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Daily Catholic Question

How many saints are there?

That is a difficult question to answer. In the first eight or nine centuries there was no formal process of canonization. People were recognized as saints because of a kind of popular acclamation. People were believed to be saints because they had been martyred for the faith or they had lived very holy lives. Often their graves became places of pilgrimage and prayer. We have no idea of how many people’s holiness was not recognized. That is one reason why we have the Feast of All Saints.

Sometimes the recognition of holiness was particular to an area or community. Sometimes the reputation for sanctity spread beyond national borders.

It was not until 993 that the first official canonization took place. It was then that Pope John XV declared Bishop Ulrich of Augsburg a saint.

The original edition of Butler’s Lives of the Saints, published between 1756 and 1759, had 1,486 entries. The 1956 revision contained 2,565. Given the many people that Pope John Paul II beatified or canonized during his papacy (a record number) the next revision may extend well past its current 12 volumes.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013
Daily Catholic Question for 5/10/2013 Daily Catholic Question for 5/12/2013

Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.

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