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Most professions--and some occupations--have a patron saint, a benign entity who is "adopted" by a field and who bears an informal responsibility for watching over its practitioners. The direct benefits of this relationship are sometimes illusive, but the saint often represents the best traditions of a field. Also, the saint's divine assistance may be petitioned by a practitioner pondering a work-related problem. Among the professions, the patron saint of architects is St. Barbara. St. Luke is the patron saint of physicians. Lawyers--where the need may be greater--have two patron saints: St. Thomas More and St. Yves. Even fields with callings more lowly than these professions have their own saints: St. Anthony the Abbot for gravediggers, St. Martin of Porres for hairdressers, St. Martha for cooks, and St. Giles for beggars.|1~ So, who is the patron saint of the profession of records management? If you don't know, that's fine; there isn't one! Clearly, the time has come to remedy this oversight, and this Contributing Editor is just the person to lead the correcting of this omission.
Some of the information fields already have patron saints. St. Jerome, for example, is the patron saint of librarians. For defending the papal archives in Rome from looting Teutonic barbarians and, in the process, becoming a martyr, St. Lawrence became the patron saint of archivists--though he is, to the archivists' dismay, often referred to as "Lawrence the Librarian."
Within the Roman Catholic, or western, tradition becoming an actual saint is quite difficult. Developed over hundreds of years, there are certain rigorous conventions to be observed:
* A candidate for sainthood must be deceased--the longer the better, usually.
* He/she must either have been martyred or have a reputation for extraordinary virtue (e.g., the candidate's name is invoked when praying for divine favors).
* There must be attributed to the candidate one or more miracles.|2~
After meeting these basic tests, there is a lengthy process, during which all available information about the candidate is collected, witnesses are interviewed, miracles "certified," and so forth. If all goes well, the candidate is first pronounced "venerable," later beatified, and finally canonized. This process may take a hundred years or more. While ARMA International and Records Management Quarterly are not officially in the saint-making business and no doubt lack the patience required for such a lengthy process, we can informally--and with purely secular …