As part of some work I’m doing that will become bloggable material shortly, I want to lay down some basic principles on how I intend to go about tallying up saints.
To back up a step, one of the principles governing current sanctoral kalendars is the notion of adequate representation. The worldwide Christian Church (ecclesial fragmentations aside) has generated saints (however we choose to define that and that’s a big ol’ argument for another post) of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, whatever. Since the late 20th century, there’s been a push to ensure that this real diversity at least has a presence in our kalendars. Indeed, in the Episcopal Church, this principle is officially designated as criterion 5 of HWHM which states:
5. Range of Inclusion: Particular attention should be paid to Episcopalians and other members of the Anglican Communion. Attention should also be paid to gender and race, to the inclusion of lay people (witnessing in this way to our baptismal understanding of the Church), and to ecumenical
representation. In this way the Calendar will reflect the reality of our time: that instant communication and extensive travel are leading to an ever deeper international and ecumenical consciousness among Christian people.
If we are mandated to pay attention to these things, then we need some basic ground rules on how to do it. Here are mine…
Commemorations should be counted as kalendar entries. Named individuals need to be tallied separately when available with suitable designations for capturing uncertain numbers and unquantifiable mass categories. Thus:
- July 20th in HWHM (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1902; Amelia Bloomer, 1894; Sojourner Truth, 1883; and Harriet Ross Tubman, 1913, Liberators and Prophets) counts as 1 commemoration that honors 4 named individuals and should also be tallied as 4 women.
- September 2nd in the BCP (The Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942) counts as 1 commemoration of an unquantifiable group. (Or—to be truly pedantic about it—the number is potentially quantifiable but is not actually quantified by the entry in the kalendar). Due to the unquantifiability of the entry, gender numbers cannot be forthcoming.
- March 7th in the BCP (Perpetua and her Companions, Martyrs at Carthage, 202) counts as 1 commemoration consisting of 1 named individual (a woman) and an unspecified number of companions. Even though Felicitas is one of Perpetua’s well-known companions, she can’t be tallied due to her absence from the entry.
- Feasts of Our Lord: I’ve tallied these as events. However, as Our Lord became incarnate as a male, I’m going back and forth on this one. To be consistent, I suppose I should count these as both events and as 1 named (male) individual.
- Exaltation of the Cross: This is a commemoration but not of a person (or even an event). It counts as a commemoration but not a gendered named individual.
- Angels: Church tradition regards angels as male—certainly naming conventions (Michael, Raphael, etc.) do—so without going into the question of the gender of angels, these will be tallied as male.
This one is fairly straight-forward, but is complicated by a few marginal cases. I take this to mean not just whether a person has been ordained but whether they are officially recognized as an authority figure in whatever ecclesial body they happen to be part of. Thus, even lay monastics (like Benedict) should be recognized as not being “laity” in the strictest sense. The categories I’m using are “bishop,” “priest” (read broadly as recognized presbyters), “deacon,” “religious,” “lay person.”
Questionable cases would include:
- Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Mashonaland, 1896: What should be done with “Catechist”? As far as I know it’s not an ordained position, so despite it being an ecclesial recognition, I’m going with “lay.”
- Lillian Trasher, Missionary in Egypt, 1961: Lillian was the preacher and leader of her Pentecostal church before heading off to Egypt to do her missionary work. She goes in the “priest” column.
- Charlotte Diggs (Lottie) Moon, Missionary in China, 1912: A school builder and evangelist, she was Southern Baptist. The church did appoint her as a missionary but (obviously) didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t recognize her as ordained so she goes in the “lay” column.
- Apostles: Following church tradition, I’ve tallied these as bishops.
- Feasts of Our Lord: On one hand, OLASJC is our great high priest; on the other, marking these feasts as commemorating a “bishop” seems like it would skew the data oddly and not address what the criterion is concerned about. I’m currently thinking that feasts that name Jesus would be left blank for ordination, but that those naming the BVM and John the Baptizer would be tallied for one “laity.”
- Angels: I’m leaving this one blank for angels.
I’m not going to tackle this one at the moment. Using the census labels for race is the obvious place to start, but some of our figures from Late Antiquity are complicated. What was the racial make-up of Roman North Africa? Augustine, Cyprian, and Athanasius are big question marks in my book. What do we use for acceptable evidence? Is it proper to say “Africa=Black”? Given the Copts I know, that doesn’t work very well. How do we address the racial make-up of the Levant? Based on the blunt instrument of the census questions do we say “Syro-Palestine=White” (cue images of the blonde BVM…)?
Certainly when we are speaking of the modern world this becomes a less fraught question, but not simple either. How do we properly chart the racial component of “James Hannington, Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, and his Companions, Martyrs, 1885”? Following the principles above for named individuals, I’d have to tally 1 white guy.
So, while recognizing this one as important, I may identify some clear-cut cases and dodge the issue until some clarity emerges…
Again, this one should be fairly clear-cut for most but there are obvious questionable cases. Newman, Chesterton, and Seton are on the short-list of problematic folk—while they ended up as Roman Catholics, some of their key formation and work occurred while they were Anglicans. In the interests of simplicity, this will probably be wherever they ended their lives—meaning that the Wesleys will be recorded as Anglican.
I do plan on identifying everyone pre-Schism as “Great Church”, then pulling out “Western Catholic;” “Roman Catholic” will be a post-Reformation designation.
No system is perfect but these guidelines should reflect a pretty common-sense approach to how things are tabulated. Thus, the key principle is that named people are the ones who get tallied and categorized for diversity purposes. The entries about which there are quibbles should be fairly small.