When did the practice of praying to the saints begin?

I was asked a question by a friend today and didn’t know the answer. He asked me when did the practice of praying to the saints begin and also what is the earliest evidence (i.e. inscriptions in the catacombs) or writings in the Church Fathers that would show this and also dates for them? Any answers or articles to help me out here would be great. Thank you.

Here are quotes from the Fathers:


Welcome to CAF :slight_smile:

Here is an article I wrote that might help you.

I meant to ask in my earlier post if praying to the saints is a dogma of the Catholic Church or if it is a practice that is encouraged but not required. Don’t get me wrong, I ask the saints for intercession almost daily as I need all the prayer I can get. I just know that was something else I didn’t know the answer to though.

Praying to the saints for intercession is permitted and encouraged, but it is not required.

The Communion of Saints is a Doctrine of the Church, that we can ask for their prayers and receive their intercession. However devotion to any particular Saint is not required.

It began before the Bible was even finished. You can see how there was intercessory prayer in the Bible below. Also, take a look at this verse:

(Revelation 5:8 RSV) And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;


Praying to the saints, while encouraged and permitted, is not required. :slight_smile:

thank you all so much for the information. the articles and links you all sent were exactly what i was looking for. please continue to post and help out others as it was a huge benefit not only for me but a close friend of mine as well


Isn’t it though? If one must name a patron saint at either their child’s infant baptism, or later as an adult unbaptized going through RCIA, or a properly and validly baptised catechumen prior to the rite of entrance then, doesn’t this require one to have a devotion to that saint? Isn’t it taught that saint will be watching over that soul forever?

I am confused about this.

There is a difference between this and what Holly said (praying to saints). Neither Catholics, nor Orthodox, are required to ask for Heavenly saints to pray for us. Choosing a patron saint is a different matter, where we look towards someone who lived the Gospel (and now lives eternally), and/or has similarities to your own strengths and weaknesses. That does not mean that you have to ask for their intercession. I can read all about someone, study their biography, etc., and never talk to them. Likewise, one can read all about a canonized saint, and never ask for their intercession.

So, just because one chooses a patron saint does not mean that it is required to ask for their intercession. You also aren’t required to ask earthly saints (your mom, cousin, roommate, etc.) to pray for you either.

Praying to the saints is foreshadowd in the Old Testament and Jesus’ life. The Jews already venerated the prophets and the patriarchs by the time that Jesus was born. We get a glimpse of this at the Transfiguartion where Jesus is seen with Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah are seen sharing in the glory of Christ.

Though they did not pray to the patriarchs and prophets, the very mention of their name was considered something sacred. Remember how they accused Jesus of blaspheming against the prophets and patriarchs. They had a sense of communion with the heroes of the faith. This is called a foreshadowing of what is to come in the Apostolic Church.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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