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In the Catholic Church’s tradition and canon law, canonizations represent the final step of trials aiming to verify the heroicity of virtues and/or the martyrdom of those who died in the odor of sanctity. At the same time, canonizations also confirm specific hagiographical models, namely models of Christian perfection or holiness, as imitable behavioral examples.

Such models range from virgins to missionaries and martyrs, confessors, and — especially in the 1900s — good mothers and physicians, to name but a few. They not only convey precise messages to devotees but are rooted in theology and culture, reflecting the identity traits and values of the canonizations’ postulators — especially when backed by religious orders — as well as the cultural features of the societies that fostered these devotions.

This online conference thus aims to bring together the authors of papers related to the promotion of causes for canonization and hagiographical models, which were developed globally from the 1500s to the 1900s, paying particular attention to the role of theology and culture in shaping hagiographical models.

We welcome papers on topics including but not limited to:

  • The theological legitimization of doctrinal and moral positions through canonization
  • The legitimization of early modern religious orders through the canonization of their founders, such as in the 1622 canonizations
  • Martyrdom and suffering, including in missions ad gentes and ad intra
  • Self-sacrifice, including cases of atonement and stigmata
  • Case studies of both successful and unsuccessful models of sanctity

The conference will be held online from December 15 through 17, 2021, and is organized by Elisa Frei (Università di Macerata and Boston College) and Eleonora Rai (KU Leuven).