Ways of Perfection and Devout Lives: Saintliness Across Traditions

Saintliness Across Traditions Feature

World Religions World Church Conference

September 26–28, 2021

University of Notre Dame

Christian tradition knows saintliness as a spiritual quality shared by believers by virtue of their closeness to God, marked for Christians by baptism and their mystical bond with God through Christ. In a special way, Christians venerate those saints whose lives of heroic virtue—for some leading to martyrdom—establish them both as models and intercessors for all those who seek intimacy with the divine. At this conference, we will explore how notions of saintliness are expressed in Christianity and other traditions and cultures.

What might we learn from saintly people of various sorts about the journey toward holiness? How can the example of the saints encourage lives of friendship and virtue? These and other questions inspire this World Religions World Church conference at the University of Notre Dame.

This conference was organized by Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C., and Gabriel Said Reynolds from Notre Dame and Alison Fitchett-Climenhaga from Australian Catholic University. It builds on a series of 2020 virtual seminars on the same theme.

All talks have been uploaded to YouTube (here


Unless otherwise noted, all conference sessions will take place in 205–206 McKenna Hall, and all coffee breaks will take place in the space just outside those meeting rooms.

*NB: All times are listed in South Bend’s Eastern Daylight Time. For time zone conversions, click here.

Sunday, September 26

2–3 p.m.    Registration & Coffee

3–4:30 p.m.    Session 1

“Saintliness in Rabbinic Literature: Two Types”
Tzvi Novick, University of Notre Dame

“Milestones of Saintliness in Islam: A Journey in Four Stages (pt. II)”
Martino Diez, Catholic University of Milan

4:45–6:15 p.m.    Session 2

“The Icon as Testimony and Way of Saintliness”
Federico Aguirre Romero, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

“Saint Therese of Lisieux in the Communion of the Saints”
Ann Astell, University of Notre Dame

Monday, September 27

8:30–9 a.m.    Coffee

9–10:30 a.m.    Session 3

“Missionaries as Martyrs: English Catholics within an Iconic Tradition”
Paul Kollman, University of Notre Dame

“Chinese Literati on Ancestral Rites in the Chinese Rites Controversy: The Example of Yan Mo”
Xueying Wang, Loyola University Chicago

10:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.    Session 4

“A Medieval Muslim’s Guide to Sanctity: Ibn ʿAqil (d. 1119) and the ‘Safe Path’ to God”
Gabriel Said Reynolds, University of Notre Dame

“The Sanctity of Saints: the Hanbali al-Ansari and the Friar de Beaurecueil”
Minlib Dallh, University of Oxford

Respondent: Mun'im Sirry, University of Notre Dame

1:45–3:15 p.m.    Session 5

“Saintliness, Images, and Meditation in Tibetan Buddhism”
R. Trent Pomplun, University of Notre Dame

“Jietuo 解脫, Foguang si 佛光寺, and the Religious Ethos of Wutai shan 五台山”
Robert M. Gimello, University of Notre Dame

3:30–5 p.m.    Session 6

“Canonizing Saints in the Colonies: Miracles and Saintliness in the Making of the Uganda Martyrs”
Alison Fitchett-Climenhaga, Australian Catholic University

“‘Universal Sister … A Model of Virtue and Holiness’: Dynamics of Spirituality Illuminated in St. Josephine Bakhita (1869–1947)”
Diane Stinton, Regent College

7:30–8:30 p.m.    Public Lecture    McKenna Auditorium

“A Saint for all Times and Traditions? Meister Eckhart Across Religions”
Catherine Cornille, Boston College

8:30–9 p.m.    Reception    McKenna Gallery

Tuesday, September 28

8–8:30 a.m.    Coffee

8:30–10 a.m.    Session 7

Follow-up discussion of keynote lecture: “A Saint for all Times and Traditions? Meister Eckhart Across Religions”
Catherine Cornille, Boston College

“Scriptural Reasoning and the Cry of the Poor: Seeking Saintliness in Interreligious Dialogue”
Rocío Cortés Rodríguez, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

10:15–11:45 a.m.    Session 8

Panel Discussion: “What Have We Learned?”