Praying to Saints

I know this topic has probably been done to death but there is one thing I can’t seem to find.

Is there any Biblical text where a living person prays to a dead person? I am dialoging with someone who is not Catholic. Here is their question:

“We are instructed to pray FOR one another, not TO one another. The other thing ignored is this: there are absolutely NO EXAMPLES WHATSOEVER in Scripture where the saints prayed to any of their predecessors: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, major or minor prophets, or in the New Testaments martyrs such as John the Baptist or Stephen.”

What is the earliest church father who advocating ‘praying’ to saints?

I could sure use some help with this one.

There is a lot that can be brought to bare on this topic so please be patient with the length of my response. In presenting a case for heavenly intercession of the saints, it is important to look at the Old Testament for clues and data. We are all aware that it is forbidden in the OT to be involved in occult practices such as necromancy, conjuring the dead etc. Curiously, however, we do see an instance in the OT where it was apparently permitted by God. That example appears when Saul seeks out the medium of Endor in order to communicate with the deceased prophet Samuel[1 Sam 28: 1-19].

In that passage we learn a couple of things about the “dead” that have been frequently denied by our non-Catholic brethren. First of all, they are apprarently not “dead” to us in the sense that non-Catholics contend. Secondly, Samuel speaks with Saul and it is quite obvious that Samuel not only knows what has been going on, but he also tells Saul that,

“the Lord will give Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.[verse 19]"***

It was no coincidence that the prophecy came true just as Samuel articulated it.

That passage does not give permission to conjure up the dead, and the Catholic Church condemns such things. Moreover, that kind of thing is completely different from intercessory prayer. What it does do, however, is show that the holy ones are not oblivious to what is going on here on earth. We see in the book of Revelation the same kind of knowledge in that the martyrs under the altar know that God has not yet avenged their deaths[Rev 6:9-10]. Likewise, everything that John sees in Revelation is something being experienced and seen by the angels and saints. That includes all of the punishments and actions taken by God and the activities of the Christians, and the principalities and powers described therein. They know and see everything that John saw and probably even more since his vision is of short duration while they are now permanently in eternity.

There is a very interesting passage in the OT involving Caleb being sent out by Moses to spy out the land in the “Negeb and the hill country”. He and his companions were to later return and report what they found concerning the people in that territory. On the trek they went to Hebron[Numbers 13:22].

The burial place of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is located in Hebron and there is a lot of Jewish tradition surrounding that location. According to the Midrash, the Patriarchs are said not to be dead but “sleeping”. They rise to beg mercy for their children throughout the generations. Likewise, Jews have traditionally gone to that and other sites to pray. They are said not to be “praying to the patriarchs”, but that they pray that the prayers of the patriarchs will be joined to their prayers. Jewish tradition says that Caleb’s stop in Hebron was a bit of a detour and it is believed that he and his group of scouts went there to pray at the graves of the forefathers. Jews still go to Hebron to pray at the grave sites and also go to the graves of their loved ones with the same kind of intention. Jews will also pilgrimage to other known holy places to pray. The thinking is that these holy places will enhance their prayers. You can read about this stuff with a google search just as I did.

Jewish funeral traditions are also indicators of the Jewish roots of intercessory prayer. The following is from an article called the The taharah, funeral and burial and can be found at It says:

“On the most basic level, the Levayah (“accompaniment”–the funeral procession), in which we accompany the body to its resting place, is a show of respect to the deceased. The Hebrew word levayah also indicates “joining” and “bonding.” Even as we mourn a soul’s departure from manifest connection with our own physical existence, we understand that what binds our souls together–the fundamental Divine essence that all souls share–is far more powerful than the changes wrought by death. We and the deceased remain bonded–living souls all. By participating in the levayah we provide comfort to the soul as it undergoes this very difficult transition from one life to another, as the presence of our souls emphasizes the bonds that transcend this change.”

Notice how close this is to Catholic prayer practices and the ideas surrounding them. The similarities clearly show the roots of intercessory prayer.

The New World Encyclopedia in an article entitled *“Cave of the Patriarchs” *says this:

“There is a Jewish tradition that praying at the Tomb will bring good fortune in finding a proper spouse. There are Hebrew prayers of supplication for marriage on the walls of the Sarah cenotaph.”

Some of this kind of thought/belief may have been influenced(a guess on my part) by an incident in the OT where we have a spectacular example of intercession that involved the deceased Elisha. Scripture describes it this way:

2 Kings 13:20-21
So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. As a man was being buried, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha; as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he came to life and stood on his feet.

cont. on next post

cont. from prior post:

So what else can we learn about the subject of saintly intercession from the OT?

The Catholic Church has what we believe to be the complete set of scriptural books. Even the original 1611 version of the King James Version of the bible contained the Deuterocanonical books in a separate section. Moreover, there was a punishment of one year in prison if any of the bibles were printed without those additional books. They were at that time thought to be worthy reading even if Protestants did not consider them to be inspired. At the very least we get an insight into what the Jews believed in the old covenant.

Interestingly enough, in 2 Macc 15:11-16 we see an example of a heavenly saint interceding for those on earth. Moreover, heavenly saint is given praise. It says the following:

Having armed each one of them not so much with the safety given by shield and lance as with that confidence which springs from noble language, he encouraged them all by describing to them a convincing dream, a vision, as it were. What he had seen was this: Onias, the former high priest, that paragon of men, modest of bearing and gentle of manners, suitably eloquent and trained from boyhood in the practice of every virtue, Onias was stretching out his hands and praying for the whole Jewish community. Next, there appeared a man equally remarkable for his great age and dignity and invested with a marvellous and impressive air of majesty. Onias began to speak: “This is a man”, he said, “who loves his brothers and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God.” Jeremiah then stretched out his right hand and presented Judas with a golden sword, saying as he gave it, `Take this holy sword as a gift from God; with it you will shatter the enemy."

Please note that Judas Maccabeus is a Jewish hero and the “Feast of Lights”(a.k.a. Hanukah) recalls the struggle for religious freedom and commemorates the victory of the Jews, under his leadership, over the Hellenistic Syrians in the year 165 B.C.E. Even Jesus celebrated this Jewish holiday as he observed all of the jewish customs and holidays. If Jesus didn’t endorse this holiday and the actions and narratives concerning the Maccabees surely he would have said so, especially since he and the apostles largely quote from the Greek Septuagint which included the Maccabees.

What I have rendered thus far is a body of OT scriptures that show the Jewish OT roots of intercession by the heavenly saints. Clearly, the situation is not identical to what we see in the Catholic understanding of prayers for intercession made by the heavenly saints. It is important to note a couple of things, however, that do emerge from that discussion. One is that the OT scriptural evidence and the Jewish traditions lean heavily toward Catholic teaching and they do not support non-Catholic teaching on this subject.

The second thing is that we would typically expect Christian thought to differ from Jewish belief in at least the following way. Christians have a greater revelation of Divine truth than do the Jews. Moreover, even though it is clear from the above discussion that the Jews had and still have a sense of connection between living and dead souls, they really do not have the Christian concept of the “communion of saints.” That term is, of course, found in the Apostle’s Creed and most Christians regardless of denomination accept and profess belief in the Apostle’s Creed. Unfortunately, non-Catholic Christians rarely think about what the term “communion of saints” has always meant within Christianity.

That term is a product of the New Testament witness describing us as the “body of Christ.” Moreover, scripture tells us a lot about what that means and scripture also says that love is stronger than death and that nothing will separate us from Jesus[see Romans 8:35-39]. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Even in death we are still in the vine, we are the body of Christ, and part of the communion of saints. In that, the Church, unlike the Jews has the advantage of seeing what the Jews cannot see. The OT Jews were not in the body of Christ as we are on this side of the cross. Likewise, the dead saints all resided in the “bosom of Abraham” and were not in the presence of God or the risen Christ. That all changed with the resurrection, and thus did the gifts God renders to His Christian family on heaven and earth.

cont. on next post

cont. from prior post

The communion of saints is also demonstrated in many other places within the NT. I will point to just one more that I think is particularly important to the discussion. In Ephesians 5 Paul speaks of the Christian household of God. In Eph 5:25-27 it says:

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind–yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

Most scholars take that verse to mean that the church will at the end of time be made perfect and joined so with Christ in glory. The church is, in fact, the body of Christ and those in heaven and on earth are part of his body. Death does not separate us one from another as we are all members of his body. Paul also says this about the members of Christ’s body:

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.[Romans 12:4-5]

That data concerning the body of Christ points to a major difference between the old and new covenants, and explains why intercessory prayer takes on a more connected dimension in the new covenant than in the old covenant. This all begins of course with the redemptive work of Christ.

Immediately upon Jesus resurrection we learn this from scripture.

Matthew 27:52-53
The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Obviously, the heavenly saints were now united to us as members of the body of Christ and the visitation by them to the people in Jerusalem teaches us that they are “not” dead to us as claimed by non-Catholics. Furthermore, their appearances must have conveyed some information, otherwise none of those that were visited would have known that they were actually heavenly saints.

Likewise, we read about the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor where scripture says this:

Luke 9:28-31
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

It is important to note that Peter, James, and John saw Moses and Elijah. They were not dead to them. Moreover, they heard Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus concerning his departure. What they “see” is two heavenly saints communicating with Jesus and they are “hearing” the conversation. Not only that, but they know and we know that Moses and Elijah could “hear” Jesus just as they did. Moreover, both Moses and Elijah were aware of what was happening on earth for they knew that Jesus was preparing for his exodus(death and resurrection).

Elsewhere in Luke 16:22-31 we read this story:

The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, "Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, "Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house–for I have five brothers–that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, "No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ "

We know that Abraham could have sent Lazarus to warn the rich man’s brothers because we know that Elijah and Moses were with Jesus in the presence of Peter, James, and John and that they heard them speaking to Jesus. Moreover, we know that many of the holy saints of God that had died came out of the tombs and visited many in Jerusalem upon Jesus resurrection. Furthermore, the story of Lazarus points out to us that there is a huge chasm separating those in Abrahams’s bosom from those in the place of torment. There is no such chasm dividing those on earth from those residing in Abraham’s bosom. It’s pretty clear from the narrative and from other evidence, that a dead saint could have been sent to communicate something just as an angel could, but that Abraham refused the rich man’s request for a different reason.

cont. on next post

cont. from prior post

Beyond all of that we also read many interesting things in the book of Revelation such as the following:

Rev 5:8 says:
***When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Rev 8:3-4
Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

In those passages we see that the saints and angel participate in handling the prayers offered by the earthly saints.

The book of Revelation also shows us communication between earthly and heavenly saints as demonstrated by the following.

Revelation 5:5
Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

The elder spoke to John just as the angel spoke to John. The heavenly saints are like the angels. Once in heaven, subsequent to the resurrection, the earthly saints are like the angels and they form part of that group described as follows in Hebrews 12:18-24

You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

As Christians we have come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. In doing so, we have not come to only Jesus the mediator of the a new covenant, but we have come to God and His angels and His saints.

Some raise the objection that the saints in heaven can’t hear/know our prayers and that they can’t possibly understand the multitude of languages spoken on earth by those that pray for their intercession. Well logic and scripture deny that objection. First of all, we cannot limit what the heavenly saints can do to only what we can do. Scripture indicates that we cannot even imagine what God has prepared for those in heaven. Likewise, some object saying that one would have to be omniscient to know all the prayers that are offered and that only God is omniscient. Actually, knowing the prayers of a finite number of people would not require anything close to omniscience because we are talking about a finite number of prayers which only make up a tiny fraction of our infinite God’s knowledge and omniscience.

The saints in heaven will understand prayers as the Holy Spirit allows, just as those in the book of Acts could hear the apostles speaking in their own languages on Pentecost “as the Spirit gave them ability”[Acts 2:4].

Likewise, scripture gives us a great indicator concerning what can be understood in heaven even by a man who had not yet passed on into glory. John, a living mortal, witnesses the following:

Rev 5:13
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, "To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!"

John could apparently understand all those singing regardless of their language and he knew that they were all singing the quoted prayer. If John was given that gift then so was everyone else in heaven that was singing the song because they were participating in perfect unison.

And there’s this verse too:

Rev 7:9-10
***After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” ***

John could hear/know all of that, so it is clear that the saints hear/know all of that as well because they are witnessing and experiencing what John is witnessing. They know our prayers and they are aware of what is going on down on earth. And notice that the scripture says that the multitude were of all tribes, nations, and languages. Even so John knew that they were saying “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

I think that scripture fully supports praying to the saints. I’ll let someone else address your question concerning the ECF’s.

I hope this helps and God bless.

Maybe my blog article can help. The Intercession & Communion of Saints

Five Biblical Arguments for Praying to Saints and Angels

Here are a few of the basic passages that support praying to the saints and angels: 1) “Bless the Lord, O you his angels” (Psalms 103:20) “Bless the Lord, all his hosts” (Psalms 103:21) “Praise him, all his angels” – “Praise him, all his host” (Psalms 148:1-2) “Rejoice over her, O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets.” (Revelation 18:20)These verses show that we can address the saints and angels in heaven when we pray. The difference between the prayer, “Bless the Lord, all his hosts” and “Pray for me, all his hosts” is only the difference between two kinds of prayer. Either way you are addressing the people in heaven, it’s just that if you pray the first way, you’re asking the saints to pray with you, and if you pray the second way, you’re asking the saints to pray for you.2) “[T]he twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb…[with] incense, which [is] the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8) “And another angel came…and he was given much incense to [offer] with the prayers of all the saints.” (Revelation 8:3)These verses tell us two things about the saints in heaven. First, they have our prayers and they bring them before God. This shows that they’ve received them. The “incense” of prayer rises to the saints according to this passage. That shows the saints being prayed to at the very least by some people. Second, the saints in heaven are praying about our prayers. People don’t fall down before God for nothing. Rev. 8:3 makes this clearer by saying that incense-prayer from heaven was added to the incense-prayer from earth. This shows us that the saints in heaven add their prayers to ours. Therefore, they receive our prayers, present them to God, and join their prayers to ours.3) “[Jacob] strove with the angel and prevailed, [then] he wept and sought his favor.” (Hosea 12:4) “[T]he angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.” (Genesis 48:16)These passages show angels being prayed to. Jacob prayed to an angel for his favor and then later asks him to bless his children. The Hosea passage is clarified by Genesis 32:24-29, where Jacob says to the angel, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” Some people argue that the angel was actually God because in verse 30 Jacob says, “I have seen God face to face,” but Hosea 12:4 says it was an angel. Genesis 32:30 could mean that Jacob thought the angel was God, or understood that angels bear with them the real presence of God. It is also significant that God has no body. That means the reference to His face is symbolic. It refers to God’s presence.4) “[A]t your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir. Hear, O daughter, consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him; the people of Tyre will sue your favor with gifts, the richest of the people with all kinds of wealth.” (Psalms 45:9-13)This passage is in a messianic psalm and discusses the woman who will stand at the right hand of the Messiah. The woman is Mary and it says specifically that the people of faraway nations “will sue [her] favor with gifts.” This passage shows us that Mary can be prayed to, but it’s also significant because it is a prophecy that is only fulfilled in the Catholic Church. Protestant churches don’t even claim that there is a woman who all the nations seek for her favor, but the Bible says there would be, and she would stand at the right hand of the Messiah.5) “Grace to you and peace from him who is, and was, and is to come, and from the seven spirits which are before his throne.” (Revelation 1:4)In this passage St. John invokes a blessing upon the churches in Asia. He did not only invoke grace from God, but from angels. An invocation is a form of prayer which calls down a blessing on someone. In this passage he calls it down from God and seven angels, which shows us a prayer to the angels.

I don’t know if the thinking is that it “enhances” prayer, maybe it is just a feeling of the presence of God which is why they pray at the Western Wall today.

Am I misunderstanding? You repeat that non-catholics believe dead persons are not aware. Don’t have time to look up your exact words - sorry. But that is not true. They believe they are aware and in paradise but do not have direct access to humans the way we catholics believe. Should say heaven, to be precise.

Also, I didn’t read every word of your “book!” but how do you fit Luke16 into all you say?

I never thought to use this passage in this way and would be interested in your thoughts.

God bless you

I would ask her how she defines prayer. Prayer in its earlier sense meant to ask. We can ask God for things. Those things can be for ourselves or for others. A person can ask us to pray to God for things. When they ask us they are praying that we pray for them. Replace prayer in the previous sentence with ask. What could possibly be wrong with that? Anytime you ask a living person to pray for you you are praying to them.

The chief problem many have is they have restricted the concept of the word prayer to that which is asked of God and directly to God. If that is what the word means then it would a problem, but that isn’t a belief Catholics have.

Another problem is folks can’t understand how the dead in Heaven can hear prayers. Interestingly many of these same people have no problem with their departed looking down from Heaven. As to this issue the Saints in Heaven will have greater attributes than they did on Earth. This could include a greater intellect which might allow them to ‘hear’ multiple prayers. Many people have a deficient understanding of how much greater we will be in Heaven. They also don’t imagine Saints as carrying on God’s work. Heaven is often conceived of as a retirement home. There are the verses in Revelation that refute that.

Folks often consider the ability of Saints to hear prayer as being godlike. Again they have a deficient understanding. All our powers as humans on Earth is Godlike in so far as all or our power and our very being come from God. They think the ability to hear prayer (requests) is a power reserved only to God. But there is no logical problem with Saints hearing prayer and no contradiction with Scripture. Behind this there is too little understanding of how much we are dependent on God now and how much greater we will be in Heaven.

Regarding talking to the dead Jeus did just that during the Transfiguration. According to Mark 9

‘And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.’

So Jesus was talking to the dead and Peter, James and John heard the conversation. I don’t think we know that the three Apostles actively took part in the conversation. But Peter wanted to build a tent for Jesus and the two dead Old Testament Saints. This goes far beyond merely asking the Saints to pray for you.

Well, ask your friend about the parable Jesus spoke, of the rich man and Lazarus.

Remember, the rich man died and went to hell and looking up, he saw ABRAHAM.

Does the rich man call out, “God, please send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my thirst?”

He does NOT. The rich man cries out to ABRAHAM to have his request granted. (Of course, Abraham does not grant it because “there is a great chasm between us”, not to mention that Lazarus is no longer someone whom the rich man can have serve him.)

But the fact that after death those who have died can and do speak with others who have died, AND make requests of them (which is what prayer by definition is, it is not 'communication with GOD alone, since that ‘definition’ is a purely modern Protestant one) as presented by Christ Himself seems to indicate that prayer to the saints, like Abraham, is known in heaven.

It isn’t a belief knowledgeable catholics have. Many do pray to saints and worship them as to God.

I wish there was more catechizing in our church.

God bless you

Help me out here, Tantum ergo,

Okay. Dead people can speak to other dead people. But what does that have to do with our speaking to them? I refer specifically to the question of praying to saints; not that I don’t believe.

Pax also uses Luke 16 to explain why we should pray to saints. Also asked him/her. I don’t see the connection and have never used this passage for this proof.

Also, are you saying prayer is not communication with God??



No one referencing Revelation 5 and 8?

Revelation 5: Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. 8 When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 They sing a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from** every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving[c] our God,
and they will reign on earth.”

Revelation 8: "When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

3 Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake."**

We ask the Saints to pray for us in the same way we ask friends to pray for us. Why would someone not want “the prayer of the righteous man” on their side? Why would someone not want a Saint to help them petition to or praise God?

As Catholics, we don’t believe life ends at death.

I think, besides Acts 9:40, when Peter said, “Tabitha, rise,” the closest thing to a verse in the Bible of good people prayerfully addressing the righteous dead directly is Daniel 3:86, a deuterocanonical verse found in Catholic Bibles but not generally found in Protestant Bibles. It is part of what is sometimes called The Song of the Three Young Men, which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego sang while they were in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace:
Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.

Although it is not quite a Hail Mary prayer, the above verse does show that, like the psalms (Psalm 103:20; 148:2) which address God’s angels directly asking them to bless or praise the Lord, it is ok to prayerfully address the righteous dead directly and ask them to do something that they are capable of doing, namely, praising the Lord.

Since from 2 Maccabees 15:11-16 we know that at least two of the righteous dead (Onias and Jeremiah) are capable of and sometimes do pray for the living, there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why we shouldn’t also prayerfully address the righteous dead directly and ask them to pray for us.

Similarly, since from 2 Kings 13:21 and Sirach 48:14, which seems to allude to the same incident when it says, “in death [Elisha’s] deeds were marvelous,” we know that at least one of the righteous (Elisha) who could work miracles according to God’s will in life is still capable of working miracles after his death, there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why we shouldn’t also prayerfully address the righteous dead directly and ask them to work miracles according to God’s will for us.

Jeremiah 31:15-17

"Thus says the Lord:

A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not.

Thus says the Lord:

Let your voice cease from weeping, and your eyes from tears: for there is a reward for your work, says the Lord, and they shall return out of the land of the enemy. And here is hope for your last end, says the Lord, and the children shall return to their own borders."

Rachel was long dead in Jeremiah’s time, and he was prophesying to the tribes descended from Rachel as he passed by Rachel’s tomb.

But the Lord said that Rachel was alive and aware of the sad stuff going on, and He said that He responded to her weeping for her children.

Matthew 2:18 quotes the same verse in slightly different format, so it’s not an unimportant verse. We also know that people (women wanting babies, especially) have always visited Rachel’s tomb and asked for her prayers, from Biblical times up until now.

The Catholic Answers Tract on “The Intercession of the Saints” has some quotes from early Christians on the subject.

Patristics scholar J.N.D. Kelly, an Anglican, in his book, Early Christian Doctrines, on page 490, in his description of what he calls “the gradual development of the veneration for the saints,” says, in part:

At first it took the form of the reverent preservation of [martyr’s] relics and the annual celebration of their ‘birthday’.[2] From this it was a short step, since they were now with Christ in glory, to seek their help and prayers, and in the third century evidence for the belief in their intercessory power accumulates.[3] In arguing for it Origen appeals to the communion of saints, advancing the view[4] that the Church in heaven assists the Church on earth with its prayers.

[2] Mart. Polyc, 18, 2; cf. Cyprian, epp. 12, 1; 39, 3.
[3] E.g. Origen, orat. 31, 5; Cyprian, ep. 60, 5; also funerary inscriptions.
[4] Esp. in Iesu nave hom. 16, 5.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp is the only work known to me and I have provided a link.

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