Catholic Saints Database To Be Released

EDIT 6/25/2013: Updated info at this post.

On October 1, the database of Catholic saints and blesseds which I have been constructing will be launched into cyberspace by ecatholichub.net. I invite you to take a look at it and let me know what you think once it gets up on the web. The database is based on the data in the 2004 Roman Martyrology which I explained in a previous post. What makes it unique and special as far as online saint databases go, is its comprehensive scope. It doesn’t leave out saints or add people who are not recognized by the Catholic Church. There are a few other saint databases online and each one has its merits and problems. But I think this new one at ecatholichub.net will really take the cake. It’s more of a reference tool, I suppose, but it provides data that no one else is providing. In that sense, I think it will be very useful for finding saints that are less well known. Right now, we’ve got 6,882 entries. Now there are still a handfull of double entries that I haven’t deleted yet. And there are some entries which include martyr groups or several people for whatever reason. This can result in double entry (when each member of the group is also listed separately) or it can result in masking the total number (for example, if there are 100 martyrs in a group, but we only have the names of three of them).

The most challenging part of putting the database together was translating Latin proper nouns which describe diocesan sees over which a saint bishop ruled or locations where martyrs were put to death. I had piles of Latin dictionaries and word lists all over my desk and I was mining the depths of the resources at Catholic University’s library trying to find various words. I got the vast majority of difficult terms and proper nouns from Latin into English, but there are still a few I left untranslated because I couldn’t find them. Hopefully, this will not bar people from figuring out who these saints are or confusing them with one another.

One of the coolest features about the database is the ability to search with multiple criteria. You can use any combination of fields to search for saints by name, title, feast day, year of death, etc. I think this should be useful for finding all saints with the name “Odo” or all saints remembers on August 24th and such like.

I really struggled over whether to uniformly translate saint names into English or vary it up a little based on common usage. For example, St. Teresa of Avila is usually spelled “Teresa” in English, but St. Therese of Lisieux is another story. Both appear as “Teresa” in Latin. Then of course, there are different spellings of Anne, Ann, Anna, Hannah and then Mary, Maria, Marie, etc. It goes on. Some saints have a Latinized “-us” on the end like “Bernardus.” In most cases, I chopped off the “-us.” The reason this is such a struggle is that many people are named after saints and take great pride in the spelling of their names because names are such an important part of our identity and self-understanding. But I judged that in the interest of saint-searchers, uniformity was the best route. I listed many saints with alternative names in the Biography field, so if people are used to calling a saint by a certain spelling or title, it still can usually be found.

I’m hoping that the database will grow over time and new saints and blesseds will keep being added. If it goes in the right direction, we may be able to set it up to take user-generated content like pictures and biographical information. Like I said, I think it will be very useful to a lot of people and it really is a one-of-a-kind thing on the Internet. Once the link is up, I’ll provide it for you here and ya’ll can have a look for yourselves.

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