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.
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.
Case in Point
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.
search for information was instructive.
Where to Look
An extensive collection of saints’ biographies on the Web
is at Catholic Online (www.Catholic.org).
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, Catholic-forum.com,
boasts over 1,300 articles and 2,400 listings in its saints’
directory. This is a solid collection, too, but no Marcos
found him at the Catholic Encyclopedia (www.newadvent.org).
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.
the best biographies of founder saints, I recommend religious
order sites (see last
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.