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Kathleen Sprows Cummings
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$46,200 (approved)
$46,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2010 – 6/30/2011

Citizen Saints: Catholics and Canonization in American Culture

Canonization, the process by which the Roman Catholic Church designates saints, offers a particularly revealing interpretive tool in analyzing the shifting relationship between Catholicism and American culture. Because saints become popular in certain contexts, a study of canonization reveals much more about the people promoting them than it does about the saints themselves. Drawing upon common themes from multiple causes for canonization (both approved and pending), CITIZEN SAINTS explores how canonization has functioned both as a marker of Catholic difference and an agent of Catholic assimilation in the U.S. CITIZEN SAINTS opens with an examination into church leaders' quest for the first American saint, which began in the 1880s and ended with Elizabeth Ann Seton's canonization in 1975. Subsequent chapters view the connections between canonization and Catholic Americanization through five lenses: immigration, race, gender, commodification, and sexuality.