S is for Saints – Worldbuilding Religions

Like I said… I kind of had to post R and S in opposite order of what they should be for these topics, because alphabet, lol!

If you grew up in a Strictly Protestant home like I did (with the added complexity of one parent being a former-Catholic) then you probably also experienced the “we don’t do saints” conversations that I did. Now, as an adult who has encountered Christians in many different forms, I understand that ‘saints’ are more complex than a simple “we just don’t do that.”

There are at least two ways to use saints in your religion worldbuilding—one very simple way is that all who convert and participate into a specific religion are considered to be ‘saints.’ This may be especially true in a religion where they believe they are the One True Way to heaven, etc. Becoming a follower means becoming set-apart from, potentially, the rest of society, even if just from a spiritual aspect and not a cultural one.

If your magic system entwines with your religions at all, then becoming a ‘saint’ (recognized member of the religion) may also come with certain magical privileges and uses.

The second way you can use saints is the way most people in our world think of when we hear the term ‘saints’—to recognize someone who has been a significant spiritual factor within a religion.

You’ll need to come up with some basis for how saints are recognized, in that case, and if there is any official canonization required by those holding office within an organized religious institution.

Sainthood may be granted to people who have been influential in establishing doctrine within the early formation of a religion, to those who have been martyred (killed unjustly solely for their religious beliefs), or those who have performed miracles. There are, of course, many other reasons that you can use for granting sainthood.

Worldbuilding Exercises

  1. Does your religion recognize saints in anyway? Are they canonized, or is ‘saints’ a general term that applies to converts?
  2. If saints are not canonized, is there any special significance about saints within the religion you’re building?
  3. If saints are canonized, what are the criteria for that to happen? How are potential saints nominated?

Leave a comment below if you have any questions! Thanks for stopping by!

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