories of rules, which include (but aren’t limited to) regulations pertaining to Church authorities, the rights and duties of Church members, and the step-by-step process of attaining sainthood. In the mid-thirteenth century, the Church realized its collection of laws was becoming unwieldy, so authorities set about the task of organizing them into a final document.This process was completed nearly six hundred years later, in 1917, with the publication of Codex Juris Canonici (“Code of Canon Law”). Apparently some deadlines were missed.
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: When the professor began his lecture with the phrase, “In accordance with canon 361.5 of the Code of Canon Law . . .” at least four students plunged immediately into a catatonic state.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Jude Law. While a recognized authority on certain matters involving movie stardom, Academy Award nominations, and relationships with beautiful women, Mr. Law carries very little clout, if any, within the Vatican’s judicial system.

CANONIZATION

The formal process by which a regular person with a pious résumé morphs into a full-fledged saint.The upside? You get added to the long list (or “canon”) of official saints, and you get special influence when it comes to bringing prayers to the throne of God. The downside? People won’t leave your gravesite alone.
The canonization process (detailed exhaustively in Chapter 5) culminates in a decision by the pope, who has the final authority to declare someone a saint. It should be noted, of course, that canonization doesn’t exactly make a person a saint. It only recognizes the fact that someone was already a saint.Which means there are some pre-canonization saints just walking around and going to church and shopping at Home Depot—and they don’t even know how special they are! It’s all very optimistic and up-with-people-ish. Except for the part about Home Depot.
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: Ever the scrapbooker, Darla spent most of the last decade preparing a binder in bold anticipation of her own canonization, complete with church attendance records, photographic demonstrations of heroic virtues, and blood samples from what she claimed was a case of stigmata but what was really a case of carelessness while slicing a bagel.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Ionization, the process of changing a molecule into an ion by adding or subtracting electrons. Ionization is totally different from the sainthood thing because it actually transforms an atom into an ion rather than just lamely recognizing that it’s already an ion. Or, you know, whatever.

CARMELITE

A member of the religious order founded in the twelfth century on Mount Carmel in Israel. Its founder may have been St. Bertold, a former Crusader who got disillusioned with crusading after he had a vision in which Jesus was less than delighted by all the forced conversions. But Bertold’s connection to the order’s founding is only traditional. When asked about their founder, early Carmelites would attribute the order’s origins to Elijah or the Virgin Mary, which was so not very helpful. Even today, no one really knows where the Carmelites came from. Except Jesus, and apparently he has declined comment.
Officially, the Carmelite order is known as the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Its monks and nuns are strongly devoted to Mary and focus on contemplative (and occasionally mystical) prayer. Back in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, there were a succession of reforms among Carmelite communities that involved a level of piety tied very closely to whether its nuns or monks could wear shoes. Calced Carmelites wore shoes. Discalced Carmelites went barefoot.The turf wars were brutal.8
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: People grew less convinced about Jessica’s desire to become a Carmelite nun when she revealed that the discalced Carmelites were her preference because she loved pedicures, and that kind of life required a lot of them.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Carmel-by-the-Sea, a California community of writers, poets, and painters, where you’ll find plenty of people walking around barefoot and having visions. But rarely is Jesus involved.

CHASTITY

Most commonly, the abstention from sex and the pursuit of purity for religious reasons, or as part of a religious vow. Chastity is one of the Seven Holy Virtues in Catholicism, along with temperance, charity, diligence, kindness, patience, and humility.
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: In what was either an act of unbridled optimism or a sad commentary on her vocabulary skills, teenage mom Heather gave her newborn daughter—her third child since making that virginity pledge as a fourteen-year-old at youth camp—the name Chastity.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Chastity belt, the intricate, locked medieval device intended to prevent medieval hanky-panky. It was discovered to be much more effective than simply naming a girl Chastity.
FUN RELATED FACT
In the seventh century, St. Bertilia married the love of her life. Then she and her groom took vows of chastity and remained virgins until they died. True love waits. And waits.
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CISTERCIAN

A member of the religious order originally founded in 1098 by St. Robert of Molesme at Cîteaux Abbey9 in France.The Cistercians grew out of the Benedictine tradition but were based on a movement to return to the original monastic austerity of St. Benedict—as opposed to, say, the opulent worldliness of eleventh-century Benedictine abbeys, what with their wild manuscript-copying parties and decadent stained-glass-making. Cistercians tried to reproduce life as Benedict would have known it, so they became super ascetic, returned to an emphasis on manual labor in the form of farming and fieldwork, and added a strict observance of silence to the requirements for membership.
The Cistercian order spread wildly in the twelfth century due to the influence of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, which is why Cistercians were sometimes called Bernardines.These days, thanks to some seventeenth-century reforms related to the French abbey of La Trappe, Cistercians are more popularly known by the nickname Trappists. So you can pretty much call them whatever you want, as long as it’s not “Benedictines.”
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: A lazy, talkative person would likely make a poor Cistercian.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Benedictines. Pay attention.
FUN RELATED FACT
Due to all the farming, Cistercians were widely recognized as the go-to agriculturists, cattle breeders, and hydrological engineers of the Middle Ages.
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COMMUNION OF SAINTS

The all-encompassing fellowship of believers in heaven (including canonized saints and plain-jane citizens of glory), on earth, and even in purgatory, bound together as a single body by the glue of the Holy Spirit.10 The phrase “communion of saints” is most famously included in the Apostle’s Creed, which is often recited in the liturgy or catechism of Christian churches.
Belief in the communion of saints led to the Catholic practice of offering prayers to saints—usually a patron saint—who might then intercede on one’s behalf before God. Because who is God more likely to listen to? One of his dead-but-purified saints living in a heavenly mansion and sporting a sweet golden halo? Or some living-but-sin-stained waitress shacked up in a trailer park and wearing sweatpants and a Black Crowes tee?
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: I used to believe in the communion of saints until I asked St. Bona of Pisa to get me that flight attendant’s job, and she totally forgot to warn me about the psychological testing.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Communion (1989), a UFOABDUCTION film starring Christopher Walken, in which the aliens are discovered to be friendly.11 But not so friendly as to help Walken out by asking God for stuff on his behalf.

CONCUPISCENCE

In theology, the innate appetite of humans for things contrary to the will of God; the inclination toward sin and evil. It is often used with a sexual connotation, especially when someone wants to use a really long, impressive-sounding, four-syllable word instead of, for instance, just saying lust. Regardless, concupiscence was a good reason for saints to flagellate themselves in an act of mortification.
PLEASE USE IT IN A SENTENCE: Back in the day, Catholic theologians used to fight with reformers like Martin Luther about the true meaning of concupiscence, but it was sort of a dorky fight.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Concubine,