On moral sainthood, and why it ain’t worth having

[image: Madonna and Child with Saints, by Giovanni Bellini, circa 1459–1516; this is essay #340 in the Philosophy as a Way of Life series]

When I grew up as a Catholic in Rome, Italy, I was taught the notion that the most praiseworthy role models (other than Jesus, of course) are the saints. Saints are people who devote their entire existence to help others — think Francis of Assisi, or Mother Theresa (though there are doubts about the saintliness of the latter).