Wikipedia:WikiProject Saints/Style Guidelines

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Basic rules[edit]

As with all articles on Wikipedia, articles about saints must maintain a neutral point of view, be composed of information that is attributable to a reliable source, and must not contain original research.

The biographies of saints present a particular challenge, in that it is essential that the historical information concerning the life particular saint be separated from information about the veneration of this person as a saint in a given religious community or denomination. If in doubt, one way to achieve this clear division is to divide an article into two parts: Life and Veneration.

However, saints are so diverse, that standardization cannot be pushed too far. Saints vary from important historic figures (popes, kings, philosophers, etc.) with well documented biographies to completely legendary ones. Therefore physical division of an article may not always be very practical. But even then there should be no doubt as to what is a historical fact, and what belongs to legends and tradition.


This section should concentrate on the historical facts of the individual's life, and must follow the same rules as any other biography. If possible, it should give the real name of the saint, his/her dates and places of birth and death, list his/her accomplishments, and so forth.

It would be preferable if the styles like "Venerable", "Blessed" or "Saint" were not used in this section for the sake of NPOV.

This section may also cover legendary matters (such as miracles performed by the saint during his/her life), but it should make clear that it belongs to tradition.

Of course, if necessary, this section may be subdivided or followed by another section, e.g. dealing with the person's accomplishments (Works, Writings or the like) or Death (especially in case of some martyrs).

Veneration as a saint[edit]

This section should describe the development of the veneration or cult of the person in question after his/her death. In cases where the individual was formally canonized by a church. this section should inform about who, where and when beatified and/or canonized the saint. It may also give some details concerning the cult, like its historical and geographic reach (some saints were more popular in some places and periods than others), as well as things like feast date, patronage (what he/she is a patron saint of), how he/she is traditionally depicted in religious art, etc.

Terms and Titles[edit]

In the Roman Catholic Church, exemplars of the faith are generally divided into three categories: those for whom the formal process of canonizion has just begun (Servant of God), those who have been beatified (the Blessed), and those who have been canonized (the Saints). In addition, many considered to be saints in the Roman Catholic Church were popularly acclaimed as such prior to the founding of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints; these are considered to have been canonized "pre-congregation."

While the titles "Blessed" and "Saint" are clearly distinguished in the Roman Catholic tradition, they are interchangeable in the Eastern Orthodox traditions. Further, the Eastern traditions do not have a formal canonization process; instead, persons are declared to be saints by Synods or patriarchs.

Protestant churches rarely have a formal process for identifying saints. Persons who are held up as examplars of faith are commemorated on the liturgical calendars of such churches.

After their death, many saints continue to be noted for the positions they held in the church. Some titles of this nature include: bishop, abbott (or abbottess), cardinal, and patriarch.

There are other titles and terms commonly used when discussing saints (this list is not exhaustive):

  1. Martyr - a person who dies for his/her faith.
  2. Confessor - a person recognized for his/her way of life; or a person who suffered but did not die for the faith.
  3. Doctor of the Church - a formal title, bestowed on certain individuals after their death.
  4. Apostle - those who followed Christ during his earthly life
  5. Prophet - used in a variety of manners, predominantly to refer to those who witnessed to the Gospel prior to the incarnation.
  6. Passion-bearer - those who suffered for the faith and died, but were not specifically martyred.
  7. Equal_to_the_Apostles - who were instrumental in bringing a whole nation or region to Christ (esp. in Eastern traditions)

The word "Saint" in article titles[edit]

General conventions that apply to this question are:

Also note the "St. XXX" ("St XXX") are used for names of churches (e.g. St. Peter's Basilica), while "Saint XXX" should be used when writing about people (e.g. Saint Peter).

Images, Iconography and attributes[edit]

The canonical attributes of classical iconography of the saint should be described. If there are regional or era differences in those attributes, they should be discussed. Major artistic works depicting the saint should be linked.

As part of the WikiProject Saints it is encouraged that images be attached to all articles. If possible, reproduction of representative and major works should be inserted. Look through commons:Category:Saints to see if there are images to illustrate your page.

We encourage everyone to look at two sources for images:

  1. commons:Category:Saints
  2. Saints pages in other languages

We also encourage everyone to help with the categorization of images at:

Finally, we encourage everyone to participate in Wikipedia:Moving images to the Commons.

A word about infoboxes[edit]

When possible, the {{Infobox Saint}} should be used on the biographies of saints. At times, this will not be appropriate, and some other biography infobox should be used. When a different infobox is used, the saints' portal graphic should be placed in the see also or references section of the article.