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Saints in Anglicanism

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In a Catholic sense the term "saint" refers to any person in Heaven—however, since the 10th century, the title "Saint" is only given to persons who have been officially recognized by the Church. In the days when the Church of England was in union with Rome, recognition was in the form of canonization. Those martyrs and confessors given the title traditionally, prior to the establishment of the canonization process or since the break with Rome, are generally still considered both "saints" and "Saints."[1] The title "Hero" is sometimes used as well, more often to refer to those Saints who have lived and died since the time of the Reformation.

The provinces of the Anglican Communion commemorate many of the same saints as those in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, often on the same days. In some cases, the Anglican Calendars have retained traditional feasts that the Roman Catholic Church has abolished or moved.

Early Christianity

Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion has special holy days in honor 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 the United Kingdom: Saint George (Patron of England), Saint David (Patron of Wales), Saint Patrick (Patron of Ireland), and Saint Andrew (Patron of 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, the last of whom King Henry VIII had executed by strangulation in Belgium for his Protestant views, for beginning the translation of the Bible from the original languages (a project which led to the Geneva Bible and Authorised Version), and for publishing a number of theological works decrying the many heresies that had been adopted in the church of Rome.

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

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:

  • In the case of scriptural saints, care should be taken to commemorate men or women in terms which are in strict accord with the facts made known in Holy Scripture.
  • In the case of other names, the Calendar should be limited to those whose historical character and devotion are beyond doubt.
  • In the choice of new names economy should be observed and controversial names should not be inserted until they can be seen in the perspective of history.
  • The addition of a new name should normally result from a wide-spread desire expressed in the region concerned over a reasonable period of time.[3]

Modern Anglican Saints

The following have been identified as heroes of the Christian Church in the Anglican Communion:

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. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 

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