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Saints, Veneration of.

1. Paying special honor to departed ones (esp. those noted for holy life). In many religions a saint is a superhuman character who mediates bet. divine power and human beings. Cults of such saints existed in Gk. religion, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and other religions, sometimes with stress on ethical life.

2. Early Christian saints were martyrs (see Martyr), honored in their community and soon elsewhere. Services were held above their graves and altars and chs. erected. This developed into the custom of placing relics of saints under or in altars. By the 3d c., belief in the efficacy of the intercession of saints was est.

3. In the early ch., those who had suffered (e.g., imprisonment, torture, exile) for their faith were regarded as martyrs. By ca. the end of the 2d c., confessor* (one who suffered for the faith) and martyr (one who died for the faith) were distinguished. After the Roman persecutions (see Persecution of Christians), a confessor was a Christian noted for virtuous life. Confessors and ascetics were added to saints, making it possible to include Mary and John.

4. In the Middle Ages, pilgrimages* to shrines of saints, honoring relics, creation of patron saints and feasts for saints, etc. lent added impetus to veneration of saints.

5. In Eastern* Orthodox Chs. the creation of saints is a proclamation rather than a process and is less formal than in the RC Ch. Moral perfection and miraculous acts are prerequisites for sainthood. Veneration of saints is incorporated into the liturgy. See also Menologion; Synaxarion.

6. As the Roman see extended its power it assumed right of canonization. The 1st canonization was that of Ulrich von Augsburg 993 (d. 973; bp. Augsburg 923). Alexander III (see Popes, 9) forbade honoring anyone as saint without permission of the Roman see. Acc. to CIC 1277, 1, only those canonized by the RC Ch. may be publicly venerated. CIC 1999–2141 prescribe the process of canonization. Acc. to RCm works of saints add to the treasury* of merits. CIC 1255, 1, distinguishes latria,* hyperdulia, and dulia. But the distinction bet. worship and veneration has not always been observed (e.g., D. Attwater, A Catholic Dictionary, 2d ed., rev. [New York, 1956], p. 512, speaks of veneration as worship). Some contemporary RCs affirm the all-sufficient mediation of Christ and try to justify veneration of saints and prayer for their intercession on basis of the doctrine of mystical body of Christ and the communion of saints.

7. Veneration of saints was influenced by pre-Christian cults of the dead. At times Christian saints replaced heathen gods. Cathari* and Waldenses* rejected prayers to saints.

8. The Luth. confessions assume the existence of saints and include them in the communio* sanctorum. Saints pray for the ch. in gen. (Ap XXI 9) but are not mediators of redemption (Ap XXI 14–30). Gen. the saints are given the same attributes they had on earth. Prayers to saints are prohibited (SA-II II 25).

9. The Luth. confessions approve honoring the saints (AC XXI 1). They are honored in 3 ways: 1. By thanking God for examples of His mercy; 2. By using the saints as example for strengthening our faith; 3. By imitating their faith and other virtues. (Ap XXI 4–7) EL

See also Invocation of Saints; Prayer, 2.


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod


Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

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