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15th Century Catholics: Saints they ain’t
Posted By Eric Sammons On September 16, 2009 @ 5:00 am In Geekiness,Saints | Comments Disabled
This year I am going to be teaching one of my children a history of the Church through the lives of the saints. I’m picking two or three saints from each century since the Church was founded to represent how men and women throughout the years have best followed Christ in their time and culture. I have found this Wikipedia page  of extreme help. It lists all the saints in chronological order, divided by century.
A few (admittedly trivial) statistics I gathered:
I find it interesting that the 15th century has the least number of canonized saints, for the division of Western Christendom immediately followed it in the 16th century. Would so many souls have decided to leave the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation if they had more examples of saints living within the Church during the 15th century?
The 4th century gets the distinction as the “most holy” century with 531 canonized saints. Two distinctive events of that century produced this large number of saints: the persecution of Diocletian at the beginning of the century led to numerous martyr-saints, and the later legalization of Christianity brought internal debates into the open, creating a need for great theologians like Athanasius, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen to defend the faith against powerful heresies.
For the really geeky out there (like me), here is a chart showing the number of canonized saints by century:
My own favorite “saint centuries” are the 1st (of course), 4th, 13th (can’t beat Francis, Clare, Dominic and Thomas Aquinas), and 20th. If you have a favorite “saint century,” feel free to leave it in the comments.
Update: A number of people have commented on the fact that these numbers don’t really reflect the exact number of saints through the centuries (either due to Wikipedia’s unreliability or the anonymity of many saints or all the machinations that are involved in getting someone officially canonized). This is true. The above information is not intended to be scholarly, but instead just a fun look at canonized saints through the ages. We can be very thankful that heaven is full of a large number of saints unknown to us who constantly intercede on our behalf.
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