Saint Siddhartha Gautama, pray for us!
Sure, _I’ve_ recognized the Buddha as a saint for years, but imagine my surprise when I received an email from a reader today pointing out that “Saint Josaphat” is a figure derived from the story of Siddhartha Gautama.
I decided to check it out, and found these links:
Check out the “(ext)Korea Times article”:http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/culture/200507/kt2005070420024111680.htm
and the Wikipedia article on Saint Josaphat.
Still, I was wondering if this might be Christo-Buddhist wishful thinking, until I saw “(ext)this article”:http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02297a.htm in the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, which simply affirms that the story of Josaphat is a Christianized version of the Buddha’s story. The article nowhere calls Josaphat a saint, which leads to the question, did he actually become a Catholic saint or not, and if so, is he still?
The email I received stated that the Catholic Church “proclaimed” him a saint, and he was later reaffirmed as such by St. John of Damascus (aka the Hermit, aka Damascene) who died in the mid-8th century. Technically speaking he certainly wasn’t “proclaimed” a saint. Proclamation, the culmination of the rigorous process of canonization had not yet been developed by the Church. Saints in the first millennium were recognized by popular _acclamation_, and it does seem he was regarded as a saint, with a feast day of November 27. And here at the Online Medieval and Classical Library is the story of “(ext)Barlaam and Ioasaph”:http://omacl.org/Barlaam/, attributed to St. John of Damascus.
Apparently his feast day was removed from the Catholic liturgical calendar in 1969, but that technically does not “de-saint” a saint—it merely de-emphasizes them. (And sometimes not very successfully; you can Google St. Philomena or St. Christopher to see that devotion to those saints persists contrary to Church efforts.
Of course, all this ultimately is irrelevant. Is the Buddha a saint? Duh!