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Saints 101

Everything you need to know about saints in the Catholic Church


One thing that unites the Catholic Church to the Eastern Orthodox Churches and separates it from most Protestant denominations is the devotion to the saints, those holy men and women who have lived exemplary Christian lives. Many Christians--even Catholics--misunderstand this devotion, which is based on our belief that, just as our life does not end with death, so too our relationships with our fellow members of the Body of Christ continue after their deaths. This Communion of Saints is so important that it is an article of faith in all Christian creeds, from the time of the Apostles' Creed.

What Is a Saint?

Saints, broadly speaking, are those who follow Jesus Christ and live their lives according to his teaching. Catholics, however, also use the term narrowly to refer to especially holy men and women who, through extraordinary lives of virtue, have already entered Heaven.

Why Do Catholics Pray to Saints?

Like all Christians, Catholics believe in life after death, but they also believe that our relationship with other Christians does not end with death. Catholic prayer to saints is a recognition of this communion.

Patron Saints

Few practices of the Catholic Church are so misunderstood today as devotion to patron saints. From the earliest days of the Church, groups of the faithful (families, parishes, regions, countries) have chosen a particularly holy person who has passed on to intercede for them with God.

The Doctors of the Church

The Doctors of the Church are great saints known for their defense and explanation of the truths of the Catholic Faith. There are 33 Doctors of the Church, covering all eras in Church history.

The Litany of the Saints

The Litany of the Saints is one of the oldest prayers in continuous use in the Catholic Church. Most commonly recited on All Saints Day, the Litany of the Saints is an excellent prayer for use throughout the year, drawing us more fully into the Communion of Saints.

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