By Timothy G. Pearson
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Additional info for Becoming Holy in Early Canada
Meanwhile, institutional efforts to limit the right to proclaim saints to the Holy See were only partially successful, in that the prerogative of recognizing a holy performance remained with local communities. In New France, extraordinary displays of religiosity took place within a spirit of experimental Catholicism and before a very small Catholic population that lived on the extreme margins of Christendom. All these factors, from Trent’s pronouncements to the religious contexts of the establishment of the early colonies in Canada, shaped colonial holy performances and reactions to them in the settler communities of early Canada.
Meanwhile, with little restraint other than semantic artifice, the text might relate miraculous interventions and refer to the subject as a saint. ”28 Anne, grandmother to Jesus, was of course already a saint of the Church, but these new miracles required authentication. Morel, unwilling to wait, simply pushed ahead with his conviction that the marvels he wrote about were divine in origin. 29 Such disclaimers allowed new biographies to be published quickly after the death of a holy person, in order to take best advantage of eyewitness testimony without impinging on the prerogative of the Church to officially name saints.
Performances of this type were both real and constructed. Real in that they took place within lived relationships, and constructed in that they were formed of, and invoked, shared experiences, beliefs, and ideals about society and the sacred. ”25 Lived relationships between local people and local saints were immediate and fluid; people often knew the holy person directly, or knew someone who did. Colonists saw the performance of the traditions of holiness as a kind of ritual that transmitted certain ideas and knowledge about what the colony was or should be, and expressed common ambitions and anxieties that invoked a shared experience of the sacred.