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special lives century status

The term saint comes from the Latin sanctus (“holy”) and was initially used in the early Christian period to refer to all faithful members of the Christian church. During the periods of persecution however, the special status of those who suffered *death (martyrdom) for their faith resulted in increasing specification of saintly categories. The MARTYRS (from Greek: martus , “witness”) were early venerated and tales of their lives, tortures, and deaths formed materials for myriad literary and artistic productions through the Middle Ages. Others who suffered but survived were classified by the third century as CONFESSORS and those who adopted an ascetic life or otherwise renounced certain worldly concerns (e.g., HERMITS and VIRGINS ) were afforded special status by the early fourth century. The ranks of saints continued to grow through the medieval period; prayers offered to saints were believed to be particularly efficacious, and the accounts of *miracles performed at saints’ shrines were popularized in art and literature. Particular saints were chosen by groups or individuals as “patrons” or protectors, often because of their previous vocation or some special episode in their lives. By the late twelfth century, papal authorization was officially required for a person to be declared a saint, a process known as nonization. The study and composition of works concerning saints is known as hagiography. Saints’ tales were recorded and often illustrated in a number of different formats . Individual saints are frequently recognizable by their iconographic attributes, which are often objects or *animals pertaining in some unique way to their lives or deaths. In general, saints are represented with *haloes; martyrs frequently hold palm branches, and other symbols of holy or heavenly status may include crowns, books, chalices, and scrolls.

[back] Saha, Meghnad

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