Saints are very popular and are widely known as something associated with the Catholic Church. Have you ever wondered if are all saints Catholic and if the concept of saints is only solely for the Catholic Church? Let’s find out!
Misconceptions about How Catholics View Saints
One of the most common misconceptions about saint worship is that we Catholics consider them to have divine status. However, this could not be further from the truth. The Catholic Church teaches that saints are not divine beings but rather human beings who have died and been granted eternal life with God. We believe that saints are holy men and women who lived exemplary lives on earth and are now in heaven, where they continue to intercede for us and help us on our spiritual journey.
Another misconception is that Catholics worship saints in the same way that we worship God. This is also untrue. We Catholics do not worship saints; rather, we honor them as models of faith, hope, and love. We ask for their prayers and intercession, but we do not worship them. Worship is reserved for God alone, and we Catholics are very clear about this distinction.
What is the Meaning of Saints for Catholics?
Now that we have cleared up some misconceptions about saint worship, let’s look at the reality of this practice. Catholics honor saints because we believe that they are part of the communion of saints, which includes all the faithful who have died and gone to heaven. We also believe that saints are models of holiness and that they can inspire us to live virtuous lives. When we honor saints, we are not elevating them to divine status, but rather expressing our gratitude for the example they set and asking for their prayers and intercession.
Another important aspect of saint worship is that it helps us to remember our connection to the universal Church. Saints come from all walks of life, and their stories remind us that holiness is not reserved for a select few. By honoring saints, we are also acknowledging the diversity of religious practices within the Catholic Church and the different ways that people express their faith.
Are All Saints Catholic?
No, not all saints are Catholic. While the majority of saints recognized by the Catholic Church are indeed Catholic, there are also saints who belong to other Christian denominations or who lived before the Church was formally established. For example, the Eastern Orthodox Church venerates many saints who are not recognized by the Catholic Church, and there are also many saints who lived before the Great Schism of 1054, which divided the Church into Eastern and Western branches.
It’s also worth noting that there are many saints who are recognized by the Catholic Church but who are not exclusively Catholic. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas is a Catholic saint, but his writings have also been influential in Protestant and Orthodox theology. Likewise, St. Francis of Assisi is a Catholic saint, but his message of poverty and simplicity has resonated with people of all faiths.
The Canonization Process
The process of canonization is a lengthy and rigorous one. It typically begins with a grassroots movement to recognize a person as a saint, usually sparked by the person’s exemplary life and the miracles attributed to their intercession. This movement is then investigated by the local bishop, who gathers evidence and testimony about the person’s life and virtues. If the bishop finds that there is sufficient evidence, the case is sent to the Vatican for further review.
At the Vatican, a team of theologians and historians examines the evidence and makes a recommendation to the Pope. If the pope agrees that the person was a model of holiness and virtue, he may declare them “blessed,” which means that they can be venerated in a limited way. If further miracles are attributed to their intercession, the Pope may declare them a saint, which means that they can be venerated by the entire Church.
How to Start a Devotion to Saints
If you’re interested in learning more about Catholic saints and you’d like to start a devotion, we highly encourage you to talk to a local priest or attend a Mass at your nearest Catholic Church. You might also consider reading books or articles about the lives of saints or you can start a novena on the saints that you’re interested to know more about. One of our favorite Novena sites is Pray More Novenas, because they have a ton of novenas in their novena library, that you can easily access and sign up for free email novena alerts.
Whatever path you choose, may your spiritual journey be blessed, and may you find inspiration in the lives of the saints!