Saints. It is an immortalized image of a man or a woman , even places, distinguished in the various religious traditions for their supposed particular relationships with the divinities and the consequent spiritual or moral superiority over the rest of human beings, it died while being in their religious devotions. In life they were the friends who gave an example of faith and true love, sacrifice and generous service to the poor and the sick.


[ hide ]

  • 1 Origin
  • 2 History
  • 3 The Bible rejects the cult of images
  • 4 Examples of some names of saints and angels
  • 5 Other religions that worship the saints
  • 6 Sources


The word santo comes from the Latin sanctus , -i; from the Greek hagios and in Hebrew qâdosh meaning: chosen by God . The word holy is used as an adjective to indicate a direct relationship with God. Therefore, it is applied to people (the saints), places (like Mount Athos ), texts (like the Holy Scriptures ), etc.

In the Christian tradition they are people who are outstanding for their virtues and are revered as models capable of showing others an exemplary path of perfection. In many religious traditions they are the intercessors or protectors and are worshiped for being understood that, after death, they enjoy the company of the divinity. The Christian religion considers that all humanity is called to be holy and to follow the saints, who in turn represent the example of belief and following of God whose life can be summed up in one concept: love of the supreme being .

The influence of a saint goes beyond the scope of his religion when the acceptance of his morality acquires universal components: this is the case, for example, of Saint Francis of Assisi or of Saint Martin of Porres , generally, at least to some extent, of all the founders of the great religions.

In the Orthodox Church , venerable is the title attributed to the saints who lived a monkish or hermit life . Many times this title is considered equal or superior to the title of “saint”.

In the Catholic Church , venerable is defined as the lowest level of the three recognized levels of holiness. It is the second step in the process of naming a saint (first the candidate to be a saint is named Servant of God . The next step is beatification (which gives the title of blessed ), finally the canonization that gives the person the title corresponds of “holy”.

In the Anglican religion , venerable is the protocol treatment given to an archdeacon .



Most of the religions of India often have syncretistic tendencies, not so in the three great western monotheisms ( Judaism , Christianity and Islam), which conceive of holiness as framed by communal or sacramental membership. Islam and Protestant Christianity even reject the notion of saint and the cult dedicated to human beings. This does not, however, prevent popular Islam from having developed, aside from official and educated currents, a fervor around the tombs of the saints.

The Greeks gave the qualification of “hero” to men who, according to legend or tradition, considered children of the gods or individuals who had become very famous for their exploits or services. These or were only mythological beings such as Hercules , Theseus , Jason , Perseus , etc., but also important military leaders, founders of cities, patrons of families or corporations, and even men notable for their physical strength or beauty. At first these Sons of Zeusthey were rendered a simple cult, without libations or sacrifices, based only on prayers and funeral honors; this cult increased and they came to venerate them as guardian geniuses who watched over the fate of those who adored them; They believe that these heroes helped them in their misfortunes and sent them prophetic dreams.

Thus we find that each city or town had its divine patrons; the ten tribes of Athens honored the hero whose name he bore; something similar happened in Sparta , in Phocis and others. Cases of animal worship have been known, many bees have established honeycombs on the remains of human and animal carcasses. An example of this can be found in a biblical passage where it is related that a swarm that deposited its honey in the bones of a lion and yet, for that reason, the animal was not considered holy.

The historian Víctor Duruy points out that the Athenians elevated to the status of hero a doctor whose name has not come down to us, and to whom, when he died, they dedicated a priesthood and consecrated many offerings to him as proof of his miraculous cures. that Hippocrates , on the Isle of Cos , and Brasidas, in the city ​​of Amphipolis , received divine honors. Given this, Duruy exposes the following conclusion:

«It was neither more nor less than the cult of the saints; some of ours are reputed to cure certain diseases. This cult has existed almost everywhere. ”

In the Book of Wisdom (chapter 14, verses 1 to 21) of the Old Testament of the Bible , the way in which the worship of some characters can arise when they die is described:

A father, gripped by bitter pain, makes an image of the son who has just been taken from him and the man who died then now honors him as a god, establishing among his servants mysteries and initiations. Then, over time, this custom is consolidated and kept as law, and statues are venerated by the decrees of the princes. […]

And the crowd, seduced by the perfection of the work, who until then honored him as a man, looked at him as a sacred thing. […]

and this became a bond for men.

This description conforms in its essence to the veneration of numerous gods, prophets , enlightened ones, messiahs, and particularly saints, in various religions. In speaking of the so-called “saints,” one must dwell on Catholicism . The New Testament says that when Jesus Christ died , {{system: quote | … many bodies of sleeping saints were resurrected, and coming out of the tombs they came to Jerusalem and appeared to many. | Gospel of Matthew , 27: 52-53).

We do not want to imagine the fright that the inhabitants of the City will have experienced , when those corpses appeared to them, no matter how holy they were. We do not know if after their walk they returned to the cemetery or if they stayed among the saints, of course, in our opinion, it is no more absurd. When referring to this passage, we must point out that the sanctity criterion referred to therein is the one that the Jews had, which is far from the Catholic one. For the Hebrews such a concept was expressed with the word «chassidut», and it specifically referred to the pious life of man, to carefully comply with the religious precepts, but they were not seen as sacred beings to whom they should worship or make offerings, because this was for them, idolatry and corruption.

For Catholics, the idea of ​​the existence of the saints is based on the religious belief that there is a soul ; that that soul is eternal; that there is a heaven where the immaculate spirits ascend; that after the person dies, his soul can continue in contact and communication with the living and with terrestrial events; that if he had heroic religious merits, the deceased person can acquire the special category of blessed, which brings him closer to God; and that being situated between living beings and God , that privileged and sanctified soul can intercede on behalf of individuals and manage miracles for them.

Some of these characters -according to them- become so extraordinary and achieve such good communication with God that, being alive, they are capable of performing supernatural, miraculous acts. The saints bear a certain resemblance to angels , in that mission that the Church attributes to them , as messengers or intermediaries between men and God. They are even worshiped within the same category, which is called dulía , which is below the adoration of God ( latria ) and the cult of the Virgin Mary ( hyperdulia). At this point it must be said that the Church advocates that the concept of worship is only used with respect to God, and that the worship of saints is based on honoring and invoking them, that is, that there is a limited veneration of them. However, for a high percentage of believers there are no such differences and they worship them as gods.

The difference that “within the religious mentality” there is between angels and saints, is that the former were always spirits ; and the second, they lived, were-supposedly- beings of flesh and blood. We say “supposedly” because there are saints who never existed as human beings, and who are the fruits of legends and fantasies .

The Bible rejects the cult of images

According to the Old and New testaments , the veneration of the images of the saints is not accepted. In Paul’s First Letter to Timothy (chapter 2, verse 5), Paul states that there is only one mediator between the god Yahweh and human beings, and that this is Jesus Christ. Therefore – according to Paul – the saints are not empowered to practice as “lawyers” before God. On the other hand, the Catholic practice of venerating images, whether in drawings or statuettes of those saints, is condemned by Moses, especially when the Hebrews distanced themselves from their teachings and worshiped a golden bull: «Beware of corrupting yourselves by doing some carved image, neither male nor female, and do not deceive yourselves by worshiping or worshiping him ”( Deuteronomy  4:16 and 19).

In the laws that Moses created for his Jewish people (the Ten Commandments) he included in the second:

Do not become an image of sculpture or figure of what is above, in the heavens, or below, on earth. You will not worship or worship them.

Deuteronomy (5: 8-9) and Exodus  (20: 4-5)

Influenced by those criteria, Protestants do not worship images in their temples; neither do Jews or Muslims. This type of veneration led to violent clashes. In the 7th and 8th centuries AD, there were the so-called “iconoclasts”, a word of Greek origin that means ‘the one who breaks images’; They were Christians who dedicated themselves to destroying sacred images (icons), so that they would not be worshiped, as it was a practice similar to the pagan veneration of idols.

In 726 the Emperor of the East, Leo III the Isauricus , prohibited having religious images in the temples, and only allowed that of Jesus Christ. In another edict written three years later, he imposed the death penalty on whoever carried out that type of veneration, public or private, ordered the destruction of all the icons that were discovered. In the West, the practice of making religious paintings and sculptures and worshiping them was maintained and increased. At the Lateran council , held in 769 , Pope Stephen IV authorized veneration of images, and this was later ratified by Pope Hadrian I , during the council of Nicea , in 787, where in addition the iconoclasts were condemned.

During the reform, the Protestants, once again imbued with the iconoclastic spirit , fought against this custom and destroyed many pictures and sculptures of virgins and saints, including some true works of art , such as those of the cathedral of Ghent (in Belgium ). Today we see that there are paintings of invaluable value, dedicated to honoring religious figures. This was largely an imperative of the time, when brush masters were forced – materially or spiritually -To deal more with religious issues than with human problems, they had to represent heaven instead of painting the world in which they lived. Such works should be seen as a manifestation of the social superstructure existing then and strictly appreciate them in their artistic value, stripped of their mystical aura.

In the same way we must see the saints. If they really existed as people, to value them depending on their contribution to humanity, to the economic, political, social, scientific or cultural development of the world, in the same way that we value the contribution of Pythagoras to mathematics and reject their mystical ideas about the numbers . So; With equal realism and fairness we appraise a Christian or a Jew , a Muslim or a Buddhist , a saint or a heretic .

Examples of some names of saints and angels

The saints: For Catholics , the saints form the so-called triumphant Church and intercede before God for humanity, for the living on Earth and for the deceased in Purgatory : it is the so-called communion of saints . All of them, even those who have been officially recognized as such, have their joint festival on All Saints’ Day , which is celebrated for Catholics on November 1, an example of which are these saints:

  • Saint John Bosco ( January 31 ): He is one of the most beloved saints of children and young people, dedicated to their formation in body and soul.
  • Saint Joseph ( March 19 ): husband of the Virgin Mary and custodian of the baby Jesus .
  • Santa Catalina Siena ( April 29 ): Dominican religious who had a great love for Jesus.
  • Santa Rosa de Lima ( May 7 ): Dominican religious – [[] Peru]] ana who dedicated her life to Jesus. She is the first saint of America .
  • Santa Rita de Casia ( May 22 ): patron saint of the impossible.
  • Saint Peter the Apostle ( June 29 ): first pope of the Church , died a martyr in Rome .
  • Saint Maria Goretti ( July 29 ): she was 12 years old, and preferred martyrdom over sinning: she carries in her arms a lily flower garland as a symbol of purity and a palm leaf that is martyrdom.
  • Saint Clare ( August 11 ): religious and companion of Saint Francis of Assisi , dedicated to prayer and leading a poor life centered on God .
  • La Caridad del Cobre ( September 8 ): Our Lady of Caridad del Cobre who is the Virgin of Charity is Patroness and Queen of Cuba and the mother of all Cubans .
  • Saint Therese of the Child Jesus ( October 1 ): religious of the Order of Carmen , discovered for everyone the value of simplicity to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
  • San Cristóbal ( November 16 ): martyr of Christian antiquity and his name means “he who leads Christ” and is the Patron Saint of Havana.
  • Saint Lucia ( December 13 ): as a martyr he carries a palm leaf in his left hand and since his eyes were gouged out he carries them in his right hand, that’s why those with vision problems pray to him.
  • Saint Anthony of Padua ( June 13 ): He was a preacher and presents an extraordinary charism to perform miracles and is the evangelical doctor who does not disappoint those who ask him in faith for his intercession.

Angels: Angels come from ancient polytheistic beliefs ; they are the evolution of gods, demons and primitive spirits . The relationship of angels with nature appears in post- Biblical Hebrew literature , in the so-called book of Enoch where numerous prince angels are mentioned. Their names formed with the word representing certain quality or natural phenomenon , and the ending “the” (related to the god Ugaritic Ël ) with which you indicated the divine character. Thus we find, among others, a:

  • Baradiel (de barad), angel prince of hail.
  • Raamiel (de ra’am), angel prince of thunder.
  • Barakiel (from barak), angel prince of lightning.
  • Rujiel of the wind;
  • Shalgiel, from the snow;
  • Shamsiel, of daylight;
  • Zaamael of the storm;
  • Zafiel, from the hurricane;
  • Zavael of the whirlwind;
  • Galgaliel, from the solar disk;
  • Kojbiel, from the stars;
  • Rajatiel, of the planets;
  • Ziquiel, of the comets;
  • Matariel, from the rain;
  • Lailahel, of the night;
  • Raphael, remedy of the god Ël;
  • Gabriel, strength of the god Ël;
  • Miguel, who like the god Ël?

Other religions that the saints worship

The most classical Protestantism usually calls the characters of the New Testament saints , without giving rise to any cult . By tradition, some Protestant countries have retained the patronage of the saints who they attribute to having played an important role in their evangelization : Saint Bridget in Sweden , Saint Olaf in Norway , etc.

  • Islam: In theory, Islam rejects any worship that does not address Allah . However, Shiism recognizes saints whose graves are pilgrimage destinations.

The African Islam also practiced a cult of saints called marabouts .

The Sufism knows the wali , expression capable of being translated as holy.

  • Buddhism:the Buddhists in their doctrine worship the arahants and bodhisattuas , and, in Tibet , the lama monks .
  • Hinduism:practitioners of the Hinduism do reverence to its gurus or holy men , spiritual teachers living ascetic .


Leave a Comment