There have been many times when I’ve turned to the web to find out more information about a particular saint. Whether I was looking for a confirmation name, a baby name, quotes, or publications, I usually had to click through a few websites until I found the information I was searching for.
Fortunately, there’s a new website that will change the way we search for saints! I came across Saintstir.com, the world’s first online saint taxonomy and search engine for Catholic saints. It’s helpful for people who are simply exploring the lives of the saints, or for those who want to discover something completely new about a saint.
Another feature the site offers are embeddable “Saint of the Day” or “Saint Tile” widgets—great for Catholic blogs or parish websites (see above).
I was able to connect with Jonathan, one of the website’s founders and developers, and I’m pleased to share the following interview with CatholicTechTalk:
Q: Can you tell us what Saintstir is and what your inspiration was to create the website?
The idea of building saintstir.com started when I was tasked with choosing a patron saint for my Catholic confirmation a couple of years ago. Despite all of the print and online publications available on saints, the search was surprisingly difficult.
Saintstir.com aims to make learning about the saints as easy and approachable as possible for everyone. Searching for a saint to intercede for us through a particular situation, or to assist us with achieving a particular virtue should not be difficult.
As I read through the saint’s life stories, I also realized that there was much that the saints could teach us in our modern day, as many of them lived lives counter to the culture of their time. We hope that saintstir.com will help everyone to realize that sainthood is truly within our reach—many of the great saints struggled with the same things that we all do.
Q: How many people are involved in generating the world’s first taxonomy of the saints? Are you accepting volunteers to help with this immense project of classifying the saints?
We’re currently a team of two—we created the current taxonomy and developed all of the software ourselves. We came up with our current taxonomy based upon our own readings and research, featuring a set of attributes that made the most sense to us.
The majority of the attributes are biographical: historic time periods, world regions, vocations, occupations, etc. It gets more interesting when we examine a saint’s life experiences and qualities such as graces and virtues.
It’s important to note that the taxonomy is not static; what we have is a starting point. The software, search engine and databases that power saintstir.com are extremely flexible and can be adapted easily as we modify or refine the taxonomy.
We’re open to volunteers and saint experts, especially those who share the same vision of making the saints more accessible to all through a clear taxonomy. We’re also actively reaching out to partners (authors and creators of sites with saint content) to see whether we can collaborate with a larger community.
Q: I love the minimal, “periodic” theme of the site. Can you tell us a little about the design?
Glad you like it! The “periodic table of elements” theme is one of the first things that most people notice and comment on.
We wanted the design of the site to be fun and visually compelling. The use of insignias, light color coding, and hovers allow us to present as much information as possible, yet maintain a minimalist aesthetic. We call those rounded square shapes our “saint tiles.”
We also wanted the design to reflect the reality that while each saint is unique, each can also be understood in the context of a wider array of common traits and common life experiences. Select an attribute (or set of attributes) on our explorer, and the tiles will be re-adjusted to reflect your particular search. You may even discover other saints to help inspire you on your spiritual journey.
Q: A great feature of the site is users can create an account so they can post on a saint’s wall or add quotes or prayers associated with that saint. What are your ultimate goals for the site as an online Catholic community?
We believe that the saints can play an integral part in our lives and the life of the Church, if we allow them to. We think that the way to do that is to empower all people with the ability to spread that message.
So in addition to presenting our research and views, which many authors have done before in print and online, we ultimately want saintstir.com to be a hub of saint-centered communities as well as a conduit for grace. A personal story or a personal prayer might just prompt another person to take a second look at a saint and at that saint’s message. Real life personal stories are the best ways to show that our saints are indeed alive and yearning to help us on our journey of faith.
Thank you Jonathan, we appreciate you taking the time to talk about Saintstir with CatholicTechTalk. I look forward to watching the site grow as a resource and a community, and I know it will get people excited about the lives of the saints! Be sure to follow Saintstir on Twitter—and share their page and widgets with your friends.