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Misc. Saint Facts

Saints Section

St. Patrick

Misc. Saint Facts

Important Notice: Translation / wording may vary. Items herein may be partial. We may change punctuation, capitalization, shorten items, etc. We make no guarantee regarding any item herein. By using this site you indicate agreement to all terms. For terms information, click here.

Click link below or scroll down to view all:

Acta Martyrum

Acta Sanctorum

All Saints Day

Altars Named After Saints




Beatify - See 'Beatification'

Beatus / Beati

Biographies of Saints



Butler's Lives of Saints

Calendar Changes

Calendar of Saints


Canonization History

Canonize - See 'Canonization'


Churches Named After Saints

Common of the Saints

Communion of the Saints



Cult / Cultus

Depositio Martyrum

'Devil's Advocate'

Devotion to the Saints

Doctors of the Church



Examples of the Saints

Fathers of the Church

Feast Days


First American Born Saint

First American to be Canonized

First Canonized Non-Martyr

First Martyr

First Solemn Canonization

Founders of Religious Orders

Four Crowned Martyrs

Fourteen Holy Helpers

General Roman Calendar - See 'Calendar of Saints'

Golden Legend

Great Saints


Heroic Virtue

Holy Cards / Prayer Cards

Holy Helpers - See 'Fourteen Holy Helpers'

Honoring the Saints - See 'Honoring & Intercession of the Saints'

How is One Made a Saint?


Infallibility & Canonization

Intercession of Saints

Invocations of the Saints

Litany of the Saints (Prayers & Devotions Section)

'Living Saints'

Making of a Saint








Name Variations

Naming Children


Novenas to the Saints

Papal Saints

Patron Saint

People Named After Saints

Pillar Saints

Prayers of the Saints

Prayers to the Saints (Prayers & Devotions Section)

Praying to Saints

Promoter Fidei

Proper of the Saints

Queen of Saints



Requirements for Sainthood

Roman Martyrology

Saint / Sancti

Saints & Altars

Saints & Masses

Saints & Modern Scholarship

Saints as Our Friends

Saints Outside the Church?

Servant of God

Seven Holy Founders

Seven Sleepers of Ephesus


Ss. / Sts.


Stages in the Canonization Process




Suppressed Cult

Three Cappadocians


Treasury of Merits




Veneration of Images & Relics

Votive Mass

Votive Offerings

Vows of Religion

Worship of Saints

Writings of Saints


Also See...



Acta Martyrum

"(The Acts of the Martyrs) i. The official records of the trial and execution of martyrs. ii. Any account of their life and death written or purporting to be written by eyewitnesses or contemporaries, or founded upon such accounts. The value and degree of authenticity of the Acts of the Martyrs which have come down to us vary greatly" (Catholic Dictionary)

Acta Sanctorum

"The Acts of the Saints" (Lives of the Saints, published by the Bollandists) - A multi volume set created over hundreds of years. 

"[The Bollandists are an] association of ecclesiastical scholars engaged in editing the Acta Sanctorum. This work is a great hagiographical collection begun during the first years of the seventeenth century, and continued [for hundreds of years]. The collaborators are called Bollandists, as being successors of Bolland, the editor of the first volume." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "This monumental work has become the foundation of all investigation in hagiography and legend."

All Saints Day

"The feast (Nov. 1 in the Western church) on which are commemorated all the saints of God, canonized and uncanonized, known and unknown." (Catholic Dictionary)

Altars Named After Saints

Traditionally, every Catholic church had a consecrated altar which contained relics (corresponding to the early practice of celebrating Mass on the tombs of martyrs) and which had a title ("titulus") - usually corresponding to the name of the church (except side altars). 


Usually refers to the twelve men chosen by our Lord (click here) and headed by St. Peter, and also to St. Paul and to St. Matthias (who replaced Judas). However, this term may also refer and to others in the early Church and to missionaries (e.g. St. Patrick is called "the apostle of Ireland"). Note that not all apostles are saints [e.g. Judas, who was lost (see Jn. 17:12: "...none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled", Mt. 26:24 & Mk. 14:21: "...woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.")]. Today's bishops are the successors to the apostles, and the Pope is the successor to St. Peter.

Also See: Vatican View Section | Priests & Vocations Section


"Asceticism is self-discipline in all its forms, particularly those voluntarily undertaken out of love of God and desire for spiritual improvement; its meaning is sometimes improperly limited to corporal austerity. It may be internal discipline applied, to the mind, heart and will by purely internal effort, and at least a little of this is imposed on every Christian as a condition of salvation; or external, whether by the renunciations implied by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience...or by the various forms of bodily mortification and austerity directed to making and keeping the appetites conformed to right reason and God's law. Asceticism is an integral part of Christian life, having its sanction in our Lord's life...and teaching. It is not an end in itself, discomfort of mind or body for its own sake, but a means towards personal sanctification, freedom of soul, and approach to God; its higher forms are entirely voluntary and based on the distinction between precepts and counsels: it seeks first the Kingdom of God and so attains to fullness of life." (Catholic Dictionary) 


"Beatification is the process by which enquiry is made into the sanctity of a deceased person and, upon proof thereof, permission accorded for his public veneration; this is usually limited to a particular country, diocese, or religious order and does not extend, without special permission, to the display of his image in church or to a Mass and Office in his honour. Beatification generally, but not necessarily, leads to canonization" (Catholic Dictionary). Note that once an individual has been beatified, he or she is referred to as "Blessed" (abbreviated "Bl."). Also note that some beatifications are referred to as "virtual beatifications" (e.g. certain cases which deal with "immemorial public veneration" of a particular person).

"There are at present two ways in which the Church allows public worship to be paid those who have lived in the fame of sanctity or died as martyrs. Of these some are beatified, others are canonized... Beatification is a permission for public worship [dulia] restricted to certain places and to certain acts... The nature of beatification makes it evident that the worship of the blessed is restricted to certain places and persons, and may be given only after permission. Such permission is usually granted to those persons or places which have in some way been connected with the blessed. In the case of a religious, it is granted to the members of the order or congregation to which he belonged; if a canon of a church, that church or chapter receives the permission; if a martyr, a bishop, or resident of some place for a long period, the concession is made to the place of his martyrdom or to his see or to the place that he adorned with his virtues. In some cases the place of his birth or burial is included. And in all these instances it may be that the concession is made only to the mother church, or to the church in which his body lies, or it may be extended to the whole city or diocese... Beatification is an entirely different matter from canonization, and is but a step to it, being in no wise an irreformable decision of ecclesiastical authority." (Catholic Encyclopedia)


See Beatification

Beatus / Beati

Latin for "Blessed". "The official title of one who has been beatified (click here). Beatus is also the epithet commonly used of canonized saints in the liturgy [cf., the collects at (the traditional) Mass]." (Catholic Dictionary)

Biographies of Saints

Commonly called "lives of saints", these accounts of the saints' lives are interesting and inspiring stories which have long been recommend spiritual reading. The quality and readability of accounts may vary widely. Some accounts are critical, while others are uncritical collections (some of which may have suffered some embellishment over time). They provide good examples for Catholics and also provide important historical information. Although various details of some accounts may be based on myths or legends, one should not automatically assume that every event that seems unbelievable is not true (remember that nothing is impossible for God). One should also note that the term 'legend' may previously have included items that were not fictional.

Well-known "lives of the saints" include the Acta Sanctorum (click here), Butler's Lives of the Saints (click here), and the Golden Legend (click here).


Abbreviation for "Blessed" (scroll down or click here)


Refers to those who have been beatified (click here). 

Butler's Lives of Saints

A "monument of work and research" (Catholic Encyclopedia), this popular four volume set created by created by Alban Butler (d. 1773) took nearly 30 years to complete and was the "great work of his life". The collection is considered "monumental" and may be considered "one of the most revered books after the Bible". Butler's "Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints" contains numerous biographies of various saints, organized by date. This arrangement by date makes the work well-suited for daily spiritual reading.

Note: In recent years, at least one updated edition of this work has been released, still bearing the name "Butler". Newer versions have been charged with "destroying much of the beauty" of the original work. Note: Older editions (e.g. "pre-Thurston") may still be available. Contact an appropriate Catholic bookseller.

Calendar Changes

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, many changes were made to the liturgical calendar, including the elimination of numerous universal feasts (including highly popular feasts, feasts of popes, etc.). The old calendar is still in use, however, by traditional orders and in places where Masses are celebrated according to the old ('Tridentine') rite. For the location of such Masses, contact your bishop. For more information about the glorious traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass, click here. For feasts of the old and new calendar, try here.

Calendar of Saints 

Refers to the liturgical calendar in which each day of the liturgical year may be associated with one or more saint's feasts (and other holidays). In addition to the universal calendar (the "General Roman Calendar"), there may be various local calendars, especially in the earlier years of the Church. Note that the various calendars have grown and changed over the years, including drastic changes to the Roman Calendar in the wake of the Second Vatican Council (click here). Also note that not all feast days appear on the General Calendar. For liturgical feast days, try here. For feast days from the Roman Martyrology, try here.


"A public and official declaration of the heroic virtue of a person and the inclusion of his or her name in the canon (roll or register) of the saints." (Catholic Dictionary) This declaration is reserved to the pope and occurs after beatification (but not for all those beatified). Formal canonization may take centuries and may require miracles as heavenly testimony. 

"The Catholic Church canonizes or beatifies only those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue, and only after this has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments... [T]he Church seeing in the saints nothing more than friends and servants of God whose holy lives have made them worthy of His special love. She does not pretend to make gods" (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Canonization obliges that public honor be given the saint. Note that canonization does not "make" one a saint, but declares one to be a saint. Also note that not all saints are canonized (in fact some great saints were never formally canonized). In the past, the formal declaration - which occurs only after a strict, extensive investigation - has generally been considered to be infallible and irreversible. 

Note: Under Pope John Paul II, many changes to the canonization process were implemented, leading to an unprecedented number of canonizations. Although the changes have simplified the process and made it less expensive and faster, the changes have led some of the faithful to express concern over various aspects of the new procedures [e.g. elimination of the "devil's advocate", reduction of the waiting period (allowing the process to be conducted while 'emotions are high'), loosening of procedures, reduction in the number of required miracles, concerns over conflicts of interest, concerns over the elimination of unfavorable witnesses deemed "unsuitable", concerns over "political correctness" in the canonization process, concerns over "diminishing value of canonization" and that the large number of new saints turns the focus of the people away from the most important saints in the Church's history, concerns regarding "insufficient scrutiny", concern that the process is rushed, concern that evaluation of doctrinal orthodoxy of candidates for sainthood may receive insufficient consideration, concern that the waiting period is an insufficient amount of time for the "full truth" regarding individuals to come out (e.g. when the waiting period is 5 years instead of 50 years) and that the reduced waiting period no longer fosters an objective look at a person's life, concern that the process may not prevent factual errors, concern that the process has become politicized (e.g. using canonization to advance certain causes), concern over lost confidence in the process, concerns regarding the reduced role of the pope, and even some concern regarding the infallible nature of canonizations, etc.]

Canonization History

Although the veneration of saints traces from the earliest days of the Church, the process for naming particular individuals as saints has seen variation over the years. At first, 'canonizations' were informal. This practice, unfortunately, was sometimes subject to abuse. Later, certain matters were handled by the bishop. Eventually, a formal process was instituted, reserving much of the process to Rome. As stated by the Catholic Encyclopedia: "It must be obvious, however, that while private moral certainty of their sanctity and possession of heavenly glory may suffice for private veneration of the saints, it cannot suffice for public and common acts of that kind. No member of a social body may, independently of its authority, perform an act proper to that body. It follows naturally that for the public veneration of the saints the ecclesiastical authority of the pastors and rulers of the Church was constantly required. The Church had at heart, indeed, the honour of the martyrs, but she did not therefore grant liturgical honours indiscriminately to all those who had died for the Faith." (Catholic Encyclopedia) In recent years, under Pope John Paul II, the formal process has undergone extensive change (see above or click here), but the formal declaration of canonization still remains reserved to the pope.

Also See: Making of a Saint | Vatican View Section


See "Canonization"


"The preliminary enquiry and subsequent processes of beatification and canonization. A cause opens with an ordinary process under the bishop's jurisdiction in order to determine whether a sufficient case can be presented to the Roman authority" (Catholic Dictionary) During the process, there are various steps (e.g. an enquiry into the sanctity of the deceased person, examination of his or her writings, etc.), possibly leading to the beatification (click here) and, ultimately, canonization (click here) of the person.

Churches Named After Saints

Although Catholic churches are always dedicated to God alone, they are often dedicated to God in honor of a saint. The particular saint's name may be chosen due to possession of the saint's relics, special devotion to the saint by the founder of the church, the saint's labors in the area, etc. This practice may be traced back to the earliest days of Christianity, where Masses were said on the tombs of saints.

Common of the Saints

"A division of the [traditional] Missal and Breviary in which are found masses and Offices for all those saints who have not special ones assigned to them, or who have only certain parts proper; the rest is then supplied from the common. It is divided into various classes" (Catholic Dictionary)

Communion of the Saints

"The communion of saints means the union which exists between the members of the Church on earth (the Church Militant) with one another, and with the blessed in heaven (the Church Triumphant) and with the suffering souls in purgatory (the Church Suffering)." (Baltimore Catechism)

The saints really are "our friends in heaven". They do not cease to have charity for us because they are in heaven, rather they are "bound to us by love". In fact, if anything, they are even more willing and able to help us now that they are "before the throne of eternal Goodness". Not only do they want to help us, but they are close to God and have influence with Him. God enables them to hear our prayers and their intercession has been felt by countless people, even in the most extraordinary ways. Of course they are not gods and have no power of their own, but all is done through Christ. 

Critics who argue that the saints are "dead" should consider that Jesus spoke with Elijah and Moses many years after their lives on earth ended (Mt. 17:3), that Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Jesus in paradise after their deaths (Lk. 23:43), that the souls of the just are in the hand of God (Wisdom 3:1), that He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive (Lk. 20:38), and that Scripture shows us that saints are most assuredly alive and aware of what transpires on earth (see Rv. 6:9-11)

Clearly, the saints are alive, and before God. They care for us, they understand us, they have faced trials, they want our good, and they can be trusted. History is an unfailing witness that they really, truly do aid us. Be sure to regularly ask for their intercession.

Also See: Honoring & Intercession of the Saints | Communion of the Saints (Reflections)


May refer to those who suffered for the faith or to certain saints who were not martyrs.


When saints share a patronage, they may be called co-patrons - for example: Sts. Cyril & Methodius (brothers) are co-patrons of Europe.

Cult / Cultus

"Cult, Cultus, in a general sense is equivalent to worship, adoration, veneration. But it is generally used with particular reference to the hyperdulia accorded to our Lady, the dulia given to the saints and the relative dulia to their relics, to pictures, etc... The word is cognate with 'cultivation'... and derives ultimately from Latin colere, to till." (Catholic Dictionary)

Depositio Martyrum 

Ancient Roman calendar containing the feasts of the martyrs.

'Devil's Advocate'

"Advocatus Diaboli [Latin for 'Advocate of the Devil' or 'Devil's Advocate'] - A popular title given to one of the most important officers of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, established in 1587, by [Pope] Sixtus V, to deal juridically with processes of beatification and canonization. His official title is Promoter of the Faith (Promotor Fidei). His duty [traditionally required] him to prepare in writing all possible arguments, even at times seemingly slight, against the raising of any one to the honours of the altar. The interest and honour of the Church are concerned in preventing any one from receiving those honours whose death is not juridically proved to have been 'precious in the sight of God' ... [Traditionally], No important act in the process of beatification or canonization is valid unless performed in the presence of the Promoter of the Faith formally recognized. His duty is to protest against the omission of the forms laid down, and to insist upon the consideration of any objection. The first formal mention of such an officer is found in the canonization of St. Lawrence Justinian under [Pope] Leo X (1513-21). [Pope] Urban VIII, in 1631, made his presence necessary, at least by deputy, for the validity of any act connected with the process of beatification or canonization." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Traditionally, the 'Devil's Advocate' would seek to "prevent any rash decisions concerning miracles or virtues of the candidates for the honours of the altar. All documents of beatification and canonization processes must be submitted to his examination, and the difficulties and doubts he raises over the virtues and miracles are laid before the congregation and must be satisfactorily answered before any further steps can be taken in the processes. It is his duty to suggest natural explanations for alleged miracles, and even to bring forward human and selfish motives for deeds that have been accounted heroic virtues... Owing to his peculiar duty of antagonizing the proofs put forward on behalf of persons proposed for saintly honours, the Promoter of the Faith is commonly referred to, half jocosely, as the devil's advocate." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Note that the "devil's advocate" might argue that miracles are fraudulent, he might question various motives, he might look for "holes in evidence", etc. In general, his actions helped secure the integrity of the canonization process. Note: The "Devil's Advocate" was eliminated under Pope John Paul II (click here for more information). 

Devotion to the Saints

"Devotions, popular, are spontaneous pious movements of the Christian body towards this or that aspect of the faith, sanctified individual or historical event, approved by authority and usually expressed in authorized vernacular formulas and observances. They are very numerous" (Catholic Dictionary).

Devotion to the Saints may include: chaplets, prayers, novenas, medals, statues, etc. Note: Click here for prayers to the saints, click here for information on devotions/sacramentals.

Doctors of the Church 

"An ecclesiastical writer, noted both for the greatness of his learning and the holiness of his life, whose feast has been extended to the whole Western church with a Mass and Office either of his own or of the common of Doctors" (Catholic Dictionary)

"Doctors of the Church (Lat. Doctores Ecclesiae) - Certain ecclesiastical writers have received this title on account of the great advantage the whole Church has derived from their doctrine... The requisite conditions are enumerated as three: eminens doctrina, insignis vitae sanctitas, Ecclesiae declaratio (i.e. eminent learning, a high degree of sanctity, and proclamation by the Church). Benedict XIV explains the third as a declaration by the supreme pontiff or by a general council... The decree is issued by the Congregation of Sacred Rites and approved by the pope, after a careful examination, if necessary, of the saint's writings. It is not in any way an ex cathedra decision, nor does it even amount to a declaration that no error is to be found in the teaching of the Doctor. It is, indeed, well known that the very greatest of them are not wholly immune from error." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Click here for a list of the Doctors of the Church.

Additional Notes: 

* The "four Doctors" of the Western Church are St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome while the "four doctors" of the Eastern Church are St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, and St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Athanasius. Note that this refers to those with early pre-eminence.

* Pope Paul VI declared the first female Doctors of the Church in 1970 (St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena). Pope John Paul II declared St. Thérèse of Lisieux a doctor of the Church in 1997. Pope Benedict XVI declared St. Hildegard of Bingen a doctor of the Church in 2012


"The reverence and homage paid to saints and angels on account of their supernatural excellence and union with God. To be distinguished from the adoration of God (latria) and the special honor paid to Mary (hyperdulia)." (Catholic Dictionary)

"Dulia (Greek doulia; Lat. servitus), a theological term signifying the honour paid to the saints, while latria means worship given to God alone, and hyperdulia the veneration offered to the Blessed Virgin Mary... Catholic theologians insist that the difference is one of kind and not merely of degree; dulia and latria being as far apart as are the creature and the Creator... A further distinction is made between dulia in the absolute sense, the honour paid to persons, and dulia in the relative sense, the honour paid to inanimate objects, such as images and relics. With regard to the saints, dulia includes veneration and invocation; the former being the honour paid directly to them, the latter having primarily in view the petitioner's advantage." (Catholic Encyclopedia)


A particular image associated with a person in a pictorial representation. For example: a lily for St. Joseph, a cross for St. Helena, a dove for St. Gregory, etc. Note that one saint may have various emblems and that many saints may share one emblem (e.g. a palm for martyrs). Emblems may relate to an event in the saint's life, to a certain characteristic of the saint, etc.

Examples of the Saints

The examples of the saints inspire us, help "form us in virtue", and are "living images of the Gospel". Written account of their lives, biographies called "Lives of the Saints" (click here), have been widely praised as excellent, profitable spiritual reading.

Fathers of the Church

May refer to the early Christian writers (e.g. from the first six to twelve centuries) whose writings are considered "worthy of respect". Their unanimous agreement on a particular point of doctrine is of special value. Although their writings are important, they are not all orthodox and free from error. Not all Fathers of the Church are saints (in fact, at least one was excommunicated). Note that the Fathers are often categorized as Eastern Fathers & Western Fathers. Those who lived very near to apostolic times may be called Apostolic Fathers.

Feast Days

"Feast Days, or Holy Days, are days which are celebrated in commemoration of the sacred mysteries and events recorded in the history of our redemption, in memory of the Virgin Mother of Christ, or of His apostles, martyrs, and saints, by special services and rest from work. A feast not only commemorates an event or person, but also serves to excite the spiritual life by reminding us of the event it commemorates... The succession of these seasons form the ecclesiastical year, in which the feasts of Our Lord form the ground and framework, the feasts of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints the ornamental tracery." (Catholic Encyclopedia) Note that feast days have been celebrated since the earliest days of the Church, especially on the anniversary of a saint's death. Also note that each saint has a feast, even if it is not celebrated liturgically. Note: For liturgical feast days, try here. For feast days from the Roman Martyrology, try here. For Marian feast days, click here.


"A special day set apart for the liturgical commemoration of the Holy Trinity, of some event or mystery in the life of saints, or of some other event of religious importance." (Catholic Dictionary)

For liturgical feast days, try here. For feast days from the Roman Martyrology, try here. For Marian feast days, click here.

First American Born Saint 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first American born person to be canonized.

First American to be Canonized

St. Francis Xavier Cabrini was the first American (U.S.) citizen to be canonized.

First Canonized Non-Martyr

St. Martin of Tours was the first non-martyred saint to be honored by the whole Church. 

First Martyr

"The first martyr to give his life for Christ was St. Stephen the Deacon (Acts vii, 54-9)" (Catholic Dictionary) He is called "Protomartyr". Note: This refers to the period after the death of Christ. The Holy Innocents and John the Baptist are also venerated as martyrs.

First Solemn Canonization 

The first known, solemn canonization was of St. Ulrich in 993 by Pope John XV.

Founders of Religious Orders

Some popular religious orders named after, or founded by, saints include:

Augustinians - Named after St. Augustine

Benedictines - Named after St. Benedict

Dominicans (Order of Preachers) - Founded by St. Dominic

Franciscans (Order of Friars Minor) - Founded by St. Francis of Assisi

Jesuits (Society of Jesus) - Founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola

Salesians - Named after St. Francis de Sales (founded by St. John Bosco)

Servites (Order of Servants of Mary) - Founded by the Seven Holy Founders (canonized saints)

Four Crowned Martyrs 

Referred to as the "Four Holy Crowned Ones", these martyrs were killed at the beginning of the fourth century, but their names were unknown.

Fourteen Holy Helpers

Refers to a popular devotion in which fourteen saints are invoked against many troubles and by those of various occupations. Their traditional feast day is August 8. These saints may be invoked individually or collectively. They have been considered to be "especially efficacious" in their assistance. 

The fourteen holy helpers are: St. George, St. Blaise, St. Erasmus, St. Pantaleon, St. Vitus, St. Christopher, St. Dionysius, St. Cyriacus, St. Achatius, St. Eustace, St. Giles, St. Margaret, St. Catharine, and St. Barbara.

Note: The feast of the Fourteen Holy Helpers was suppressed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960's.

General Roman Calendar

See 'Calendar of Saints'

Golden Legend

Refers to a highly popular, classic collection of stories of the saints from the middle ages.

Great Saints

"Great Saints" include: St. Albert the Great, St. Basil the Great, Pope St. Gregory the Great, and Pope St. Leo the Great. Others sometimes called "the great" include: St. Gertrude the Great and Pope St. Nicholas the Great.


"The name given to that branch of learning which has the saints and their worship [veneration] for its object." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Heroic Virtue

"[H]eroic a habit of good conduct that has become a second nature, a new motive power stronger than all corresponding inborn inclinations, capable of rendering easy a series of acts each of which, for the ordinary man, would be beset with very great, if not insurmountable, difficlties. Such a degree of virtue belongs only to souls already purified from all attachment to things worldly, and solidly anchored in the love of God." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

"The virtue of Christian heroes, of those who lived as saints or who achieved heroism in the moment of death by martyrdom. It implies an unusual control of the insurgent passions, and a promptitude and facility in well-doing which are above the common. According to [Pope] Benedict XIV, for the manifestation of heroic virtue the matter must be difficult, so as to demand spiritual energy above the ordinary and the practice must be prompt, unhesitating, joyful, enthusiastic and habitual. St. Thomas brings the heroic virtues under the gifts of the Holy Ghost." (Catholic Dictionary) 

Holy Cards / Prayer Cards

Small cards with an image of our Lord, of our Lady, of the saints, or of other holy persons (e.g. Blesseds, Venerables). They may contain a prayer or other information on the reverse side. Catholic prayer cards are often given out at funerals (providing the name and dates of the deceased on the reverse).

Holy Helpers

See "Fourteen Holy Helpers"

Honoring the Saints

Click Here for 'Honoring & Intercession of the Saints'

How is One Made a Saint?

As indicated above, one is "declared" a saint rather than "made" a saint. The process leading up to this declaration involves various steps (e.g. introduction of the cause, investigation, beatification, etc.). The process may be initiated locally (with the bishop), but the final decision resides with the pope.

Also See: Canonization | Beatification | Stages in the Canonization Process


The "Worship of Hyperdulia" is a technical term referring to the highest degree of veneration allowed to a creature. It is paid to the Blessed Virgin Mary alone. This special homage paid to the Blessed Virgin is not to be confused with the "Worship of Latria" (given to God alone), but is more closely related to the "Worship of Dulia" (and is in fact a higher form of dulia), the veneration due to the angels and saints. Mary, of course, is the greatest creature of all, surpassing all the angels and saints.

Also See: Dulia

Infallibility & Canonization

In the past, canonizations - which occur only after a strict, extensive investigation - have generally been considered to be infallible and irreversible. As stated in the Catholic Encyclopedia (early 20th century): "Is the pope infallible in issuing a decree of canonization? Most theologians answer in the affirmative. It is the opinion of St. Antoninus, Melchior Cano, Suarez, Bellarmine, Bañez, Vasquez, and, among the canonists, of Gonzales Tellez, Fagnanus, Schmalzgrüber, Barbosa, Reiffenstül, Covarruvias (Variar. resol., I, x, no 13), Albitius (De Inconstantiâ in fide, xi, no 205), Petra (Comm. in Const. Apost., I, in notes to Const. I, Alex., III, no 17 sqq.), Joannes a S. Thomâ (on II-II, Q. I, disp. 9, a. 2), Silvester (Summa, s. v. Canonizatio), Del Bene (De Officio Inquisit. II, dub. 253), and many others. In Quodlib. IX, a. 16, St. Thomas says: Since the honour we pay the saints is in a certain sense a profession of faith, i.e., a belief in the glory of the Saints [quâ sanctorum gloriam credimus] we must piously believe that in this matter also the judgment of the Church is not liable to error.. These words of St. Thomas, as is evident from the authorities just cited, all favouring a positive infallibility, have been interpreted by his school in favour of papal infallibility in the matter of canonization, and this interpretation is supported by several other passages... This infallibility, however according to the holy doctor, is only a point of pious belief. Theologians generally agree as to the fact of papal infallibility in this matter of canonization, but disagree as to the quality of certitude due to a papal decree in such matter... This general agreement of theologians as to papal infallibility in canonization must not be extended to beatification... Canonists and theologians generally deny the infallible character of decrees of beatification, whether formal or equivalent, since it is always a permission, not a command; while it leads to canonization, it is not the last step." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Since this time, many changes to the canonization process were implemented, leading to an unprecedented number of canonizations. Although the changes have simplified the process and made it less expensive and faster, the changes have led some of the faithful to express a number of concerns over the new procedures (click here for more information), and have even led some to express concern regarding the infallible nature of modern canonizations.

Intercession of Saints 

Refers to the saints' intercession with God on our behalf, generally in response to prayers. In many cases throughout history, this intercession has been manifested in a miraculous manner.

Also See: Communion of the Saints | Praying to Saints | Honoring & Intercession of the Saints

Invocations of the Saints

"Invocation means calling upon another for help or protection, particularly when we are in need or danger. It is used specially with regard to calling upon God or the saints, and hence it means prayer." (Baltimore Catechism)

Also See: Communion of the Saints | Praying to Saints | Honoring & Intercession of the Saints

Litany of the Saints 

Click here for 'Litany of the Saints' (Prayers & Devotions Section

'Living Saints'

This term is often applied spontaneously - and with very little, or incomplete, knowledge - to persons who are apparently holy. Considering that all living persons are subject to falling (some so-called 'living saints' have fallen quite publicly) and that sometimes appearances are deceptive, the use of this term can be unfitting. Usually is expressed as a person's opinion (and that often ironically considering that the same person might rush to correct another person who expressed a negative opinion that they "shouldn't judge others"). Of course, all saints were once living and one cannot be formally declared a saint until after one's death - and this is reserved to the Pope.

Note: In the early Church, all Christians (that is, Catholics), were called "saints". Since then, however, the term has acquired a more limited meaning.

Continued on Next Page

Also See... 

Saints (Reflections)

Prayers to Saints / Prayers in Honor of the Saints

Prayers of the Saints

Honoring & Intercession of the Saints

Liturgical Feasts

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'Saintly Reference': Table of Saints - Based on the Roman Martyrology (Pre-1970)

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