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In Toaru Majutsu no Index, there are currently about 20 saints

as of before the Acqua of the Back-Arc.

So far I've read until the arc named in the spoiler and I'm wondering, how you become a saint and what makes a saint?

Kanzaki mentions that she was born with that ability, so it's most likely that it's a trait that one has all his life. But it seemed to me, that Acqua of the Back wasn't a saint back when he worked for England; Is this wrong or did he become a saint when he became a part of Gods right Seat?
It also seems, that a life of a saint doesn't depend on being a saint, because Acqua comes back later.

Are saints just extremely powerful? Or do they have another special trait?

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    Kaori Kanzaki is so powerful she can survive (and fight) in the vacuum of space AND survive reentry. All in ripped jeans and a t-shirt. – кяαzєя Nov 27 '13 at 17:11
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As the power of Saints is based on the Idol Theory (humans are replicas of God so they can reproduce a fraction of his power - Saints are just humans who are "better replicas" in this sense), it seems to be something innate and defined at birth. Brunhild's backstory in the Kanzaki SS also confirms the Saint status is something one is born with.

It's actually a core plot point in her story since she suffered heavy discrimination for it.

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