Are saint canonizations reliable?


For example, St. Athanasius was canonized because he was a brilliant theologian, however, it’s doubtful if he’s in Heaven since some of the things he did were… quite evil.

Many of the canonizations are obvious (Mary, Peter, Francis of Assisi, etc.) Then again, there are thousands of saints whom we really know nothing about. So are they at all reliable?


People who do bad things often repent. That’s what makes a person a Saint. It’s not that you never fall, it’s that you get back up when you do.

Saints were not always canonized, but those who were fall under Church infallibility.


Saints were not always canonized, but those who were fall under Church infallibility.

Really? What about the saints that were proven not to exist, or saints who were canonized based on events proven to have not happened?


If the Pope canonizes a saint then it is an infalible declaration that that person is in heaven. No matter what they did in their lives or if any of the miracles that said happened in their name didn’t really happen.


Good Question.

I’d say that doing things that are “quite evil” is an almost universal human failing. It’s where we end up, rather than where we’ve been that counts.

How sure are we of “the process” of Canonization? Especially with the saints we know so little about? I’m going to go with the charitable option of believing that the Holy Spirit has moved us in the right direction when we make these decisions.


Two different things. No canonized saint has ever been “proven not to exist” or been canonized “based on events proven not to have happened.” That’s a common misconception. Folk saints, called “saints” colloquially but never canonized, have been challenged — not any saints canonized by the Church.


Did you mean St. Athanasiu, Archbishop of Alexandria - doctor of the Church?


There wasn’t a process of cannonization for saints we know “so little about”. Ever since there has been the process, there has been a thorough review of the person’s life, writings etc.

Before there was a process of cannonization, however, holy men and women sometimes became saints by public acclimation. I don’t think these carry the same infallible surety as the ones where the cannonization process was followed. But I might be wrong :smiley:

I have never heard of a saint that was “proven not to exist”. :confused: Do you have an example?


What “quite evil” things did St. Athanasius do? Allegations like these require proof. Oh, I can think of a few more saints who’ve done rather despicable deeds, but St. Athanasius? Details, please.

Other than that, we have no authority to say whose salvation is “doubtful.”


Well, I’m not a history expert, but from my understanding, the claims here are pretty accurate:


Any lawyer worth his salt would know that a man is innocent until proven guilty. The article, unreliable as it is (it’s Wikipedia after all), says that the charges did not stick. Athanasius had many enemies, especially among the Arians. The Arians were capable of their own brand of slander. None of the charges were proven. Besides, this is hardly a matter of scholarly consensus; the only authors Wikipedia cites in this matter (and passes off as fact) are Barnes (1981) and Rubenstein (1999). Since you admit you’re not a history expert, you would have been obligated to seek out multiple sources instead of a Wikipedia article before branding a saint as evil.

If you wanted to pick on a saint, you would have had better chances with St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Jerome, or even St. Augustine. Cyril is especially noteworthy for having some indirect responsibility for the violent death of the renowned pagan teacher Hypatia at Christian hands.

You picked the wrong saint to attack.


I don’t want to burst your bubble, but wikipedia is not a reliable source for historical research. anybody can fabricate and post anything they like on this site. Until you can come up with something credible, please don’t trash the dead.


That one section cites over ten separate sources.


I think it actually references the same two sources 10 times.


hey don’t diss Saint Guinefort! :slight_smile:


Yep, this is what fundamentalist take issue with…The thought that your Pope can by declaration place someone in heaven, if this is true it sounds very blasphemous to me.


He doesn’t place them there, but declares them to be there. God places them there. The Pope simply confirms this fact.


I had heard that through the years the church has used sainthood as a political payoff. But it could be hearsay


You might be thinking of bishoprics or something like that – positions awarded to the living. Since only a dead person can be canonized, it’s hard to see someone benefitting politically from their own canonization.


It is hearsay. Notice that in times where this sounds like it would be probable, it is the (authentic) reformers who spoke out against the corruption who are canonized while the worldly individuals are not.

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