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Saint Tolkien?


Nov 26 2017, 11:51pm

Post #1 of 18 (3303 views)
Saint Tolkien? Can't Post

I learned through John Rateliff's blog that there is a movement to have Tolkien canonized. There is even a website, https://causefortolkien.org. I find it all very odd. Not being Catholic, I don't really have an opinion on the subject. But I find it very odd. Very odd indeed!

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Nov 27 2017, 1:16am

Post #2 of 18 (3204 views)
Um, yeah. [In reply to] Can't Post

I am a former Roman Catholic and I am mystified as well.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Nov 27 2017, 1:18am

Post #3 of 18 (3208 views)
Saints be praised [In reply to] Can't Post

The site is modest enough: the group's goal is to try to find out how to advance Tolkien's canonization. But the quotes they offer are all (I think) from his letters, which show (as if anyone doubted it) that he was both a devout and eloquent Catholic in his private life.
I would be surprised if the case can be made to the Vatican that his Catholicism and deeds of Catholic faith on Earth were of the rank that merits sainthood. As he said, he felt it made his art more powerful if he 'buried' the Catholic roots of his worldview, by removing all explicit religious references from his masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. His impact on the world is inversely proportionate to explicit exercise of his faith.
But I am not a Catholic. I have no skin in this game, and maybe others who know more will correct me as to the proprieties of this effort.

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Nov 27 2017, 2:00am

Post #4 of 18 (3203 views)
Sainthood [In reply to] Can't Post

For full sainthood to be granted I believe that at least two authenticated miracles have to be attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien's intervention (usually posthumous). I'm sure that there is much more to it, and someone will correct me if I am mistaken.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Nov 27 2017, 9:50am

Post #5 of 18 (3129 views)
I also find it odd.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...I'm not a Catholic either so have no business having an opinion about it. Last year I gave a copy of Smith of Wootton Major to a friend, an elderly Catholic priest - we'd often talked about Tolkien, though he'd never read anything by him, and I thought he might like it. He was very enthusiastic - tells me it's all about prayer. So maybe he would agree, or at least see what has prompted this movement.
A similar thing has happened and is happening in relation to the Russian imperial family. Many of those who were killed in the revolution or died earlier have been canonized in the Orthodox church - others seem to be on the way to canonization. As a historian studying and writing about them as human beings I can't help finding it strange. I always wonder how they would have felt about it. I wonder how Tolkien would feel about it.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


Nov 27 2017, 2:23pm

Post #6 of 18 (3107 views)
I guess it would depend on how one defines ‘miracle.’ [In reply to] Can't Post

Apart from his life’s work, which to Christians seem infused with reflections of his faith — in spite of any effort on his part to scrub such from his works — Tolkien is known for his role in C.S. Lewis’ conversion from atheist to Christian. This may be considered a miracle given that Lewis went on to write some of the most important Christian books of the 20th Century... kind of a slow burn, but a miracle nonetheless.

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Nov 27 2017, 2:25pm)


Nov 27 2017, 3:38pm

Post #7 of 18 (3089 views)
There are probably many potential "saints" [In reply to] Can't Post

who have devoted followers or fans hoping to spread the word and get support for their cause. We just happen to have heard of this one because we follow all things Tolkien, but I imagine there are always hundreds of petitions being put forward to the Catholic authorities for consideration, and this one seems to be very far from even being eligible for consideration. I imagine bishops have to send out a lot of "thank you for your application but..." letters all the time!

Even by his own admission, Tolkien wasn't always devout and didn't pass his faith on very successfully to his own children (he mentions his regrets in Letter 250 for example). His faith was a very personal one, and tied up closely with his love for his mother and his need to honour her memory after her early death. Saints normally have done something much more active and sacrificial on behalf of their faith than anything I have ever heard about Tolkien's life. I'd say Tolkien's Catholic faith helped him in his life's work, but his life's work was not really dedicated to his faith, as it should be for anyone being considered for sainthood.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings

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Nov 27 2017, 5:21pm

Post #8 of 18 (3064 views)
Saint Tolkien! And you can purchase his icon on pictures, mugs, T-shirts, devotional candles... [In reply to] Can't Post

Just follow the link: https://www.trinitystores.com/...rr-tolkien-1892-1973

(I found this several years ago. I like the background, but it looks like he's blowing bubbles out of his pipe...)


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Nov 27 2017, 6:53pm

Post #9 of 18 (3064 views)
I was reminded of this fellow: [In reply to] Can't Post


Does anybody remember him? He was an active member of TORn a few years ago. I always found his posts very entertaining.


Nov 28 2017, 2:06am

Post #10 of 18 (3007 views)
Huh, that's interesting. [In reply to] Can't Post

This reminds me of the fact that apparently some people are trying to canonize G.K. Chesterton. I thoroughly enjoy both Tolkien and Chesterton's works, but it just seems a bit silly to me that anyone would try to canonize them. I mean, sure, they've written some great stuff--but saints? Really?

Although I am not Roman Catholic, either, so perhaps I am missing something here...

The road goes ever on and on...


Nov 28 2017, 3:43am

Post #11 of 18 (3002 views)
I was turned into a newt... [In reply to] Can't Post

but since reading The Hobbit, I've got much better.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.


Nov 28 2017, 12:21pm

Post #12 of 18 (2968 views)
hmmm... how about Knighthood? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the person being considered has to be living... but this could definitely apply to Christopher Tolkien. imho, his contribution to his father's work and his own dedicated creativity in expanding and extending the works makes him very much worth considering. When I think of what we would have lost had Christopher not carried on for decades gives me shivers.


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Nov 29 2017, 4:11am

Post #13 of 18 (2902 views)
I used to be a coyote but I’m alright nowooooooo! / [In reply to] Can't Post


Petty Dwarf

Nov 30 2017, 1:44am

Post #14 of 18 (2852 views)
I could see Chesterton... [In reply to] Can't Post

...much more easily than I could see Tolkien, given that a lot of Chesterton's writing was about his faith at least tangentially. Tolkien's is, as has been said, a bit more buried in his works.

As a Catholic, I would be pretty happy if Tolkien was declared a Saint, but it seems unlikely.

"No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone."


Nov 30 2017, 2:45pm

Post #15 of 18 (2811 views)
That would seem far more appropriate. // [In reply to] Can't Post



Dec 5 2017, 12:54am

Post #16 of 18 (2655 views)
Thanks for replying! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm going to look up sainthood more because I'm curious to know more about what Catholicism holds to be true of people who are given sainthood.

I appreciate the response because I was wondering what the someone with a Catholic background would think of that. Good to know your thoughts on it. :)

The road goes ever on and on...

Petty Dwarf

Dec 6 2017, 12:00am

Post #17 of 18 (2598 views)
Sainthood takes a long time to go through [In reply to] Can't Post

In fact, there are two orders below Sainthood, Venerable and Blessed.

There was one priest who was Venerable for so long that when he eventually was made a saint, they gave him the title of Saint Bede the Venerable so that everyone would know who was being talked about! Tongue

In any case, the person being considered for Sainthood has to have lived a life of extraordinary virtue, have done something good for the Church, and have three miracles attributed to them. Many fewer people are rejected than are canonized.

Could Tolkien make it? I don't know.

"No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone."


Dec 9 2017, 4:39pm

Post #18 of 18 (2483 views)
Oh, yeah, the Venerable Bede! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've read some of his stuff before. It has been many many years, and at the time I didn't realize that "Venerable" was an order. Definitely going to have to look at this in deeper detail sometime.

Thanks for the info, Petty Dwarf! Wink

The road goes ever on and on...


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