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Misc. Saint Facts (Cont.)

Saints Section

St. Patrick

Misc. Saint Facts (Cont.)

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.

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Making of a Saint

Strictly speaking, the Church does not "make" someone a saint, but merely declares them to be one. This is called canonization (click here). This process is composed of various steps and requires investigation of the person's life. It may also require heavenly confirmation by way of miracle(s). Such miracles offer proof that the individual is in Heaven and can intercede for us. Note: For more information on miracles, try here. The process leading to canonization generally begins - after a certain period of time has passed (the "waiting period) - at the diocesan level, with the opening of a cause (click here), and ultimately proceeds to Rome, if so warranted. Once an individual (a "Servant of God") reaches a certain stage in the process, he or she is called "Blessed" (click here). Finally, the individual, may be declared a saint by the Pope (click here). Note that not all persons considered for canonization will be canonized.

Note that the true 'making of a saint' is the work of a lifetime. It necessitates the grace of God and the individual's own efforts. To be a saint, one must meet various 'requirements for Sainthood' (click here), including the exercise 'heroic virtue' (click here). Remember that it matters not how one starts out, but how one ends up. Although there are many saints with sainted relatives [mothers (and other relatives) may be true, but hidden, 'makers of saints'], persons may be saints in spite of their family situation.


Voluntary endurance of a martyr's death.

Also See: Martyrs


"A list for every day of the year of martyrs and other saints whose feasts or commemorations occur on each day, generally with a brief note about each individual. It may be local and proper to a district or religious order or it may aim at being general by the combination and collation of several local martyrologies: such is the Roman Martyrology. Feasts of our Lord and of our Lady are also included." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Roman Martyrology


Refers to one who "seals his testimony of the Christian [Catholic] faith with his blood." Note that the term 'martyr' is generally reserved for those who actually die for the faith, whereas those who suffer (but do not die) for the faith, may be called 'confessors'. Although many were martyred in the earliest days of the Church, there are still martyrs in our own time giving their lives up for the faith. As shown in the Roman Martyrology, martyrs - including men, women, and children - have courageously suffered the most cruel tortures, even beyond description, for the faith.

Also See: First Martyr | Martyrology | Acta Martyrum | Martyrs / Martyrdom (Reflections)


"A flat metal disk bearing a religious image, of our Lord, our Lady or one of the other saints, a shrine, a mystery of religion, etc. They are worn on the person as one carries about a photograph or other relic of one dear, and must be regarded in the same way as any other image: they are mere signs of the prototypes to which due honour is accorded; in themselves they can have no efficacy, to look on them as mascots is superstitious. The efficacy consists in the blessing of the Church calling down the goodness of God on the wearer, and sometimes in indulgences attached thereto. There are innumerable different medals; the chief are the medal of St. Benedict, the scapular medal, and the miraculous medal." (Catholic Dictionary)

Holy medals should be blessed by a priest.

Also See: Sacramentals (Prayers & Devotions Section) | Veneration of Images & Relics


One or more miracles may be required in the canonization process. Such miracles offer proof that the individual is in Heaven and can intercede for us. Miracles may be defined as: "An effect wrought in nature directly by God. It is not necessarily a breach of the laws of nature, or even a suspension of these laws, but an effect wrought independently of natural powers and laws and of such a character that man reasonably concludes that God himself, who alone is above and beyond nature, is the immediate and direct cause of the effect, without having acted as normally through the series of intermediate causes we call nature... Christ promised the continuance of miracles in his church and the Catholic Church has always and does now display them and will always do so. Though a Catholic is bound to accept this principle as a matter of faith, the miraculous character of each individual occurrence must be settled by the evidence. Hence no individual miracles, except those mentioned in Holy Scripture, are of faith." (Catholic Dictionary)

As stated in the Catholic Encyclopedia, "A miracle is a factor in the Providence of God over men. Hence the glory of God and the good of men are the primary or supreme ends of every miracle. This is clearly expressed by Christ in the raising of Lazarus (John 11), and the Evangelist says that Jesus, in working His first miracle at Cana, 'manifested his glory' (John 2:11). Therefore the miracle must be worthy the holiness, goodness, and justice of God, and conducive to the true good of men. Hence they are not performed by God to repair physical defects in His creation, nor are they intended to produce, nor do they produce, disorder or discord; nor do they contain any element which is wicked, ridiculous, useless, or unmeaning. Hence they are not on the same plane with mere wonders, tricks, works of ingenuity, or magic. The efficacy, usefulness, purpose of the work and the manner of performing it clearly show that it must be ascribed to Divine power. This high standing and dignity of the miracle is shown, e.g., in the miracles of Moses (Exodus 7-10), of Elias (1 Kings 18:21-38), of Eliseus (2 Kings 5). The multitudes glorified God at the cure of the paralytic (Matthew 9:8), of the blind man (Luke 18:43), at the miracles of Christ in general (Matthew 15:31, Luke 19:37), as at the cure of the lame man by St. Peter (Acts 4:21). Hence miracles are signs of the supernatural world and our connection with it. In miracles we can always distinguish secondary ends, subordinate, however, to the primary ends. Thus they are evidences attesting and confirming the truth of a Divine mission, or of a doctrine of faith or morals, e.g., Moses (Exodus 4), Elias (1 Kings 17:24). For this reason the Jews see in Christ 'the prophet' (John 6:14), in whom 'God hath visited his people' (Luke 7:16). Hence the disciples believed in Him (John 2:11) and Nicodemus (John 3:2) and the man born blind (John 9:38), and the many who had seen the raising of Lazarus (John 11:45). Jesus constantly appealed to His 'works' to prove that He was sent by God and that He is the Son of God, e.g., to the Disciples of John (Matthew 11:4), to the Jews (John 10:37). He claims that His miracles are a greater testimony than the testimony of John (John 5:36), condemns those who will not believe (John 15:24), as He praises those who do (John 17:8), and exhibits miracles as the signs of the True Faith (Mark 16:17). The Apostles appeal to miracles as the confirmation of Christ's Divinity and mission (John 20:31; Acts 10:38), and St. Paul counts them as the signs of his Apostleship (2 Corinthians 12:12). Miracles are wrought to attest true sanctity. Thus, e.g., God defends Moses (Numbers 12), Elias (2 Kings 1), Eliseus (2 Kings 13). Hence the testimony of the man born blind (John 9:30 sqq.) and the official processes in the canonization of saints."

Note that miracles may be granted through the agency of saints (e.g. as the result of prayer or after contact with relics) and that various saints who have worked miracles during their lives may be called "thaumaturgi" (or wonderworkers). Miracles have ranged from more simple acts to bilocation (being in more than one place at the same time) and the raising of the dead. True miracles have been well-documented, well-proven, and have even withstood intense scientific analysis. In Scripture, we see that not only did Jesus perform miracles, but he said that his followers would perform even greater works than he did (see Jn. 14:12 ). We see miracles associated with God's servants both in the New Testament and in the Old Testament. Not only do such miracles serve to help prove the Christian (that is, Catholic) religion, but they also attest to a person's sanctity and are generally required for canonization. Note: Of course, miracles performed by saints are not due to the saint's power, but they are simply the blessed instruments that God uses. 

Also See: Miracles (Good News Reflections)


Concerned with a more intimate knowledge and contemplation of God. It is not brought about by one's own intelligence, but by grace. It is available only to a few privileged souls in this life. "To some souls...even in the present life, God gives a very special grace by which they are enabled to feel His sensible presence; this is true mystical contemplation. In this act, there is no annihilation or absorption of the creature into God, but God becomes intimately present to the created mind and thus, enlightened by special illuminations, contemplates with ineffable joy the Divine essence." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

"[T]he vision of God is the work of grace and the reward of eternal life; in the present life only a few souls, by a special grace, can reach it." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

One must be careful to note that this gift is given to a small number of souls - where as there are many false mystics, especially today.


"The celebration of the feast day of the saint of one's name instead of, or in addition to, one's own proper birthday." (Catholic Dictionary) This practice has been followed by Catholics in various regions.

Name Variations

Saint names may have multiple variations. Often the difference is due to translation (e.g. from translation into Latin, from translation from the native to the vernacular tongue, etc.). Variations may also arise when the person changed their name (e.g. upon entering a religious order) or when they (or their relics) have moved, or when a name appears in a shortened form. Some saints may also be known by descriptive titles (e.g. Cure de Ars, Seraphic Doctor, etc.) or by names that were 'assigned' to them [e.g. when their true names were not known, or for other special reasons - e.g. Veronica (for "true image")]. Also, since multiple saints may share an identical name, additional information may be added to the name to avoid confusion. In some cases, there may be more than one accepted spelling. In other cases, saints names may be unknown (e.g. saints included in the Martyrology as "& companions").

Naming Children

It is customary for Catholics to name their children after saints. Parents may name their children based on the date their child was born or baptized, or after any saint. Note that persons should be given a saint's name at Baptism and they should also take a saint's name at Confirmation.

Also See: People Named After Saints | Baptism (Sacraments Section) | Confirmation (Sacraments Section)


"(Lat. dies natalis, birthday, anniversary). A word used in Latin liturgies for the day on which a saint's feast is kept, [generally] the anniversary of his death." (Catholic Dictionary)

Novenas to the Saints 

Novenas refer to prayers said (generally) over a period of nine days for a particular request or on a particular occasion.

Note: Click here for some novenas (Prayers & Devotions Section)

Papal Saints

Beginning with St. Peter, a number of popes are listed as saints. Not all popes, however, are considered saints. In fact, at the end of the 20th century, the last two canonized popes were Pope St. Pius V (16th century) and Pope St. Pius X (20th century). For more information on papal saints, click here (Vatican View Section)

Patron Saint

"One chosen as its special advocate with God and to receive special honour by a place (country, diocese, province, city, village) or by an association, religious or lay, in according with Catholic teaching that angels and saints have special spheres of activity and tasks of love. The choice must be confirmed by the Holy See, whose special indult is required to choose one who is only beatified; there may be a principal and a lesser patron, but a mystery of religion cannot be a patron in the proper sense. Trades, professions, occupations, states of life, etc., also have their patron saint, usually by ancient tradition, as are those of places in old Christian countries. It is a common practice for an individual to take as a patron the saint whose name is assumed at Confirmation; he puts himself under his protection, studies his life and seeks to profit by his example. The patron saint of a church gives his name thereto, whence he is technically called its titular." (Catholic Dictionary)

"A patron is one who has been assigned by a venerable tradition, or chosen by election, as a special intercessor with God and the proper advocate of a particular locality, and is honoured by clergy and people with a special form of religious observance. The term 'patron', being wider in its meaning than that of 'titular', may be applied to a church, a district, a country, or a corporation. The word 'titular' is applied only to the patron of a church or institution. Both the one and the other, according to the legislation now in force [early 20th century], must have the rank of a canonized saint." (Catholic Encyclopedia) 

Patron saints may have a special connection with the location / trade / profession / illness / etc. of their patronage, or their patronage may derive from longstanding custom / popular devotion, the saint's special care or experience with a particular circumstance / place / etc., or their patronage may even be based on a "play on words". Note that patronages may vary by times and locations and that one saint may have multiple patronages. Also note that trades / locations / illnesses / etc. may have multiple patrons. Catholics should also have selected patron saints, corresponding to the names given at birth, baptism, and confirmation (click here for more information).

Also See: Churches Named After Saints | Saints | Patron Saints Index

People Named After Saints

It is customary for Catholics to be named after saints. Also, Catholics should be given a saint's name at Baptism and they should also take a saint's name at Confirmation. Those saints are considered special patrons and they may be expected to intercede for those after which they are named. Note that changing of names is also symbolic of the biblical practice of name changes corresponding to important transformations in the lives of certain persons (e.g. Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul, etc.).

Also See: Naming Children | Baptism (Sacraments Section) | Confirmation (Sacraments Section)

Pillar Saints

Refers to saints who lived on top of a pillar (or tower). Prominent stylite saints have included Simeon the Younger & Daniel the Stylite. This practice has been called an "extreme mortification" which "balanced the extreme sensuality of the people among whom they lived"

Also See: Stylite

Prayers of the Saints 

Click here for 'Prayers of the Saints'

Prayers to the Saints 

Click here for 'Prayers to the Saints' (Prayers & Devotions Section)

Also See: Praying to Saints

Praying to Saints

Prayer is simply a means of "spiritual communication". Just as when the saints were living on earth they could pray for us, they can pray for us now that they are in heaven. We can ask for their assistance through our prayers. Although we do not believe they have any power of themselves and we do not worship them as God (or gods), we do believe their prayers are very efficacious with God. By invoking the saints, we honor them and show great respect for God. As stated in the Baltimore Catechism, "We do not slight God Himself by addressing our prayers to saints, but, on the contrary, show a greater respect for His majesty and sanctity, acknowledging, by our prayers to the saints, that we are unworthy to address Him for ourselves, and that we, therefore, ask His holy friends to obtain for us what we ourselves are not worthy to ask." Note: For more on this topic, try here.

Promoter Fidei 

Traditionally, the Promotor Fidei ("Promoter of the Faith"), popularly called the "Devil's Advocate", performed various functions in the beatification / canonization processes. Click here for more information on the "Devil's Advocate".

Proper of the Saints

"The division of the (traditional) Missal and the Breviary in which is given those parts of the Mass and Office proper to certain feasts of our Lord and of our Lady and of the saints." (Catholic Dictionary)

Queen of Saints 

Refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Also See: Mary, Our Mother Section


Relics (from the Latin "reliquiae", "remains") refer to parts of a saint's body (or the body as a whole), clothing, and other items connected with a saint. They may be classified as first class, second class, etc. depending upon the contact they had with the saint (for example: 1st class - e.g. parts of bodies, second class - e.g. garments, third class - e.g. items touched to first or second class relics). Traditionally, all altars were required to have relics. This practice corresponds with the practice of the early Church in which Masses were said on the tombs of the saints, and with Holy Scripture where the saints are seen to be under the altar (see Rv. 6:9)

Note that relics have been associated with numerous miracles. We can see in the Old Testament that contact with the bones of Elisha restored a man to life (2 Kings 13:21). In the New Testament, we see that cloths which touched St. Paul were associated with miracles (Acts 19:11-12). In the early Church, relics of the martyrs were highly prized and sought after and the practice of building altars over their relics was common (including the basilica of St. Peter in Rome). Miracles often occurred as the result of the intercession of these departed brothers and sisters. Note: Of course, the relics have no power of themselves, but they may be used by God as instruments.

Also See: Veneration of Images & Relics | Saints & Altars | Altars (Church Talk Reflections) | Relics (Church Talk Reflections)


Vessel in which relics are kept.

Requirements for Sainthood

To be a canonized saint, one must live holily*, display "heroic virtue", be Catholic, deceased, and declared a saint by the Catholic Church. This process is known as Canonization. For more information on canonization, click here.

* Note: "Those recognized as saints by the Church may not have started out holy, but all ended up holy."

Roman Martyrology

Refers to a listing of thousands of saints venerated by the Universal [Catholic] Church. The listing is arranged by date and generally gives brief details about the life or death (especially in cases of martyrs) of each saint. For a listing of names and feasts based on the Roman Martyrology, click here.

Note: A new martyrology was issued in 2001, with an update in 2004.

Saint / Sancti

"Saint [Latin - sancti/sanctus: consecrated, holy]. i. One whose holiness of life and heroic virtue have been confirmed and recognized by the Church's official processes of beatification and canonization, or by the continued existence of an approved cultus and feast. To such only may public veneration and liturgical honour be given; but the Church also produces numerous other saints who remain unknown and unrecognized (cf., the feast of All Saints, whereon these are also honoured)... [T]he departed saints have not simply ethical significance as patterns of virtuous life, but also religious significance as living and functioning members of the Mystical Body of Christ, who by prayer are in vital contact with the Church militant (on earth) and suffering (in Purgatory). The canonized saints form a microcosm of the Church; among them are to be found representatives of all forms of human life, activity and temperament. They manifest exteriorly the hidden life of our Lord whom they have hidden in their hearts; the inner man being filled with his spirit, exterior and corresponding action flows from it as from its true source." (Catholic Dictionary)

Saints may considered "models of holiness", "extraordinary manifestations of holiness", "gifts bestowed on us by God", "a testimony of the holiness of the Church", etc. They provide us with excellent example and may be considered our friends in heaven. They may be from all walks of life (bishops, widows, virgins, martyrs, priests, lay persons, kings, beggars, tradesmen, housewives, single persons, etc.) and may be of any age, from infants (e.g. the Holy Innocents) to those over 100 years old (click here for "Sr. Saints"). Not all holy persons, however, even those who are "extraordinarily holy", will be canonized a saint.

Note that while the New Testament commonly uses the term "saint" to refer to all Christians (that is, Catholics) in general, even those living, the term has since acquired a more limited meaning - e.g. to those canonized by the Pope (or 'equivalently canonized', including the angels). However, strictly speaking, "whoever is saved is a saint". Further, the fact that a person is canonized does not mean that everything he or she did was good / perfect / free from error / etc. Rather, it recognizes their display of heroic virtue (click here) and holds them out as examples or models to be followed. Their lives are very often inspiring and can help us to become more holy.

There are now thousands of canonized saints. In fact, it is impossible to exactly count the number of saints (not all saints are named, as with the cases of "Saint --- and companions"). It may be said, however, that there is an "unbroken line of saints since Christ", which demonstrates the holiness of Christ's Church. These saints are powerful intercessors with God and He frequently bestows them with generous gifts. As we can read in Lives of the Saints (click here), they have been associated with countless miracles (click here), including healings, conversions, bilocation, stigmata, raising from the dead, etc.

Due to their special concern, healing work, location of their work or death, etc, some saints are designated as patron saints and are therefore recommended to us as special protectors over various localities, occupations, sicknesses, countries, etc. These saints may serve as our special advocates with God due to a demonstrated devotion to or concern for a particular a cause, or, as indicated above, patron saints may also be chosen due to the presence of relics, special healing work, location of their work or death, or other causes. Note: For more on patron saints, click here. To view the Patron Saints Index, click here

Some saints are also declared 'Doctors of the Church' due to their distinguished learning and exceptional holiness. For additional information on Doctors of the Church, try here.

The process in which a person is declared a saint by the Church is called canonization (click here for more information). This declaration means that the person is in heaven and may intercede with God on our behalf. Before being declared a saint, the individual's life is subject to a thorough review and miracles may be required as proof of sainthood. Once canonized, the individual is to be honored by the Church with the worship of dulia (click here). The honoring of the saints dates back from the earliest days of Christianity where Christians (that is, Catholics) honored Christian martyrs, and even celebrated Masses on their tombs, especially on the anniversary of their deaths. Special days in which particular saints are honored are called feast days (click here). These feast days help form the liturgical year. 

As stated by Pope Pius XII: "In the course of the liturgical year, besides the mysteries of Jesus Christ, the feasts of the saints are celebrated. Even though these feasts are of a lower and subordinate order, the Church always strives to put before the faithful examples of sanctity in order to move them to cultivate in themselves the virtues of the divine Redeemer. We should imitate the virtues of the saints just as they imitated Christ, for in their virtues there shines forth under different aspects the splendor of Jesus Christ. Among some of these saints the zeal of the apostolate stood out, in others courage prevailed even to the shedding of blood, constant vigilance marked others out as they kept watch for the divine Redeemer, while in others the virginal purity of soul was resplendent and their modesty revealed the beauty of Christian humility; there burned in all of them the fire of charity towards God and their neighbor. The sacred liturgy puts all these gems of sanctity before us so that we may consider them for our salvation, and 'rejoicing at their merits, we may be inflamed by their example.' It is necessary, then, to practice 'in simplicity innocence, in charity concord, in humility modesty, diligence in government, readiness in helping those who labor, mercy in serving the poor, in defending truth constancy, in the strict maintenance of discipline justice, so that nothing may be wanting in us of the virtues which have been proposed for our imitation. These are the footprints left by the saints in their journey homeward, that guided by them we might follow them into glory.' In order that we may be helped by our senses, also, the Church wishes that images of the saints be displayed in our churches, always, however, with the same intention 'that we imitate the virtues of those whose images we venerate.' But there is another reason why the Christian people should honor the saints in heaven, namely, to implore their help and 'that we be aided by the pleadings of those whose praise is our delight.' Hence, it is easy to understand why the sacred liturgy provides us with many different prayers to invoke the intercession of the saints." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei" 1947, A.D.) 

It should be carefully noted that each person is called to be a saint - in fact God very much wants each of us to be counted as a saint. In fact, He gave His life so that we might be saints. All persons, without exception. should aspire to become a saint. In fact, this should be the most important goal of each person's life. By the grace of God, one may become a saint without regard to his or her race, sex, physical characteristics, age, etc. Even one's background, past sins, or intelligence do not prevent one from becoming a saint. Becoming a saint doesn't mean that one has to be absolutely perfect, and it doesn't happen overnight. Becoming a saint requires much grace, effort, and self-sacrifice. Although much work is required (in addition, of course, to God's grace), what can compare to the joy received as one becomes increasingly wrapped in God's virtue and increases one's love of God? To pursue sainthood, individuals should frequently partake of the sacraments and prayer, engage in good spiritual reading, follow Christ's and His saints' examples, invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary & the saints, perform acts of self sacrifice and charity, etc. Persons should also take advantage of all the Church has to offer in order to attain and increase in virtue (the Holy Rosary, proven devotions, good spiritual direction, etc.). Each should pick up his or her cross and work towards being a saint each moment of life. 

"Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us." (Phil. 3:17)

Also See: Requirements for Sainthood | Saints Outside the Church?

Saints & Altars 

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). 

Also See: Altars (Church Talk Reflections) | Relics

Saints & Masses

Tracing back to the earliest days of Christianity, when Mass was celebrated on the tombs of martyrs and anniversary Masses were celebrated on the day of a saint's death, Masses are often offered to God in thanksgiving for a particular saint. It should be noted that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not offered up to the saint, but to God alone in thanksgiving for the saint. As stated by the Council of Trent: "And though the Church has been accustomed to celebrate some Masses now and then in honor and in memory of the saints, yet she does not teach that the sacrifice is offered to them, but to God alone, who has crowned them. Thence the priest is not accustomed to say: 'I offer sacrifice to you, Peter and Paul,' but giving thanks to God for their victories, he implores their patronage, so that 'they themselves may deign to intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we celebrate on earth'." The Masses may be especially helpful in gaining the saint's intercession.

Also See: Calendar of Saints | Holy Eucharist / Mass (Sacraments Section)

Saints & Modern Scholarship

Modern scholarship with regards to the saints may tend to discount everything it cannot prove and question everything that seems out of the ordinary or 'fantastic'. Even well-verified miracles are may be stripped of their supernatural elements by some modern scholars. While it is true that there may be some embellishments in various historical accounts of the saints, it is also true that miraculous events really have occurred (remember that nothing is impossible for God). Further, the times in which ancient accounts were written were simpler - and the people had strong faith - so the collection of "iron clad proof" may not have been paramount. In any case, it is clear that previous generations read - with great profit - the fascinating and inspiring stories of the lives of saints that many modern scholars might simply wish to discard.

Also See: Miracles

Saints as Our Friends

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

Also See: Communion of the Saints

Saints Outside the Church?

There cannot be saints outside the Church for various reasons, including:

* As the Church has always maintained, there is no salvation outside the Church. As the Council of Florence states: "[The Holy Roman Catholic Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart 'into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." (Council of Florence, c. 1441 A.D.) [Denzinger 714]

* The Church alone has the means of salvation. To imply that a non-Catholic is a saint would imply that there is another means of salvation available to those outside the Church, which is contrary to Scripture and to the constant teaching of the Church.

* Objectively speaking, heresy and schism are sins. St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church says, "In that He says that the bundles of tares are to be cast into the fire (Mt. 13:30), and the wheat gathered into barns, it is clear that heretics also and hypocrites are to be consumed in the fires of hell, while the saints who are here represented by the wheat are received into the barns, that is into heavenly mansions." For more reflections regarding heresy / schism, click here. Many of the true saints lost their lives fighting against paganism, heresy and schism. To honor pagans / heretics / schismatics as role models would be an affront to such saints (not to mention God). And to put the relics of a non-Catholics in altars next to true saints is unthinkable. 

* Saints are to be models for imitation, whereas non-Catholics cannot be good spiritual role models for Catholics' imitation

* Saints are not to live in ways contrary to the Catholic faith or morals, and clearly non-Catholics are living contrary to the faith and are therefore likely to participate in actions / behaviors which are contrary to morals (since one's religion affects one's behavior).

* Frankly, it seems ridiculous to think that the Church should declare those who reject her to be 'saints'.

Further, it must be noted that true saints profess the true faith, are mortified, humble, practice heroic virtue, and are often accompanied by miracles (which may be required for canonization).  

Although a non-Catholic may appear to be a "good person", being a good person - even a "really good person" is not good enough. Such persons reject the Body of Christ - the Church (Col. 1:24) - and reject Christ's representative, the pope, and they also (most likely) reject the true Flesh & Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, as well as other Catholic dogmas. We know that Jesus Himself set down conditions for salvation, which must be followed to be saved. We must also remember that Jesus let those who wouldn't accept his teachings walk away (Jn. 6:66) - He certainly did not hold them out as saints! 

Despite the above, however, some of other faiths fancy (and even declare) that that certain of their members are saints. The Church cannot force them not to believe such folly, but she can remind that only in the true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church - which has the keys to heaven and earth - can saints truly be found.

Also See: Heresy / Heretics & Schism / Schismatics (Coming Home Reflections) | Do All "Good People" Go To Heaven? / No Salvation Outside the Church

Servant of God

A title given to persons whose cause for canonization reaches a certain stage. Informally, the term may be used to refer to living persons who serve God.

Seven Holy Founders

Founders of the order of the Servants of Mary (the Servites):

St. Buonfiglio Monaldo (Bonfilius)

St. Alexis Falconieri

St. Bartholomew Amidei

St. Benedict dell' Antella

St. Gerardino Sostegni

St. John Buonagiunta

St. Ricovero Uguccione (Hugh)

Seven Sleepers of Ephesus

Refers to a early story regarding soon to be martyred Christians who were walled in during persecutions and who were later - many years later - awoken, alive, and thinking they had been asleep only a short time.


May refer to a holy place of pilgrimage (especially tombs of saints) or to a sacred image to which special veneration is given (usually accompanied by candles, flowers, etc.). Note that "Any place which is known or reputed to be the tomb of a saint is referred to as his shrine, irrespective of the degree of devotion attaching to it" (Catholic Dictionary)

Ss. / Sts.

Abbreviations for Saints (plural) (click here)


Abbreviation for Saint (click here)

Stages in the Canonization Process

There are various stages in the canonization process, which generally begins at the diocesan level, with the opening of a cause (click here). Usually this occurs after a certain time has elapsed (a "waiting period"). The steps in the process may vary, depending upon whether the person was a martyr or not. The process generally involves an investigation, an examination of the person's writings, and may require one or more miracles (click here). As the cause progresses, the individual may be called by various titles (e.g. Servant of God, Blessed), until he or she is declared a saint by the Pope (canonization). Note that not all persons whose cause for canonization has been introduced will be canonized. For more information regarding canonization, click here.


Three dimensional images (e.g. of saints). They may be large or small.

Also See: Veneration of Images & Relics | Sacred Art / Images (Church Talk Reflections)


Refers to a person marked with the stigmata (wounds corresponding Christ's wounds). They may be invisible or visible, periodic or continual. They involve great suffering.

The first known, authentic stigmatist was St. Francis of Assisi. The first priest to bear the stigmata was St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio). Female saints have also had the stigmata. 

Note: Not all stigmatists are saints, and some persons have been shown to fake the stigmata.


"One who lived on top of a pillar." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Pillar Saints

Suppressed Cult

May refer to the suppression of a feast from the liturgical calendar. Note that such suppressions do not necessarily apply to the entire Church. For example, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, many changes were made to the liturgical calendar, including the elimination of numerous universal feasts. 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.

Three Cappadocians

Refers to three Fathers of the Church who were natives of Cappadocia: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Gregory of Nyssa. Note that St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa were brothers.


May refer to the transferring of a saint's relics from one place to another or to the transference of a feast from one date to another.

Treasury of Merits

"The superabundant store of the merits and satisfactions of Christ, which were beyond the needs of our salvation, to which are added the excess of the merits and satisfactions of our Lady and the saints. It is from this treasury that the Church grants indulgences." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Indulgences (Prayers & Devotions Section)


Abbreviation for Venerable (click here)


Refers to a traditional form of address proceeding the stage of Blessed (click here).


Veneration refers to the honor paid to saints or to their relics. We know that the saints are worthy of honor, that they are close to God, and that they make intercession for us. Those outside the Church often argue against the veneration of saints; they often distort the Church's teachings, ignore history, and fail to realize that God commands us to honor certain persons, and that God Himself honors certain persons. In any event, it is hard to imagine that the good God would take offense that His closest friends receive honor! Faithful Catholics simply honor the saints in heaven as they would honor, say, St. Paul, with his great holiness and miraculous power from God, if he was to stand in front of them. Saints are not worshipped as God (or gods), but rather as God's friends, and great examples for imitation. By venerating them, we are showing gratitude to God for the benefits which we have received from them and are ultimately honoring God himself. As stated in the Baltimore Catechism: "This first Commandment does not forbid the honoring of the saints, but rather approves of it, because by honoring the saints, who are the chosen friends of God, we honor God himself." 

Also See: Dulia | Honoring & Intercession of the Saints

Veneration of Images & Relics

It is natural to honor that which belongs to our beloved departed. In the case of relics of the saints, we can see that they have been venerated since the earliest days of the Church. We can also see clearly that God often honors the relics by performing miracles through them.

Faithful Catholics venerate relics - or 'worship' them with a degree of dulia (click here) - but they do not worship them with the 'worship of latria', which is due to God alone (to do so would be idolatry). They may pray in the presence of relics (or images), but they do not pray to the relics (or images).

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "The teaching of the Catholic Church with regard to the veneration of relics is summed up in a decree of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV)... The justification of Catholic practice, which is indirectly suggested here by the reference to the bodies of the saints as formerly temples of the Holy Ghost and as destined hereafter to be eternally glorified, is further developed in the authoritative 'Roman Catechism' drawn up at the instance of the same council. Recalling the marvels witnessed at the tombs of the martyrs...the Catechism points out that these are facts which 'St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, most unexceptionable witnesses, declare in their writings that they have not merely heard and read about, as many did but have seen with their own eyes ', (Ambrose Epist. xxii, nn. 2 and 17, Augustine, Serm. cclxxxvi, c.v.; 'De Civ. Dei', xxii, S, 'Confess.', ix). And from thence, turning to Scriptural analogies, the compilers further argue: 'If the clothes, the kerchiefs (Acts 19:12), if the shadow of the saints (Acts 5:15), before they departed from this life, banished diseases and restored strength, who will have the hardihood to deny that God wonderfully works the same by the sacred ashes, the bones, and other relics of the saints? This is the lesson we have to learn from that dead body which, having been accidentally let down into the sepulchre of Eliseus, 'when it had touched the bones of the Prophet, instantly came to life' (2 Kings 13:21, and cf. Sirach 48:14). We may add that this miracle as well as the veneration shown to the bones of Moses (See Exodus 13:19 and Joshua 24:32) only gain additional force from their apparent contradiction to the ceremonial laws against defilement, of which we read in Num., xix, 11-22. The influence of this Jewish shrinking from contact with the dead so far lingered on that it was found necessary in the 'Apostolical Constitutions' (vi, 30) to issue a strong warning against it and to argue in favour of the Christian cult of relics."

"Moreover, that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints, are to be had and retained particularly in [churches], and that due honour and veneration are to be given them; not that any divinity, or virtue, is believed to be in them, on account of which they are to be worshipped; or that anything is to be asked of them; or, that trust is to be reposed in images, as was of old done by the Gentiles who placed their hope in idols; but because the honour which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which those images represent; in such wise that by the images which we kiss, and before which we uncover the head, and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ; and we venerate the saints, whose similitude they bear: as, by the decrees of Councils, and especially of the second Synod of Nicaea, has been defined against the opponents of images. And the bishops shall carefully teach this, that, by means of the histories of the mysteries of our Redemption, portrayed by paintings or other representations, the people is instructed, and confirmed in (the habit of) remembering, and continually revolving in mind the articles of faith; as also that great profit is derived from all sacred images, not only because the people are thereby admonished of the benefits and gifts bestowed upon them by Christ, but also because the miracles which God has performed by means of the saints, and their salutary examples, are set before the eyes of the faithful; that so they may give God thanks for those things; may order their own lives and manners in imitation of the saints; and may be excited to adore and love God, and to cultivate piety. But if any one shall teach, or entertain sentiments, contrary to these decrees; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

Also See: Relics | Sacred Images / Veneration of Images (Church Talk Reflections)

Votive Mass

"A Mass differing from that of the feast or office of the day, celebrated for a special intention as directed by authority or because the circumstances require it (e.g. a nuptial or funeral Mass) or simply at the choice of the priest." (Catholic Dictionary)

Votive Offerings

"Anything offered to God or a saint, as a sign of gratitude or act of veneration, sometimes in discharge of a vow or promise. Such an offering is usually set up in or offered at a shrine or before an image and may be any object from a valuable jewel to a penny candle... So to make offerings is one of the universal natural religious instincts of mankind and therefore has its place in the worship of the Catholic Church." (Catholic Dictionary)

Vows of Religion

Many canonized saints have taken vows. Vows refer to promises made to God (e.g. poverty, chastity, obedience, etc.). Vows may be public (e.g. the vows of monks and nuns) or private, solemn or simple, personal or real. For more regarding vows, try here (Priests & Vocations Section).

Worship of Saints

Technically speaking, there are three types of "worship" - dulia, hyperdulia, latria. The worship of latria is reserved to God alone, while the worship of hyperdulia is given to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The saints are given the worship of "dulia". For more information regarding dulia, click here. Note that the term "worship" with regard to the saints does not mean that they are worshipped as God (or gods), rather it may be more closely likened to the honor that we see is paid to angels and men in Holy Scripture (e.g. Josh 5:13ff; Dan 8:15ff, Jdth.15, Sirach 44ff, Isa. 49:23, Rom. 13:7, 1 Tm. 5:17)

Writings of Saints

Try "Reflections" for writings of the saints


According to Tradition, the Three Magi (or Wise Men or Kings) who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were named: Caspar (or Gaspar), Melchior, Balthasar.

Tradition tells us that the Samaritan woman whom Jesus talked to by the well was named Photina (she was martyred and her feast is 3/20).

According to Tradition, the woman who wiped Jesus' face on the way to Calvary is named St. Veronica (from the Latin for "True Image"). It is believed that she was first known by the name Seraphia.

According to Tradition, the 'good thief' to whom Christ promised heaven while on the cross, is named St. Dismas. One account tells that Dismas (while still a thief) helped the Holy Family as they fled to Egypt.

According to Tradition, the soldier who pierced the side of the crucified Jesus and then recognized Him as the Son of God is named St. Longinus.

First Martyr of the Apostolic College: St. James

Only Apostle not martyred (although it was attempted): St. John. Note that St. John, "the one whom Jesus loved" was also the only apostle present at the crucifixion and the one to whom Jesus entrusted his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

'Santa Claus' originated from St. Nicholas of Bari (feast day 12/6).

The use of a red cross in the service of one's neighbor originated with St. Camillus de Lellis many years before his emblem was assumed by a Protestant.

Various Catholic holidays relating to the saints commonly appear even on the secular calendar - (e.g. St. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day)

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