I have an important question that I am unable to answer on my own. After talking to a Protestant friend, I realized she did not believe in saints, because they are not in the Bible. However, the one and only Church that existed before the splitting did have saints. I believe that saints are a great example for us on earth because they have successfully lived life as God wanted them to and did great works.
My question is are saints biblical in any way? And for what reasons did the Church begin canonizing saints?
It could be argued that these are living saints - different sense of the word saint than we mean when we give someone that as a title, and that dead saints don’t intercede. But there is actually an example in the OT of God working through the relic of a dead saint (sounds pretty Catholic):
[quote=2 Kings 13:21]Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.
The saints encourage and inspire me. Reading their stories, whether they be autobiographies or biographies (for instance, St. Therese of Lisieux “The Story of a Soul”), is very inspiring.
The saints help me to realize that this is what God can do with us with His grace. We are all meant to be saints in the degree that God wills us to be. No two saints are alike in their gifts and personalities.
I don’t know when the Church started the practice of canonizing saints, but I am glad they did!
Whenever someone points out the bad things some Catholics do, I like to remind them about the saints.
It is sad that Protestants don’t accept that the saints can intercede for us. They ask their friends and relatives to pray for them, and yet they aren’t aware that those who are already in the presence of the Lord are still members of the Body of Christ! They can intercede for us just as we here on this planet can intercede for each other. After all, God made them what they are by His grace. They glorify Him!
Saints come up all over the bible. The term was used for both the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant. It eventually became reserved for the Church Triumphant.
Many Protestants, not all, believe that there is no connection between us and the saints, because the saints are dead people who will not be returned to life until the Second Coming. However, the Scripture suggest otherwise. At the Transfiguation the Apostles report having seen Jesus with Elija and Moses and they see Elijah and Moses in their glory, which is the natural state of a saint.
In the Rev. 7:8 John reports
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
John is very clear that these are human beings. Observe the attributes that he gives them.
These are not attributes of angels, but of human beings.
The Church always canonized, but the process evolved. Originally, saints were canonized by the vox populi, such as the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles, the Church Fathers. None of them were every studied, beatified and then canonized.
Later, bishops began to canonize, though the rule of the vox populi has never been abrogated. When bishops began to canonize, the decree was sent to Rome to be ratified by the pope. Finally, in the 11th century, the canonization was reserved to the pope. This was to ensure that there would be no influence from the outside. Once the pope canonizes, it is a dogma of faith that must be received and assented to by the faithful.
Canons were developed that guided the process of studying the lives of the candidates being postulated for canonization. They were put on trial. The one side was headed by the postulator and the other side was headed by the Devils Advocate.
Contrary to many ignorant opinions that are flying around, the Devil’s Advocate has not been suppressed. Pope John XXIII thought it was a horrible title for someone who was really trying to protect the Church from being conned. Obviously, this could not be rightfully called the advocate of the Devil. His title was changed to The Defender of the Faith. The job description remains the same. It is his job to look for anything in the life of the person that may suggest that he or she did not live a life of heroic Christian virtue.
Prior to the 11th century, we already had saints. Some were canonized by the Vox Populi and other by bishops and Patriarchs, but always with the infallible approval of the pope. That’s why you will find many Protestant Churches names after pre-Reformation saints such as St. Edward, St. Francis, St. Pau, St. Andrew and many of the Apostles. You’ll also find many of the Orthodox Churches named after the Eastern saints.
This whole idea of not venerating saints, to the point of not even naming a building after a saint is a very American Protestant notion. You will find it in the low churches. The high churches still do it, especially the Lutheran and the Anglican/Episcopal.
The National Cathedral of the USA, which is Episcopal is named after St. Alban and has chapels named after different pre-Reformation saints. By the way, if you’re ever in Washington, the place is a must see and the choir is oiut of this world. Thy put on one of the best Christmas recitals that I have ever heard. The building is stunning. It can never be reproduced today. Who has the money? :shrug: