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.
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.
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 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.