odor of sanctity, the

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odor of sanctity

1. Literally, a specific scent said to emanate from the body of a saint of the Catholic Church. I had never believed it, but upon entering the small crypt that held the saint's remains, I too could perceive the odor of sanctity so many religious writers had detailed before.
2. By extension, a state of grace, saintliness, or holiness. The nun, who tirelessly devoted her life to helping the poor of her nation, died in an odor of sanctity at the age of 97.
3. Smug and often hypocritical moral or social righteousness; sanctimoniousness. The author provides an extremely compelling moral argument, without enshrouding the entire narrative with an odor of sanctity.
See also: odor, of, sanctity

odor of sanctity

Fig. an atmosphere of excessive holiness or piety. I hate their house. There's such an odor of sanctity with Bibles and holy pictures everywhere. The huge, medieval Gothic cathedral had a distinct odor of sanctity.
See also: odor, of, sanctity

odor of sanctity

Exaggerated or hypocritical piety, an assumption of moral superiority, as in This candidate puts off some voters with his odor of sanctity. This expression, originating in the medieval idea that the dead body of a saintly individual gives off a sweet smell, was used to describe saintliness in the mid-1700s. Today it is generally used ironically.
See also: odor, of, sanctity

odor of sanctity, the

A reputation for holiness. Today generally used ironically, for extreme or hypocritical piety, this term is based on the medieval notion that the dead body of a saintly person gives off a sweet smell. From this came, “He died in the odor of sanctity,” meaning he died a saint, which later was extended to mean saintliness in general. G. K. Chesterton used it in his poem “A Song of Self-Esteem”—“The Faith of Tennessee has wafted o’er the sea, the odour of its sanctity—and Golly how it stank!”—in which he derided the prosecution of John Scopes in 1925 for teaching evolution in his class at the Dayton (Tennessee) High School.
See also: odor, of
References in classic literature ?
Once I asked, referring to the smell of peppermints, `Is that the odor of sanctity?' I didn't like to eat Uncle Mark's peppermints because he just fished them loose out of his pocket, and had to pick some rusty nails and other things from among them before he gave them to me.
Martyrdom made a saint of the trivial and foolish Marie Antoinette, and her biographers still keep her fragrant with the odor of sanctity to this day, while unconsciously proving upon almost every page they write that the only calamitous instinct which her husband lacked, she supplied--the instinct to root out and get rid of an honest, able, and loyal official, wherever she found him.
"The aim was to approach the odor of sanctity," Charlier told LiveScience.
But this trio of novels, Chartreuse, Portrait of a Woman, and The Odor of Sanctity, all written by Father Joseph Roccasalvo, S.J., presents spiritual life as quite the opposite.
The Odor of Sanctity centers on Peter Albright, a priest and psychiatrist.
The odor of sanctity has clung too much to this man.
Nonetheless, for five days it remained uncorrupted and redolent of the odor of sanctity, despite the blazing summer heat.
These differences were not confined to incorruptibility and the odor of sanctity but also included external and internal marks, such as stigmata and the alien structures found in Chiara's and Margarita's hearts.(12)
Rather than simplemindedly protesting the dumb sacrifice of laboratory animals, San Guinefort seems to invest technology with the odor of sanctity, and the animal with sacrificial power.
Even more devastating for those who would wrap her in the odor of sanctity, she consciously resisted formal creeds of any kind, and said and did things that would annoy just about every part of the current political spectrum.
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