The various essays offered in this collection, each with their own unique and critical focus, enable a comparative glimpse into key problems that anthropological study is confronted with when engaging with the cultural-religious matrix spun around the discourse on saints. This happens by reflecting on the significance of the material form of the medium saint in the person, narrative, depiction, or ritual that provides the basis for interpretation, thereby inviting academic, artistic, and personal reflections on Western cultural perceptions and interactions with the saint’s mediary situation.
Although this material form is interpreted partly in literary, artistic, and at times even entirely fictional form, its materiality effects and affects links beyond its representation to those connected in some way to the saint, whether as devotees, promulgators, artists, or deconstructionists.
Key questions arise when addressing such issues, for example: who or what finds transmission in media and rituals surrounding instances of saint-depictions, worship, and invocation? Can discourses on saints offer something more, something broader than theological debates? Is it possible and useful to seek to identify commonalities and differences in interpreting the place of saints in societies across historical, cultural, and geographical boundaries? What motivates the construction or deconstruction of sainthood?