Celebrity and Sanctity

I wonder how many of today’s celebrities will be remembered seventeen hundred years hence? The fact that we still remember St Martin of Tours so long after his death may provide a few clues about how to attain long-lasting fame. It helps to have a good biographer (Sulpicius Severus) and to have been on the winning side in some historically important struggle (Martin championed Trinitarianism against Arianism). It is also useful to have done something novel (Martin is generally credited with being the founder of the first monastery in Gaul, Marmoutier, and introduced a rudimentary parish system to the diocese of Tours). It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a reputation for mercy (Martin did his best to save the Priscillianists from being put to death and the story of his sharing his cloak with a beggar has passed into legend). But the most certain way of ensuring that one is remembered is to seek not to be remembered at all and become a saint instead. Easy peasy really.

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11 thoughts on “Celebrity and Sanctity”

  1. Perhaps humour and irony don’t always come across well online. Those who seek celebrity or to be ‘remembered’ are seeking their reward here on earth instead of in heaven. I guess we can assume that saints didn’t care about earthly glory, but as they sought the kingdom of God first, all things were added unto them. But trying to become a saint to be remembered after death seems a little self serving to me, and not really the goal of sanctity in the first place!

  2. I seem to be confusing some people.

    The point of the blog was that sanctity is much more important than celebrity and more difficult of achievement. The paradox at the heart of sanctity is that forgetfulness of self, such as St Martin showed consistently throughout his life (see the references I included), actually leads the Church to remember someone as a saint.

    I could adopt a more literal approach, but humour is part of me and my prayer; I try never to use it to make fun of others, but if anyone finds it objectionable, all I can do is say that I am sorry I have given offence. The saints for me are friends in whose company I walk every day. If you do not see the enormous love and respect I have for St Martin, then I have failed indeed.

  3. I came to the comments section intending simply to write ‘Easy-peasy’.

    But I see the very English, Jane Austen way in which our dear Digital Nun writes has been taken literally, so I had better not say achieving sainthood is easy, at the risk of being misunderstood.

    But of course, in one way, we all know it is easy – Our Lord himself told the rich young man that if he wanted to go to heaven all that he needed to do was to give away all his possessions. Simple! But of course difficult as well.

    I had the privilege of being a ‘co-worker’, as we were called, of Mother Teresa in the late 1980s. Life was not always easy in Calcutta, and the Bengalis had perfected the art of tying things up with red tape. Mother Teresa perfected the art of looking the official directly in the eye and saying, ‘it does sound difficult. Will you do it for me?’ She was hard to refuse: easy-peasy.

  4. Catherine – you and I obviously share the same dark – often misunderstood – humour, because I understood what you were getting at straight away! And your “easy peasy” made me smile, because, of course, God created us for total union with him, and it should be as easy and natural to us as breathing… but we make it hellishly difficult…

    But I do hope all the confusion over your humour won’t scare you into ending up being boring!

  5. Yes please don’t ever be conventional and boring. those of us who know you well, share your humour, why should religion etc be dull. I never find it so!

  6. I love St Martin. He is so dear to anyone who has spent time in Germany. My children grew up with St Martin’s ‘geese’, not to mention the beggar and the cloak. Just fab really.

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