Praying to saints

I’m probably oversimplifying this, but I’m trying to wrap my head around it.

So is praying to a saint kind of like talking to a friend? Like, you can ask them to pray for you and even ask for some guidance or just pour out your heart to them, and they will listen and can pray for you, but they can’t act directly and miraculously into the situation the way that God can? Or is it a fundamentally more reverential relationship than you’d have with a godly friend here?

When people have a “patron saint,” is that sort of like having a mentor, except one who is dead and in heaven?

Or am I still not getting it…

Of course!

So is praying to a saint kind of like talking to a friend?

This is a pretty good analogy.

Like, you can ask them to pray for you and even ask for some guidance or just pour out your heart to them, and they will listen and can pray for you, but they can’t act directly and miraculously into the situation the way that God can?

Any direct action would be akin to the disciples casting out demons in Jesus’ name, or Peter and the other apostles and missionaries doing miracles in Jesus’ name. The saints do pray like you described, but they have taken action like those apostolic healings, in accordance with God’s will. I’m not sure you’d state Peter healing a cripple as being directly Peter.

Or is it a fundamentally more reverential relationship than you’d have with a godly friend here?

It should be a little more reverential, though I don’t want to rule out “friendship” elements. Saints have “completed the race.” They have been made clean to enter heaven. They are fine works of God. They are our older siblings in Christ who, by the grace of God, have been successful. They are now known as eternal friends of God.
Some honor and respect is due.

When people have a “patron saint,” is that sort of like having a mentor, except one who is dead and in heaven?

Yes, a mentor and maybe a sponsor (not a sponsor like a paid sponsorship logo on a Nascar vehicle, but a bit more like a godparent), or watchful older sibling. They are part of the “cloud of witnesses” surrounding the faithful.


…I think that you got the gist of it; not even the Virgin Mary would have autonomy (Divine Power); they are intercessors just like any saintly person we know.

Consider the relationship with the saints as an “uncle/aunt” that would speak in our behalf when we need assistance (job, loan, rental apt/house…); we ask them to put in a good word with God.

Consider this, at times I’ve been in a job where I have trained or instructed the person who would take my job or become my supervisor–cause they had connections and I didn’t. So they advance or take my job while I’m out in the cold.

The Saints assist us as they intercede for us; the saints are not able to impart God’s Divine Power.

Maran atha!


I do believe ya got it in one! Think of it as having a friend on the inside, or the upside as it were!

Bless you!

We ask them to intercede for us

you got it down with the friend thing!

Hi detles,

Your understanding and comprehension are very good! :thumbsup:

Welcome to the forum. :slight_smile:

I suggest praying to God with the Saints.

But when you pray to the saints, you are praying to God with them.

The saints, in Heaven, are perfectly united to God.

You talk to them, you talk to Him. it’s not like He’s off in some other corner of the Heaven and they’re alone somewhere in a 'God-free zone".

All prayer has God as its ultimate aim. If you are praying to/with the saints, the ultimate aim of all the prayer is God.

I just wanted to add that you don’t need to privately pray to saints as a Catholic. Certainly they are popular devotions, and the Church does ask for the intercessions of saints during the mass, but it’s not a private requirement.

Granted, it’s like not asking your friends and family and parish to pray for you when you’re in need, and Church teaching stresses that we remain one undivided body in Christ whether on earth, in heaven, or in Purgatory, we are all still branches on the one vine that is in Christ, but you don’t have to invoke it.

Hopefully that is what people are doing… it doesn’t automatically happen. One needs to be disposed that way… meaning ordering their prayers to God.

What you describe may very well be happening, but why not be clear in the language that we use… pray to God and ask Mary and the other saints to pray with you.

Very good. Here is something that I found on EWTN that might help clarify…

You ask about the differences between veneration and worship. The technical terms that are used seem appropriate for the explanation. The chief ones are dulia, hyperdulia, and latria. Dulia is a Greek term meaning the veneration or homage, different in nature and degree from that given to God, that is paid to the saints. It includes, for example, honoring the saints and seeking their intercession with God. Related to dulia is Hyperdulia, the special veneration accorded the Blessed Virgin Mary because of her unique role in the mystery of Redemption, her exceptional gifts of grace from God, and her pre eminence among the saints. Hyperdulia is not adoration; only God is adored. Such adoration reserved exclusively for God is termed latria, a Greek-rooted Latin term that refers to that form of praise and worship due to God alone. I hope this assists you.

I think most prayers, including Litanies, the Rosary, etc. make it very clear. “May very well be clear?” You must have somewhat of a poor view of the intelligence of your fellow Catholics. . .

Are you saying that people are praying to the saints and leaving God completely out? I’ve heard that old wives’ tale for decades. Strangely enough, it’s usually those of us who are ‘old wives’ ourselves who are supposedly guilty of this (the little old Italian/Irish/Spanish/German/Polish ‘grandmas’ who have all these holy cards, statues of saints especially the Virgin, and are always talking to ‘them’ and never to “God”. . .

And yet I, and all the other little old grannies usually know exactly who is the focus (and it’s usually we who come on as I did to say but yes, the focus on prayer is ultimately God). . . So a lot of the so-called ‘Getting lost in the saints and leaving God out of it’ is pretty much an urban/rural legend, usually brought up by the ‘better educated’ (never mind that some of us grannies have college degrees including terminal ones) and usually aimed at the ‘past’ (as if anything old automatically doesn’t get it ‘right’). I am not saying this about YOU at all personally, but so often it seems to be a variant of Rhodes’ 'white man’s burden" (i.e., the ‘educated Catholics’ attempts to prove to all and sundry that he/she is not bound by the errors of the past horde of undereducated old coots, and that we NEED to make it clear that any possible taint of that old legend shouldn’t exist and therefore we must tailor our language because we’re modern and all. IOW, rushing to defend something that certainly never existed to the extent that is usually claimed in order to placate the sensibilities of those who are only too eager to see Catholics as pantheistic, and not realizing that the quick reflex-defense actually makes it seem, to the eyes of those critical to begin with, that we are indeed guilty and need to make elaborate twistings in order to be as clear and direct as a good Protestant would be in understanding prayer! (Not to mention that it was the **Protestants who changed the meaning of the word prayer to begin with, by defining it solely as ‘communication with God.’ ** But prayer is not simply that, and that is **another reason **why our rush to push the saints into that narrow ‘we only pray to God, we pray WITH the saints’ is just playing into the hands of those who are themselves narrowing the word incorrectly.

Sometimes I feel like starting a movement, “Take back our words”. . . Take back the original definition of prayer, gay, Christian, gentleman, etc. etc. They have all been narrowed and twisted beyond recognition so that they don’t really mean what they have meant for generations and generations. Why should I jettison perfectly good words and accept poor substitutes instead?

Oops… struck a chord. The use of words and their connotations change/evolve over time. As frustrating as that may be, it remains a fact.

I’ll continue to teach my kids (both my own and my CCD kids) to pray (defined as to ask) to God and ask the saints to join their voices with their own.


Yes I see this in converts sometimes. Maybe a carry over from protestant days. The first words out of their mouths when you talk about the Mother of God is ‘of course you don’t have to pray to her’ lol. I often wonder if they ever thought that if God wanted only us praying to Him and not having the saints or His Mother praying for us why He gave us Guardian Angels. I mean if the intention is just God and us then why Guardian Angels?

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love
commits me here,
ever this day,
be at my side,
to light and guard,
rule and guide.


A chord, no. Not even a nerve. A very sizeable majority of the world continues to understand prayer, just as you yourself do, as ‘to ask’, not simply, ‘to ask God alone.’

You can of course pray as you see fit. If your understanding is that prayer is to God alone and you simply want everybody praying to God alone, it’s your call. I will also teach my kids (and grandchildren and CCD etc.) that prayer is something we can all do to and for each other, with God as the ultimate object.


…yeah, if we could only turn back time…

…I would like to include in the list above “Dominican.” Mom, I kiddingly say, was more Catholic than the pope (well, some of the popes, with the exception of JP II). She observed every obligation, she followed every devotion; she had a constant prayer life, she was, as far as I know, the only other person that Offered God her Fiat without blinking an eye… yet, in spite of the hundreds of prayers cards, novenas, books, biography of the Saints, Rosaries, Holy Water, Sacramentals, Crucifixes, icons, statues, head coverings, scapulars, and Blessed items… on her deathbed she made sure to drill it in: “…we are in God’s Hands; we are to accept God’s Will.”

…yes, it is true that some Catholics allow devotions to the Saints and other things to cloud their direction and relationship with God, but the Church has never Taught that God can be replaced and Obedient Catholics place God above everything else, every single time!

…while non-Catholics (and disgruntled Catholics) look for ways to fault the Church, they forget that graven images can be in any form… including theater-like (entertainment) “worship.”

Whatever is placed above God is a graven image!

Maran atha!


I think that you are both correct; the meaning of praying to the Saints did not take a bad spin until people misunderstood what the intent was: seeking the intersession of the Saints.

I cannot recall a single prayer where it stated, 'St. “xyz” with your power grant…" Prayers direct to God ask for His Divine Act while the prayers directed through the Saints ask that the particular St. intercede or ask God; some prayers even appeal to God to grant,through the intersession of that particular St., His Blessing/miracle/Grace…

Has anyone read differently?

Maran atha!


Hi, Johnny!

It is interesting that you bring this up… I cannot recall any other visual, in reference to prayers, other than that found in Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. A large quantity of incense was given to him to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that stood in front of the throne; 4 and so from the angel’s hand the smoke of the incense went up in the presence of God and with it the prayers of the saints.

Clearly, there’s a structure in place… the prayers of all the Saints are placed in a censer and offered to God, by yet another intercessor.

Does God need so much “buffering” or does He merely requires our Obedience: ‘…not all who call me Lord, but those who do the Father’s Will…’

Maran atha!



No God does not need what you call ’ buffering’. He wants it.

And of course we also know our Faith does not come from Scripture alone.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit