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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

  • William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Aelred of Hexham, Abbot of Rievaulx
  • Benedict Biscop, Abbot of Wearmouth
  • Kentigern, Bishop of Cumbria
  • Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester
  • Richard Rolle of Hampole, Spiritual Writer
  • Brigid, Abbess of Kildare
  • Chad, Bishop of Lichfield
  • Felix, Bishop, Apostle to the East Angles
  • Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne
  • William of Ockham, Friar, Philosopher
  • Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr
  • Anselm of Canterbury, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Mellitus, first Bishop of London
  • Julian of Norwich, Spiritual Writer, Mystic
  • Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Alcuin of York, Deacon, Abbot of Tours
  • The Venerable Bede, Monk at Jarrow, Scholar, Historian
  • Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne
  • Augustine of Canterbury, first Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Petroc, Missionary to the West Country
  • Columba, Abbot of Iona, Missionary
  • Richard, Bishop of Chichester
  • Alban, Protomartyr of Britain
  • Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely
  • Swithun, Bishop of Winchester
  • Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury
  • Oswald, King of Northumbria, Martyr
  • Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, Missionary
  • Birinus, Bishop of Dorchester, Apostle of Wessex
  • Ninian, Bishop of Galloway, Apostle of the Picts
  • Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen, Visionary
  • Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • William Tyndale, Translator of the Scriptures, Martyr
  • Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, Philosopher, Scientist
  • Paulinus, Archbishop of York, Missionary
  • Wilfrid, Bishop, Missionary
  • Edward the Confessor, King of England
  • Cedd, Abbot of Lastingham, Bishop of the East Saxons
  • Willibrord of York, Bishop, Apostle of Frisia
  • Margaret, Queen of Scotland, Mystic
  • Edmund Rich of Abingdon, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln
  • Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, 680
  • Edmund, King of the East Angles, Martyr
  • Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr

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 widespread 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:

  • Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, Spiritual Writer, Theologian
  • George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand
  • William Bedell, Bishop of Kilmore, Spiritual Writer, Translator of Bible into Irish and Book of Common Prayer into Italian language
  • Thomas Bray, Founder of the SPCK
  • Charles Henry Brent, first Episcopal Bishop of the Philippines (commemorated on 27 March by the Anglican Communion and 25 August by the Episcopal Church in the Philippines)
  • John Bunyan, Spiritual Writer
  • Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, Philosopher
  • Josephine Butler, Social Reformer
  • John Donne, Priest, Poet
  • Julia Chester Emery, Upholder of Missions
  • Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community
  • George Herbert, Priest, Poet
  • Richard Hooker, Priest, Apologist, Theologian
  • John Keble, Priest, Tractarian, Poet
  • Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells
  • Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln
  • Clive Staples Lewis, Spiritual Writer, Apologist
  • William Law, Priest, Spiritual Writer,
  • Frederick Denison Maurice, Priest
  • Constance Markiewicz, Social Reformer
  • Bernard Mizeki, Apostle of the MaShona, Martyr
  • John Mason Neale, Priest, Hymn Writer
  • John Henry Newman, Cardinal, Tractarian, Theologian
  • Florence Nightingale, Nurse, Social Reformer
  • John Coleridge Patteson, first bishop of Melanesia and martyr
  • Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest, Tractarian
  • Samuel Seabury, first Anglican Bishop in North America
  • Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor
  • William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Evelyn Underhill, Spiritual Writer
  • Isaac Watts, Hymn Writer
  • Charles Wesley, Evangelist, Hymn Writer
  • John Wesley, Evangelist, Hymn Writer
  • William Wilberforce, Social Reformer

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.