“joyfully thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light”
Colossians 12 – 13
When I joined the Anglican faith, I discovered that saints play still a role in the doctrine. Not as in the Roman Catholic faith (by canonisation), not as in the Dutch Protestant church, that does not recognise saints anyway, but as in their own Anglican via media. Resolutions from 1958 Lambeth Conference:
The Conference holds that the purpose of a Calendar is to increase our thankfulness to God and to strengthen our faith by recalling regularly the great truths of the Gospel, the principal events in the life of our Lord, and the lives and examples of men and women who have borne pre-eminent witness to the power of the Holy Spirit, and are with us in the communion of saints.
And resolution 78:
The Conference is of the opinion that the following principles should guide the selection of saints and heroes for commemoration:
(a) 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.
(b) In the case of other names, the Kalendar should be limited to those whose historical character and devotion are beyond doubt.
(c) 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.
(d) 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.
This intrigued me so I decided to look up some of the saints, mostly plain curious to get to know what they had done to become saints. But then I realised that we, as Christians, are all of us supposed to be saints, (see for example Exodus 19:5–6; 1 Peter 2, 9; 1 Corinthians 4:1; so what made these Christians so extraordinary that they deserved a place in the Church Calendar?
So, I went on a search of what the saints on the Anglican calendar of the Church of England had done in their lives that they would be chosen by acclamation of the common people (see point d) of the Resolution) and that they could still inspire us today.
That search ranged from 200 CE to the Second World War, from Africa to India to Russia, from saints of different denominations (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor; Max Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan friar for example, which is the reason I put up Buddhist saints as pic here), from saints canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (yes, some of those are still also on our own list of saints! Tradition is still important in our Anglican faith) and that search has not yet ended.
So: this calendar of saints of St Mary’s is very much a work in progress, and I still enjoy finding out more about those who have gone before us and can still inspire us to be more Christlike; most lives have indeed been quite extraordinary!
I freely admit that my choice has been rather personal, influenced by mine own life and experiences in church. I also admit that I have a tendency to research especially women, in their sainthood.
I hope you like this part of St Mary’s website and I pray that this rather personal collection of the communion of saints may support you in your life in the Anglican faith.
Licensed Lay reader in St Mary’s church, Rotterdam