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Could J.R.R. Tolkien ever be canonized a saint?



Philip Kosloski - published on 09/06/22

While his cause is not officially open, the local bishop has encouraged Catholics to explore the faith of the famous author.

The Catholic Church recognizes as saints individuals who lead a life of heroic virtue and whose life is worthy of imitation.

Many Catholics around the world believe the author J.R.R. Tolkien could someday be regarded as a saint.

Tolkien is best known for his fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings, a prequel to which is currently the subject of a massive television project funded by Amazon.

However, many do not realize that Tolkien led a very devout life.

For example, Tolkien made it a habit to attend daily Mass and had a sincere devotion to the Eucharist.

When his son Michael was having personal struggles, Tolkien urged him to turn to the Eucharist, expressing to him how the Eucharist kept his faith alive during dark times.

Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament … There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.

Status of cause of canonization

In the cause for J.R.R. Tolkien’s canonization, an Italian priest, Fr. Daniele Pietro Ercoli, contacted the archbishop of Birmingham, England. His response was supportive, and he wrote to Ercoli, “I am pleased to encourage you in seeking to inform people more widely about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Catholic faith and the influence that he this had on his writing and on his life … I would suggest that it is open to you to compose a prayer to be distributed for private and personal use and, if a cause is one day opened, then we can draft an appropriate prayer.” Since this letter a prayer for private use has been composed for his cause.

In 2018, a “Canonization Conference” was promoted for September 1-2, 2018, in Oxford with the hopes that it could jumpstart interest in the cause. Previously, on September 2, 2017, a special Mass was “held at the Oxford Oratory to mark the anniversary of the death” of Tolkien; “The Mass was offered, however, not for the repose of Tolkien’s soul – but rather praying for his Cause for Beatification to be opened … The Mass itself was fittingly celebrated in Tolkien’s old parish church (dedicated to St. Aloysius) with his granddaughter among the congregation.”

Since then, there has been little progress towards the opening of an official cause, though interest in Tolkien’s works is on the rise again with Amazon’s new series.

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