Why would a Presbyterian church be named after a Catholic saint?

St. Giles is the name of a local Presbyterian church. But, from what I read, he was a Catholic saint from the Middle Ages and clearly not part of the reformation (500 years prior, I think). I didn’t think Presbyterians really paid that much attention to saints, is there something special for them about St. Giles that makes him an exception? Do they recognize saints as being in heaven, and if so, do they believe in some other place besides heaven, similar to Purgatory, for those who are not saints? Is it the difference between ‘the elect’ and the rest of humanity? Or is it a different St. Giles entirely?

I actually found two St. Giles, one from 1200s and one from 700s:



St. Giles is the “mother church” for Presbyterians. The Scottish Reformer, John Knox, was pastor of St. Giles in Edinburgh.

Also, many of the pre-Reformation saints are recognized as those who lived exemplary lives. Depending on the denomination, canonization proper may or may not be recognized.

Since all Protestant denominations have roots in the Catholic Church, that is why you see Protestant churches named after Saints. Prior to the reformation, they would never have been referred to as “catholic saints”…just saints…the Lutheran Church probably has more churches named for Saints than other Protestant denominations…because they didn’t throw out all Catholic traditions…I’ve found many Lutherans to be more catholic than many Catholics!

Ah, thank you. That makes sense about the church in Scotland with the same name.

I have noticed many Lutheran and Anglican churches that use saints names, but that was the first Presbyterian church I have seen using one. :slight_smile:

I don’t know much about the Presbyterian church other than what I learned about Calvinism in a philosophy class.

And at least a few of us just might be neck-deep in the Tiber: Protestants need the Pope

Absolutely…I was an active lifetime member of the LCMS, and if anyone would have told me even 6 or 7 years ago that not only would I become Catholic, but thrive spiritually in it, I would have laughed out loud.

One of the difficulties IMO that Catholics have when discussing Protestants, is Catholics try to put the particular Protestant tradition into a “Catholic mold”. The church building wasn’t named after a “Catholic saint”, but a “saint” that had some significance to that particular congregation.

I’ve seen “St. Mark’s Church of the Nazarene”, “St Timothy’s Mennonite Church”, “St Francis Covenant Church”…those saints of renown that made an impact on religious thought and practice pre Reformation are simply “saints” to most Protestants…no need for “cannonization” by a political/religious body.

Remember their were Saints before the division into Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox those Saints belong to all.

In the city I lived in before their were two Presbyterian churches with Saints names. St. Paul and St. Andrew. They don’t use the apostrophe S.

Saint Andrew is very important in Scotland.

We did not throw out the saints -unfortunately our Anglican communion has no one to actually decide on canonization-those saints who lived before our Schism with the Roman catholic Church are certainly still “in”

we actually view others as saints although some the RC Church may agree with such as the Matyrs of Uganda and some not such as Bishop Cranmer

The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian and even have cathedrals such as St Giles in Edinburgh, St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, St Magnus in Kirkwall. I wish there were more Presbyterians on CAF because their roots are also catholic.


The episcopal and anglican churches are usually named after saints.
So they might have the Lutherans beat in that category. Many episcopalians and anglicans are very catholic.

There are Lutheran churches dedicated to Saints, it seems there are fewer of them than
Episcopal/Anglican churches named for Saints.

A lot of Lutheran churches are named for theological attributes like Grace Church, Faith church. And the many names of Jesus. Risen Lord, Redeemer, Our Savior.

Of course there are many exceptions to that rule, and the more Lutheran churches a city has the more imaginative they become.

The Church of Scotland’s cathedrals aren’t really cathedrals any more. They haven’t been since the “Glorious” Revolution of 1688, when the (Protestant) bishops were ejected from the Kirk. Whence the wee Scottish Episcopal Church.

Some of the older English cities have churches named for brilliantly obscure Anglo-Saxon saints.

I agree that beyond Catholics the Anglican Church seems to be the most likely to name their churches after saints. Lutherans in north America tend to use the same names over and over again [Holy Trinity, St John, St Paul, etc]; Episcopalians are more creative. Interestingly in Europe many Lutheran churches are named after saints especially St Mary but I read that after the Reformation some parishes [such as in Denmark] changed the name of a church from St Mary to Our Lady to de-emphasize Marian devotion. But Our Lady sounds more catholic than St Mary to me, :shrug:

Thanks for the clarification.

Their hierarchy look like bishops and they use the title “Very Reverend”

The point is that saints are holy people that we should try to emulate, especially regarding their religious beliefs. How can one name a saint as their patron and ignore the fact that they were deeply Catholic? I’ve never understood that mindset. :shrug:

The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, so no bishops.

St. Giles is the “mother church” for Presbyterians. The Scottish Reformer, John Knox, was pastor of St. Giles in Edinburgh.

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