The Tradition of Honoring Saints

The Tradition of Honoring Saints

In the early years of Christianity, when a Christian died, other Christians would honor them.  They would pray to the person who died, asking for help and intercession.  This was the beginning of honoring people as holy.

As time passed, the idea of canonization came into being.  This is the term the Catholic Church uses for transforming a deceased person into a saint.  In the beginning, the Christian people decided who could be a saint.  Usually, it was a martyr or very devout, holy person.

Eventually, the Vatican and Catholic bishops developed a canonization process that had to be met in order for someone to attain sainthood.  Pope John Paul II changed the requirements for canonization.  The investigation starts after the Catholic who is considered saintly dies.  A bishop delves into the person’s life, discovering facts about virtue, martyrdom, and miracles.  After these facts are collected, a group of theologians evaluate the facts.  If the theologians and cardinals approve the person, the Pope then declares the person as venerable.

Once the Catholic is declared venerable, the next step is to determine if any miracles took place after the person’s death resulting from prayers to the candidate. The person is considered blessed if a miracle can be proven.  This is known as beatification,

After a miracle is proven, the Pope will canonize the person as a saint.  This is a long, time consuming process.  A saint is recognized by the Catholic Church as a holy person, dwelling in Heaven, and venerated by the Church.

Catholics often have a favorite saint or a patron saint that they ask for help with a particular circumstance or just help in living a Christian life.  Catholics believe that saints have a close relationship with God and ask for their help through hard times.

Giving a patron saint medal to someone going through a rough time is a thoughtful Catholic Church gift.  Often, saints are associated with certain problems.  For instance, St. Blaise is the patron saint of wild animals and throat illnesses.  The Catholic Church blesses the throats of parishioners on the St. Blaise feast day.  The priest recites the words:  Saint Blaise, pray for us that we may not suffer from illnesses of the throat and pray that all who are suffering be healed by God's love.  AmenWhole holding two candles, crossed over the person’s throat.  A St. Blaise medal for someone with an illness involving the throat would be an ideal gift.  These can be found in Catholic Church gift shops and can be engraved with a personal, inspiring message. 
St. Jude Thaddeus is the patron saint of lost and desperate causes.  Catholics pray, asking St. Jude to implore God for help with stressful and difficult times.  Give a St. Jude medal to a loved one going through a rough time as a source of comfort.  The gift is a reminder that help is there in the form of St. Jude who will ask God for help when despairing.    
There are many canonized saints in the Catholic Church.  They are venerated by the Church and offer help in all types of desperate situations.  Pray with the saints to help with the problems of everyday life or to help a friend or relative in need.
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