Praying to Saints


I listen to EWTN IHRadio etc. MANY non-Catholics have the gripe about praying to saints but I NEVER hear the response I use.

When confronted with this complaint I open either a Missal or LOTH for a particular Saint and show them the prayers “to” that saint on their feast. In EVERY instance the prayers is directly to God asking for the saints prayers for us to be heard. As todays for Padre Pio illustrates:

Almighty ever-living God, who, by a singular grace,
gave the Priest Saint Pius a share in the Cross of your Son
and, by means of his ministry,
renewed the wonders of your mercy,
grant that through his intercession
we may be united constantly to the sufferings of Christ,
and so brought happily to the glory of the resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.

Perhaps it is “ok” to make direct pleas to saints such as “St. Lucy may your prayers help to heal my sight” Shouldn’t they always begin and end as the prayer of the day; petitioning God for the efficacy of such prayers to a saint?

Concerned becuase the typical response on EWTN shows is it’s like asking a friend to pray for you which is only half the story…

Right? Is my response sound and accurate and encompassing the idea of prayers to saints?



Prayer is often made directly to a saint. It is more than “ok.” Consider the Hail Mary. It is addressed directly the Mother of God and does not include a petition to God.

Yes but consider the prayer, we’re asking her to pray for us, not petitioning anything specific. For instance not “Mary heal my infirmity” but “Mary pray for my infirmity to be healed”.

The common Hail Mary is via the Rosary and definitely Christ centric despite “Hail Mary”.

Again I’m not saying we shouldn’t but it’s not required and IF one is uncomfortable the prayers can (and perhaps should be?) framed as the memorial prayer I posted above.

Once again I’m not trying to convince practicing Catholics about this but illustrate to those more dubious of its practice the larger picture.

As I said when confronted I open the LOTH and show the actual Church’s prayers “to” that saint.

I just feel the practice of praying to saints is never explained well to non-Catholics and rarely makes an impact. Better to show actual prayers of the Church as opposed to personal devotions.



To refine:

We do pray TO saints but don’t rely on their “power” to “heal” but on the efficacy of their prayers.

We rely upon saints closeness to God and joining in the Communion of Saints our prayers greater than we can conjure on our own behalf.

Again I can find no where in the Liturgy that has a prayer directed to a saint but ALWAYS as the memorial prayer I posted above.


I believe that the Rosary is Christ centric not “despite of Hail Mary” but because of it. I also assume that the Saints in heaven (and especially our Lady) have a much better understanding of the relationship between them and God and how prayer works than what I can possibly comprehend here on earth. So I think it is perfectly fine and sufficient to pray “Saint …, please help me with XYZ!” and then trust that the saint will know what to do. There is no need for us to concern ourselves with how the saints will accomplish the prayers and the help that we ask them for.

Yes, the Hail Mary prayer is asking for prayer. However, there are prayers that more directly ask a saint for help, but the fact that their help comes through prayer and not through their own power is implied.

As for the “it is just like asking a friend to pray for you” explanation, I agree it is not that great, because it doesn’t answer the question of how we know that is possible or okay. The problem is that answering that question requires talking about tradition and history, but Protestants don’t believe in tradition (and may not care about history).

Also your method of showing them a prayer from the LOTH only works if they never become aware that there are non-Latin Rite Catholics.

What happens if they one day pick-up a copy of the Byzantine Hours and read the part of Vespers that says, “Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us”?

Personally I have no trouble with the Medieval perception of saints as our “advocates” (“attorneys”) before the just and merciful Judge.

As in his life [Elisha] did wonders, so in death his deeds were marvelous. (Sirach 48:14)

I think you are forgetting that the Holy Spirit gives the gifts of healing and of working miracles to his saints and, so, there is nothing wrong with prayerfully asking them to exercise their God-given gifts, as well as asking them to pray for us. Because Catholics typically begin and end their prayers to saints with the sign of the cross and in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, it should be obvious to non-Christians that what Catholics are seeking the saints’ Christian intercession, for their intercession through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ.

All good posts here.

Let me just say that in the inspired and approved writing of the biography of Our Lady “City of God” we learn that after calling his apostles the next thing Jesus did was bring them home and introduce them to Our Lady. To this day I think I would recommend prayer by non-Catholics directly to Jesus and later, to know him more deeply, introduce them to Our Lady and the saints.

“In EVERY instance the prayers is directly to God asking for the saints prayers for us to be heard.” Exactly, I’ve noticed that too. Especially if the Church composed it. So yes, I have thought about raising that point before, but have never had a chance to use it.
As Catholics the main reason we pray through saints has to be because we believe we’re in communion with them. Remember that that’s part of the Apostle’s Creed. And I don’t think one is in communion w/ another if there’s no communication. So we ask for their help because they’re still members of Christ’s “body”, and their prayers have great power with God. …

“Shouldn’t they always begin and end as the prayer of the day; petitioning God for the efficacy of such prayers to a saint?” I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that. Hopefully, you’ll find out soon.

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