Making saints
in Indispensable immigrants
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In the spring of 1748, Pope Benedict XIV signed a decree announcing the canonisation of Alberto of Villa d'Ogna. The procedures followed at that time in the Roman Church have with few exceptions remained basically unchanged ever since. Both the procedures and even many of the fundamental concepts of sainthood in play in the 1740s differed in a number of essentials, however, from what they had been back in Alberto's time. Popes were of course involved in making saints but largely in their capacity as bishops, just as other bishops were. The list of saints proclaimed in Western Europe demonstrates clearly that its membership was drawn almost exclusively from the minuscule proportion of the population at the very pinnacle of society: royal families, noble families, and high-ranking ecclesiastical officials.

Indispensable immigrants

The wine porters of northern Italy and their saint, 1200–1800


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