Patron Saint Origin

Does anyone know where the idea of patron saints came from? A staunch anti-Catholic said that it came from Constantine. Any good rebuttal?

I don’t know anything about the history of patron saints, but just wanted to point out: if this person is making the claim that Constantine came up with the idea, then it’s his job to provide evidence for his claim. It’s not your job to refute it.

Thank you for the response. I am aware that he has the burden of proof. However, I was just wondering if anyone knew for sure.

[quote=]When did the Church start honoring saints?
By the year 100 A.D., Christians were honoring other Christians who had died, and asking for their intercession. Many people think that honoring saints was something the Church set up later, but it was part of Christianity from the very beginning. As a matter of fact, this practice came from a long-standing tradition in the Jewish faith of honoring prophets and holy people with shrines. The first saints were martyrs, people who had given up their lives for the Faith in the persecution of Christians.

I am aware of two pre-Constantine sources who speak of patron saints. One is St. Methodius of Olympus. In 305 A.D., before Constantine came to power, he wrote this prayer to St. Simeon:

305 A.D. - St. Methodius of Olympus - “O honoured and venerable Simeon, you earliest host of our holy religion, and teacher of the resurrection of the faithful, be our patron and advocate with that Saviour God, whom you were deemed worthy to receive into your arms.” (Oration on Simeon and Anna Chapter 14)

The other is St. Irenaeus:

180 A.D. - St. Irenaeus - “[Eve] did disobey God, yet [Mary] was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness of the virgin Eve.” (Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 19)

If you include the Bible, the following passages have been used to defend the practice of invoking certain saints for particular places or circumstances:

Luke 19:17-19 - "And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ … ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

James 5:10-11 - “As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

Ruth 4:11-12 - “May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you prosper in Eph′rathah and be renowned in Bethlehem; and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the children that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

The passages that mention guardian angels are also relevant to this issue, because your guardian angel is your patron, and there are also verses which indicate that certain angels are set over certain cities. Daniel 12:1 and Acts 12:15 come to mind in this regard, but there are many others.

Then I’m sure your “staunch anti-Catholic” can prove that.

FYI, the word “patron” is the English(well, technically the French co-opted into English).

Patronus, Pater, Patris are the Latin. In other words, “father”. There are oodles of references to the saints as our “fathers” in faith in pre Nicean writing.

Your friend is most likely referring to the institution of pilgrimages and shrines, which are attributed to his mother, Saint Helena.
She travelled with his soldiers to the Holy Land and various places. After that many people visited these locations, wanting to see them and pray there. Souvenirs soon developed, people wearing crucifixes and the like. They wanted to bring a bit of something home to others who could not make the trip.
Sort of a “patronage” effect.
He could be thinking about this time in history and not stating it very clearly as to what he means. :shrug:

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