Saints are the heroes of the Catholic faith.
They lived lives in holiness, dedicated to serving God and spreading His message of salvation.

The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ.

Saints are the heroes of the Catholic faith. They lived lives in holiness, dedicated to serving God and spreading His message of salvation. Indeed, many Catholic saints courageously met their deaths simply because of their faith. Today, the saints serve as examples for all Catholics, showing us how to lead a more satisfying, more spiritual life in communion with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They are reminders that this life will come to an end, and only what was done for Christ will have a lasting reward. Each saint’s story is a fascinating one. They lived at different times in different places throughout history, but they all shared a love of God that has been meticulously documented through the teachings of the Catholic Church. View our comprehensive documentation, from the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Saints, to St Anthony of Padua, and other saints who serve as theologians and doctors of the Church.


American Saints & Blesseds

Great Saint Evangelizers

On the Road to Sainthood

What does the Bible say about praying to saints?

The Bible reveals that the saints who have died aren’t disconnected from and uninterested in those who are alive on earth

Old Testament Example: 

Jeremiah 15:1–Long after their deaths, Moses and Samuel are depicted pleading for the Israelite people on earth

New Testament Examples

  • Revelation 8:3 – The prayers of the saints rise up before God, and then God acts on earth.
  • John 15 – “I am the vine, and you are the branches.”
  • St. Paul – We are the “body of Christ.” It doesn’t make sense that death would rupture this bond. 1 Corinthians 12
  • Hebrews 12:1 – The saints are a “cloud of witnesses”

Intercession for Others Isn’t Optional for Christians 

Love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand. The saints are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. When we grow in fellowship with our fellow Christians, we grow in fellowship with Christ. This is the vision of the Church that the New Testament gives to us.

2 Corinthians 1:11–St. Paul commands the Christians in Corinth to pray for him.

1 Timothy 2:1–Timothy commands the Christians to pray for each other

Saintly devotion is an integral aspect of our faith. But it can be perplexing to non-Catholics who may not fully understand this practice. To bridge the gap and help those in your circle comprehend the role of saints in Catholicism, it’s essential to explain the rich tradition, purpose and significance behind this act of veneration.

The Communion of Saints

Saintly devotion is so central to Catholicism that it’s embedded, word for word, in the Apostle’s Creed – which sums up the core beliefs of all the faithful.

To explain the concept of praying to saints, you can start by introducing the idea of the communion of saints. This is a fundamental belief in Catholic theology that recognizes the interconnectedness of all members of the Church, whether they are living on Earth, in purgatory, or in heaven.

Catholics believe that canonized saints, who are individuals recognized by the Church for their exceptional holiness, continue to be a part of this communion even after death. When Catholics pray to saints, they are reaching out to these holy individuals, seeking their intercession and guidance in their relationship with God.

It should be noted: the Church teaches all people in heaven are saints. But some are officially designated as having lived lives of heroic Christian virtue and are thus worthy of imitation and veneration.

Intercession, not worship

It’s crucial to clarify that Catholics do not worship saints.

Worship is reserved exclusively for God. Instead, when Catholics pray to saints, we are asking for their prayers and intercession on our behalf.

Just as you might ask a friend or family member to pray for you during a difficult time, Catholics believe that saints can intercede on their behalf with God due to their closeness to Him.

By doing so, we express their belief in the power of prayer and the understanding that saints can empathize with our struggles.

Role models and inspiration

Another way to explain the practice of praying to saints is by highlighting the part they play as role models and sources of inspiration.
Saints are not just abstract figures from the past; they are individuals who led virtuous lives, faced challenges, and overcame them through their faith. Their stories can serve as a source of inspiration and guidance in our own spiritual journeys.

By praying to saints, we seek to emulate their virtues and gain their guidance in living a more Christ-like life.

Specialized intercessors

Catholics often pray to specific saints who are associated with particular concerns, professions or circumstances.

For example, St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items. St. Jude is known as the patron of desperate causes. St. Paul is patron of missions, writers and publishers. St. Thérèse of Lisieux is the patron saint of missionaries.

This personalized aspect of devotion to saints allows us to seek intercession for specific needs or challenges we may be facing.

The greatest saint

Mary holds a unique and revered position among all the saints. As the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, she has a role unlike that of any other saint. Mary’s significance can be understood in several ways:

  • Immaculate Conception: The dogma of the Immaculate Conception states that Mary was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception. She went on to live a life without sin, making her a pure and holy vessel chosen by God to bring His Son into the world.
  • Mother of God: Catholics believe that Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is both fully human and fully divine. This divine motherhood sets her apart and emphasizes her extraordinary closeness to God.
  •  Mother of the Church: At the crucifixion of Jesus, He entrusted Mary to His beloved disciple John and by extension to all believers. In this sense, Mary is seen as the spiritual mother of all Christians, representing the caring and intercessory role she plays in the life of the Church.

When Catholics refer to Mary as the greatest of all saints, it is in recognition of her exceptional virtues, her unwavering faith, and her pivotal role in the salvation narrative. Her “yes” to God’s plan at the Annunciation and her steadfast support for Jesus throughout His life are emblematic of her extraordinary holiness.

This status as the greatest saint is not meant to diminish the importance of other saints but to acknowledge her unique position as the Mother of Christ. Many saints’ holiness can be attributed in large part to their own Marian devotion.

Tradition and history

The veneration of saints has been a part of Catholicism for centuries, dating back to the early Church. The recognition of saints by the Church, their feast days, and the construction of churches and shrines in their honor are all rooted in a deep historical tradition.

This tradition provides a sense of continuity and connection with the Church’s historical roots, enhancing the spiritual experience for all Catholics.

How to Grow in Fellowship with the Saints 

  1. Pick a few saints that you want to get to know.
  2. Read their writings and learn about their lives. Fill your mind with their stories and their example.
  3. Talk to those saints, every day. Share your weaknesses with them and ask them to walk with you in your difficult times. Don’t just ask them to pray for you…invite them to be with you in every part of your life.

Beatification & Canonization

The process of declaring one a saint in the Catholic Church is called canonization. The canonization process is a canonical (Church law) procedure by which the Church through the Pope solemnly declares a Catholic to be united with God in heaven, an intercessory to God on behalf of the living, and worthy of public and universal veneration.

A cause of canonization examines a person’s life and death to determine if they were either martyred or lived a virtuous life. Every cause of canonization has two phases: the diocesan and Roman phase. The diocese responsible for opening a cause is the diocese in which the person died/was martyred. The diocese, religious order, association or lay person(s) requesting (petitioning) for the cause asks the diocesan bishop, through a person known as the postulator to open an investigation into the martyrdom or life of the person.

The diocesan bishop investigates how the person lived a heroic virtuous life, exemplifying the virtues of faith, hope and love through the calling of witnesses and the theological examination of the candidates’ writings. If the cause is based on martyrdom, the diocesan bishop investigates the circumstances surrounding the alleged martyrdom, which is also done through the calling of witnesses to the martyrdom and the examination of the candidates’ life.

Once the diocesan investigation is complete, the documentation (evidence) that has been collected is sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Roman phase begins. The first step in the Roman phase is the examination of the diocesan documentation. If the congregation’s theologians find the documentation convincing, it is sent for review by the cardinal and bishop members of the congregation. If they also find the documentation favorable, it is sent to the pope. With the pope’s approval a decree is issued stating that the person lived a virtuous life thereby conferring the title “Venerable”on the person.

The next step in the process is being named “Blessed.” For beatification, a miracle must be attributed to the Venerable. The miracle is verified through an examination by a team of medical experts and theologians. The three traditional standards for judging the authenticity of a miracle are: complete – meaning a total healing of the disease, it is not enough for the person to “just” feel better; instantaneous – meaning the healing occurred all at once and not over the course of several days or months; and durable – meaning the person remains permanently free from the illness that afflicted them. Once the miracle has been verified, the pope issues a decree declaring the miracle and the person receives the title of “Blessed.” The pope can dispense, though he does not always do so, from the requirement of a miracle for the beatification of a martyr.

A second miracle must be attributed to the Blessed in order for him or her to be canonized a saint. A proven miracle is required, even for martyrs, for canonization. The verification of the second miracle follows the same procedure as the first. Once the person is declared a saint, he or she is worthy of universal veneration by the Church.

There are many steps to be named a saint in the Church and the canonization process is lengthy and detailed. This process ensures that the role models held up as witnesses to Christ and the Gospel as worthy of our emulation.