Saints are people that have been formally recognized as having led a particularly holy life and somehow demonstrating a close relationship to God. While Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy believe a saint to be anyone that is in heaven, they both have specific ways of officially recognizing them. For Catholics, several criteria must be met, including a verified miracle. Eastern Orthodox formally recognizes a person's sainthood as the popularity of a local "folk" saint grows.
Because Catholics venerate their saints, and one of the requirements of canonization the papacy considers is having performed a miracle after death by answering prayers, pieces of saints' body parts are spread among churches all over the globe. The Catholic church refers to these as relics. The idea behind relic veneration is linked to the New Testament and was completely ingrained in the church at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, when church authorities passed a law stating that every church should have a relic at its altar.
Because of the age and the popularity of the practice, there are many saintly tombs, relics, and graves for us to see. However, for those same reasons, there is some confusion with a few places claiming possession of a few of the same saints and their body parts.
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John was one of Jesus's 12 apostles and a leader of the early church in Jerusalem. It's believed John spent his later years in this region of Turkey, then known as Ephesus. It was there that he is said to have written his gospel. He was buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill, and a few years later a church was built around his grave. In the 6th century, Byzantine emperor Justinian I built the Basilica of Saint John around the grave, and those are the ruins that surround it to this day.
- Birthplace: Galilee, Israel
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Peter was one of Jesus' 12 apostles and is recognized by the Catholic church as the first in its succession of popes. Peter's tomb is believed to be underneath the baldachin in Saint Peter's Basilica. During excavations in 1939, nine bone fragments thought to belong to Peter were found. In 2019, Pope Francis gifted those relics to the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
- Birthplace: Bethsaida, Syria
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- Birthplace: Assisi, Italy
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- Age: Dec. at 13 (290-303)
- Birthplace: Hispania, Spain