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By John Bookser Feister

St. Anthony, Help Us Find Saints


A Case in Point
Where to Look
Happy Hunting
Web Pick
Check Out

A 2000 study by Pew Internet and American Life Project found that some two million Americans per day search the Internet for religious or spiritual material. From the lively traffic at saints’ Web pages, we could guess that many of these are searching for saints.

USA Today recently noted a renaissance of interest in the saints. The author credited this to a desire for “personalized spirituality.” We Catholics knew that already.

A Case in Point

An Arizona reader e-mailed asking for help finding out about San Marcos de Niza. He’s no household name, yet a number of Southwest institutions bear his name.

My search for information was instructive.

Where to Look

An extensive collection of saints’ biographies on the Web is at Catholic Online ( The saints search engine there allows you to look up saints by name. There were pages and pages of saint biographies, mostly drawn from the old version of Butler’s Lives of the Saints, but I couldn’t find San Marcos there.

Another large site,, boasts over 1,300 articles and 2,400 listings in its saints’ directory. This is a solid collection, too, but no Marcos de Niza.

I found him at the Catholic Encyclopedia ( Most surfers aren’t aware that this is a 1912 publication. It is most reliable as a source for how Catholics viewed the saints in 1912. It is extensive, though. I learned there that Friar Marcos de Niza was a Franciscan missionary first to Peru, then to the Southwest, the first European to visit much of the area, in advance of Coronado. He is considered discoverer of Arizona and New Mexico. It turns out, however, that he’s not actually a canonized saint.

Happy Hunting

For the best biographies of founder saints, I recommend religious order sites (see last month’s column).

Beyond these and other major Catholic publishing sites, the search for saints on the Web becomes more personal. People and parishes everywhere have posted saints lists. One link leads endlessly to another! That’s the blessing and the curse of the Web today.

Web Pick
Study Venerable John Cardinal Newman and track his sainthood cause. He died June 23, 1879. Pope John Paul II recommends the “inspiring thought of Newman’s genius.”

Check Out

It’s a parish site with the full complement of parish listings, schedules, bulletins and more. Nice home-page design and a thoughtful religious education section, with plenty of Web links, make this site stand out.

Worldwide Faith News contains over 14,000 news releases and official documents from the news offices of national and world faith groups. It’s a reliable source for ecumenical and interfaith news; Catholic participation is low.

Take a 34-week “retreat for everyday life” here with Creighton’s Jesuits and online friends using the Ignatian exercises. Daily meditations for computer or Palm Pilot, weekly Mass readings guide and world-class photos by Don Doll, S.J., make this Web site an online feast.


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