Intercession of the Saints

The Fathers Speak :

The belief in the intercessory power of the Saints is as old as theChurch. It is alluded to in authentic writings, such as the "Acts of theMartyrs," from the second and third centuries. They are represented asinterceding after death for the faithful upon earth. "In heaven," saidthe martyr Theodotus before his torments began, "I will pray for you toGod."

Inscriptions from the Catacombs: "O Atticus, sleep in peace andin the security of thy salvation and pray earnestly for our sins" (CapitolMuseum);

"Gentianus, faithful, in peace who lived twelve years, eight monthsand sixteen days. You will intercede for us in your prayers because weknow that you are in Christ" (Lateran Museum).

Hermas (The Shepherd 3:5:4 [A.D. 80]).

"[The Shepherd said:] 'But those who are weak and slothful in prayer,hesitate to ask anything from the Lord; but the Lord is full of compassion,and gives without fail to all who ask Him. But you, [Hermas,] having beenstrengthened by the holy angel [you saw], and having obtained from Himsuch intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lordunderstanding, and receive it from Him?'"

Clement of Alexandria (Miscellanies 7:12 [A.D. 208]).

"In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He alsoprays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and heis never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has thechoir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]"

Origen (+253 A.D.), De Orat. 11, 2: "Now the one great virtueaccording to the Word of God is love of one's neighbour. We must believethat the saints who have died possess this love in a far higher degreetowards the ones engaged in the combat of life than those who are stillsubject to human weakness and involved in the combat along with their weakerbrethren. The words 'If one member suffer anything, all the members sufferwith it, or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it' are notconfined to those on earth who love their brethren. For the words applyjust as much to the love of those who have left this present life...'thesolicitude for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who isscandalized and I am not inflamed?"


"Mother of God, [listen to] my petitions; do not disregard us in adversity,but rescue us from danger" (Rylands Papyrus 3 [A.D. 350]).

St. Epiphanius, Against All Heresies (377 A.D.): "Furthermore,as to mentioning the names of the dead, how is there anything very usefulin that? What is more timely or more excellent than that those who arestill here should believe that the departed do live, and that they havenot retreated into nothingness, but that they exist and are alive withthe Master? And so that this most august proclamation might be told infull, how do they have hope, who are praying for the brethren as if theywere but sojourning in a foreign land? Useful too is the prayer fashionedon their behalf, even if it does not force back the whole of guilty chargeslaid to them."

St. Jerome, Against Vigilantius (406 A.D.): "You say in yourbook that while we live we are able to pray for each other, but afterwardswhen we have died, the prayer of no person for another can be heard; andthis is especially clear since the martyrs, though they cry vengeance fortheir own blood, have never been able to obtain their request. But if theApostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, at atime when they ought still be solicitous about themselves, how much morewill they do so after their crowns, victories, and triumphs."

St. Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (Inter 413-426 A.D.):"Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church whicheven now is the Kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembranceof them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ."

St. Augustine of Hippo, The Care of the Dead (421 A.D.): "Thespirits of the dead are able to know some things which happen here, whichit is necessary for them to know. And those for whom it is necessary thatsomething be known, not only the present or the past but even the future,- they know these things by the revealing Spirit of God, just as not allmen but the Prophets, while they lived, knew not all things but those whichthe providence of God judged ought to be revealed to them."

St. Augustine of Hippo, Against Faustus the Manichean (C. 400A.D.): "A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity thememorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and sothat it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers. But itis done in such a way that our altars are not set up to any one of themartyrs,- although in their memory,- but to God Himself, the God of thosemartyrs...That worship, which the Greeks call Latria and for which thereis in Latin no single term, and which is expressive of the subjection owedto Divinity alone, we neither accord nor teach that it should be accordedto any save to the one God."

Pope Leo I

"Let us rejoice, then, dearly beloved, with spiritual joy, and makeour boast over the happy end of this illustrious man in the Lord [the martyrLaurentius] . . . By his prayer and intercession we trust at all timesto be assisted . .." (Sermons 85:4 [A.D. 450]).

St. John Damascene, Apologetical Sermons Against Those Who RejectSacred Images (Post 725 A.D.): "We worship and adore the Creator and Makeralone, as God who by His nature is to be worshipped. We worship also theHoly Mother of God, not as God, but as God's Mother according to the flesh.Moreover, we worship also the saints, as elect friends of God, and as havinggotten ready audience with Him."