Article Info

published: 2/12/05
updted: 1/13/13

Related Book

Oxford Dictionary of Saints

David H. Farmer, ed.

Related books

Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

Cross & Livingstone

Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis

Introduction to Christianity

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

Christian Theology

Alister McGrath

Christian Beliefs

Wayne Grudem

Catechism of the Catholic Church

U.S. Catholic Church

A Summary of Christian History

Robert Andrew Baker

Jesus Among Other Gods

Ravi Zacharias

Honoring the Saints

Sainthood in Christianity

The concept of saints is common to all branches of Christianity. The Apostle's Creed, affirmed by all Christian denominations, states belief in the "communion of saints." In Christian doctrine, the term "saints" refers to all deceased persons who are now in heaven.

When it comes to rituals and practices related to the saints, however, there are significant differences between Christian denominations. Protestants generally make little to no mention of the saints in worship and have no rituals related to the saints.

Lutherans and Episcopalians do name churches after particular saints and recognize some saints' days, but they do not canonize saints or emphasize the intercession of saints. For most Protestants, great Christians of history are people to be admired and emulated, but not called upon in prayer.

Saints in Catholicism and Orthodoxy

By contrast, saints play a prominent role in the rituals of Roman Catholicand Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Both branches canonize saints, recognize saints' feast days, name churches after saints, display icons and statues of saints, and pray to saints to intercede for them before God.

This set of practices is sometimes called the "cult of the saints" (not in the sense of a sect, but in the sense of the Latin word cultus, worship). In both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, the Virgin Mary is the preeminent saint.

  • Canonization: Deciding Who's a Saint

    Complete guide to the process of identifying deceased Christians as saints in the Orthodox and Catholic churches, including a list of who Pope John Paul II has canonized.

  • Intercession of the Saints

    Discussion of the practice of calling on the saints for help, its biblical basis, and Protestant objections.

  • Veneration of the Saints

    Forms of devotion to the saints in Cathoilcism and Orthodoxy, including icons, litanies and feast days, as well as Protestant objections to the practice.

Recommended for You

More on Christianity

More Religious Practices

World Religions - Main pages

Christian beliefs

Christian denominations

Christian fast facts

Christian history

Christian holidays

Christian biographies

Christian practices

Christian symbols


Bahai practices

Buddhism practices

Chinese religion practices

Hinduism practices

Islam practices

Jainism practices

Jehovah's Witnesses practices

Judaism practices

Mormonism practices

Rastafari practices






Jehovah's Witnesses