Brian O’Neel on Saint Who? Some Holy Unknowns
Date: November 5th, 2012

Do you know your saints?  You probably have head of St. Peter, St. Paul, and even St. Patrick.  And, of course, in modern times we have had the widely-known Mother Teresa of Calcutta beatified.  But what about St. Pietro Parenzo, Bl. Sebastian de Aparicio, St. Januarius, or the Martyrs of Korea?  Who dat?!  Brian O’Neel, author of Saint Who? 39 Holy Unknowns discusses sainthood in the Catholic Church.  After a bit of lighthearted football banter, we explore the issue of how one becomes a saint in the Catholic Church.  Brian leads us through the process and provides several examples along the way.  We talk about the history of this process, noting that the standard for sainthood was fairly loose from the 500s to the 1100s, but has been more rigorous since.  He is quick to note that sainthood is not mereley a “Catholic hall of fame,” but rather includes some very stringent standards for living a holy life above and beyond the call of most pious individuals.  Tony notes that Pope John Paul II is in the process of beatification and asks about whether or not all popes make it to sainthood eventually.  Brian responds that while many popes do become saints, not all have lived a life worthy of that great honor.  Tony then asks if anybody has been removed from the canon of saints and is surprised by the answer.  Not only do some saints get removed, but “someone” that everyone knows as a saint — St. Christopher, the patron saint of travellers — was removed because there is no proof that such a person ever lived.  Brian provides another interesting example of a child saint from the town of Trent that was removed because there was no proof related to this boy’s death having occured as local lore has it.  Brian also corrects Tony about his understanding of St. Patrick, pointing out that his is not the patron saint of drinking.  However, we learn that there was another Irish man who is associated with being a patron of overcoming alcoholism, the venerable Matthew Talbot.  The conversation then turns to the lives of unknown saints that Brian has written about in his most recent book, starting out with a story about how the idea for this book was conceived and how he found people who are relatively uknown.  We then break out and discuss some of the people covered in this book, including Tony’s favorite Sebastián de Aparicio, the first cowboy, and Saint Faith of Conques, the “practical joker.”  We finish off with a discussion of the Matyrs of Korea, providing a brief history of Catholicism in Asia and exemplifying the global reach of Christianity and how all cultures have helped to inspire our faith.  Interestingly, Korea has produced the fourth most number of saints after Italy, France, and Germany.  Brian closes with his thoughts about the importance of the saints and how we too can be energized by their faith no matter how unknown they may be.  Recorded: October 17, 2012.


Saint Who? 39 Holy Uknowns, by Brian O’Neel.

39 New Saints Your Should Know, by Brian O’Neel.


John Sweeney on the Pope Who Quit.

James Felak on Pope Pius XII, the Wartime Pontiff.

James Felak on Pope John Paul II.

Jim Papandrea on the Early Church Fathers.

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