Christians profess belief in a ‘communion of the saints’; believers are united in Christ to the holy ones of all ages and places. This unit investigates how believers have understood the idea of ‘holiness’ through time. How has holiness found expression, how has it been taught and depicted and how is it expressed in contemporary society. Encountering the saints, these models of holiness, is a key focus of the course.

Unit code: DS9216Y

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


Account for the evolving understandings of ‘holiness’ through Christian history.


Critically assess the ways in which modern Christianity give expressions to holiness.


Analyse and make critical use of hagiographical and other texts


Investigate the theological underpinnings to the doctrine of the communion of the saints.


Analyse how contemporary understandings of holiness finds expression in liturgy, prayer and devotion.

Unit sequence

Prerequisite of at least one unit of Church History or Spirituality


An interactive mode lecture, exploratory workshop, series of pre-prepared materials and online resources will be employed.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bartlett, Robert. Why Can the Dead do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.
  • Bingemer, Maria Clara. Saints and Sanctity Today. London: SCM Press, 2013
  • Clarke, Peter, and Tony Claydon (eds). Saints and Sanctity. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2010
  • Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exultate, Apostolic Exhortation, 2018
  • Head, Thomas. Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology. London: Routledge, 2001
  • Le Goff, Jacques. In Search of Sacred Times. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014
  • Wilson, Stephen. Saints and their Cults. Cambridge: CUP, 1985


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 3500 words

3500 50.0

Essay 700 words

700 10.0

Essay 700 words

700 10.0

Essay 700 words

700 10.0

Essay 700 words

700 10.0

Essay 700 words

700 10.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Jul, 2018

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:49 +1000