Heroes

[There] is [a] mode of considering the Saints and their doings, which is not only valuable in itself, but increases the value of the teaching conveyed in the details of their history, and that is the view of them as living and breathing men, as persons and invested with personal attributes and a character of their own, and peculiarities of habit and feeling and opinion such as belong to him and not to another…I would contemplate [a Saint], if I could, not merely in this action, or that, but as a man. I want so to bring him before me, that the most opposite or apparently irreconcilable points in his conduct, as detailed by his biographers, should at once by the very sight of him be understood and coalesce with each other…Of few deeds comparatively out of the multitude that have been done, could we surely pronounce, a Saint did, or no Saint ever did this. And the deeds of one Saint are not the deeds of another Saint; and what is saintly in one might be a sin in another…The lights and shades of the saintly character, of the individual saint are necessary for understanding what a Saint is.

(Bl John Henry Newman Fragment of a Life of St Philip 1853)

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