While the modern world has largely dismissed the figure of the saint as a throwback, we remain fascinated by excess, marginality, transgression, and porous subjectivity—categories that define the saint. In this collection, Françoise Meltzer and Jas Elsner bring together top scholars from across the humanities to reconsider our denial of saintliness and examine how modernity returns to the lure of saintly grace, energy, and charisma.
Addressing such problems as how saints are made, the use of saints by political and secular orders, and how holiness is personified, Saints takes us on a photo tour of Graceland and the cult of Elvis and explores the changing political takes on Joan of Arc in France. It shows us the self-fashioning of culture through the reevaluation of saints in late-antique Judaism and Counter-Reformation Rome, and it questions the political intent of underlying claims to spiritual attainment of a Muslim sheikh in Morocco and of Sephardism in Israel. Populated with the likes of Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, and Padre Pio, this book is a fascinating inquiry into the status of saints in the modern world.