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Quote Archive: Intercession of the Saints

The “Becoming Catholic” series presents the biblical, philosophical, and historical evidence for why Eternal Christendom Founder, Joshua Charles, became and remains Catholic. The series table of contents is here.

This Quote Archive on the Intercession of the Saints is part of the Becoming Catholic series. Each archive of quotes is intended to serve as a reference source on the various topics addressed in the articles. They are periodically updated as more research is completed.

Apostolic Era Documents

Shepherd of Hermas (Book 3, Similitude 5, Ch. 5) (c. 80)

(Ch. 4) …[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, having been strengthened by the holy Angel, and having obtained from Him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lord understanding, and receive it from Him?”…

St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c. 215) (EAST)

St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata (Book 7, Ch. 12)

…So is he [the Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him

St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 210-258) (WEST)

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 56 (§5) (252)

(§5) …Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if any one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy

St. Methodius of Olympus (died c. 311) (EAST)

St. Methodius of Olympus, Oration Concerning Simeon and Anna (§14) (c. 300)

(§14) Hail to thee forever, thou virgin mother of God, our unceasing joy, for unto thee do I again return. Thou art the beginning of our feast; thou art its middle and end; the pearl of great price that belongest unto the kingdom; the fat of every victim, the living altar of the bread of life. Hail, thou treasure of the love of God. Hail, thou fount of the Son’s love for man. Hail, thou overshadowing mount of the Holy Ghost. Thou gleamedst, sweet gift-bestowing mother, of the light of the sun; thou gleamedst with the insupportable fires of a most fervent charity, bringing forth in the end that which was conceived of thee before the beginning, making manifest the mystery hidden and unspeakable, the invisible Son of the Father—the Prince of Peace, who in a marvelous manner showed Himself as less than all littleness. Wherefore, we pray thee, the most excellent among women, who boastest in the confidence of thy maternal honors, that thou wouldest unceasingly keep us in remembrance. O holy mother of God, remember us, I say, who make our boast in thee, and who in hymns august celebrate the memory, which will ever live, and never fade away. And do thou also, O honored and venerable Simeon, thou earliest host of our holy religion, and teacher of the resurrection of the faithful, be our patron and advocate with that Savior God, whom thou wast deemed worthy to receive into thine arms. We, together with thee, sing our praises to Christ, who has the power of life and death, saying, “Thou art the true Light, proceeding from the true Light; the true God, begotten of the true God”

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386) (EAST)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 23 (§9) (c. 350)

(§9) Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth.

St. Gregory Nazianzen (c. 329-390) (EAST)

St. Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 18 (§4) (374)

(§4) …Yes, I am well assured that his intercession is of more avail now than was his instruction in former days, since he is closer to God, now that he has shaken off his bodily fetters, and freed his mind from the clay which obscured it, and holds intercourse naked with the nakedness of the prime and purest Mind; being promoted, if it be not rash to say so, to the rank and confidence of an angel

St. Jerome (c. 342/347-420) (EAST/WEST)

St. Jerome, Against Vigilantius (§6) (406)

(§6) …You say, in your pamphlet, that so long as we are alive we can pray for one another; but once we die, the prayer of no person for another can be heard, and all the more because the martyrs, though they cry for the avenging of their blood [Apoc. 6:10], have never been able to obtain their request. If Apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, when they ought still to be anxious for themselves, how much more must they do so when once they have won their crowns, overcome, and triumphed? A single man, Moses, oft [Ex. 32:30, et al] wins pardon from God for six hundred thousand armed men; and Stephen, the follower of his Lord and the first Christian martyr, entreats pardon for his persecutors [Acts 7:59-60]; and when once they have entered on their life with Christ, shall they have less power than before?

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) (EAST)

St. John Chrysostom, Homily 26 on Second Corinthians (Ch. 2, §5) (c. 392)

(§5) …For he that wears the purple himself goes to embrace those tombs, and, laying aside his pride, stands begging the saints to be his advocates with God, and he that hath the diadem implores the tent-maker and the fisherman, though dead, to be his patrons. Wilt thou dare then, tell me, to call the Lord of these dead; whose servants even after their decease are the patrons of the kings of the world?

St. Augustine (354-430) (WEST)

St. Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean (Book 20, §21) (c. 400)

(§21) …It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers. But we build altars not to any martyr, but to the God of martyrs, although it is to the memory of the martyrs. No one officiating at the altar in the saints’ burying-place ever says, “We bring an offering to thee, O Peter! or O Paul! or O Cyprian!” The offering is made to God, who gave the crown of martyrdom, while it is in memory of those thus crowned. The emotion is increased by the associations of the place, and love is excited both towards those who are our examples, and towards Him by whose help we may follow such examples. We regard the martyrs with the same affectionate intimacy that we feel towards holy men of God in this life, when we know that their hearts are prepared to endure the same suffering for the truth of the gospel. There is more devotion in our feeling towards the martyrs, because we know that their conflict is over; and we can speak with greater confidence in praise of those already victors in heaven, than of those still combating here. What is properly divine worship, which the Greeks call “latria,” and for which there is no word in Latin, both in doctrine and in practice, we give only to God. To this worship belongs the offering of sacrifices [i.e. the Eucharist]; as we see in the word idolatry, which means the giving of this worship to idols. Accordingly we never offer, or require anyone to offer, sacrifice to a martyr, or to a holy soul, or to any angel. Anyone falling into this error is instructed by doctrine, either in the way of correction or of caution. For holy beings themselves, whether saints or angels, refuse to accept what they know to be due to God alone.

St. Augustine, Tractate 84 on the Gospel of John (§1) (c. 416-17)

(§1) …This it was that the blessed martyrs did in their burning love; and if we celebrate their memories in no mere empty form, and, in the banquet at which they themselves were filled to the full, approach the table of the Lord, we must, as they did, be also ourselves making similar preparations. For on these very grounds we do not commemorate them at that table in the same way, as we do others who now rest in peace, as that we should also pray for them, but rather that they should do so for us, that we may cleave to their footsteps; because they have actually attained that fullness of love, than which, our Lord hath told us, there cannot be a greater. For such tokens of love they exhibited for their brethren, as they themselves had equally received at the table of the Lord.

St. Augustine, City of God (Book 20, Ch. 9) (c. 419)

(Ch. 9) …For the souls of the pious dead are not separated from the Church, which even now is the kingdom of Christ; otherwise there would be no remembrance made of them at the altar of God in the partaking of the body of Christ, nor would it do any good in danger to run to His baptism, that we might not pass from this life without it; nor to reconciliation, if by penitence or a bad conscience any one may be severed from His body. For why are these things practiced, if not because the faithful, even though dead, are His members? Therefore, while these thousand years run on, their souls reign with Him, though not as yet in conjunction with their bodies. And therefore in another part of this same book we read, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth and now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works do follow them.” [Apoc. 14:13] The Church, then, begins its reign with Christ now in the living and in the dead. For, as the apostle says, “Christ died that He might be Lord both of the living and of the dead.” [Rom. 14:9] But he mentioned the souls of the martyrs only, because they who have contended even to death for the truth, themselves principally reign after death; but, taking the part for the whole, we understand the words of all others who belong to the Church, which is the kingdom of Christ.

Other Documents

Ancient Christian Inscription: Various Epitaphs (c. 250)1

Blessed Sozon gave back (his soul) aged nine years; may the true Christ (receive) your spirit in peace, and pray for us.

Ancient Christian Inscription: Various Epitaphs (c. 250)2

Gentianus, a believer, in peace, who lived twenty-one years eight months sixteen days, and in thy prayers ask for us, because we know that thou art in Christ.

Ancient Christian Inscription: Various Epitaphs (c. 250)3

Pray for your parents, Matronata Matrona. She lived one year, fifty-two days.

Rylands Papyrus 470 (c. 300)

Mother of God (hear) my supplications: suffer us not (to be) in adversity, but deliver us from danger. Thou alone.

Ancient Christian Inscription: Various Epitaphs (c. 350)4

Atticus, sleep in peace secure in thy safety, and pray anxiously for our sins.

Ancient Christian Inscription: Epitaph of Pectorius (c. 375)5

Aschandius, my father, beloved of my heart, with my sweet mother and my brothers, be mindful of your Pectorius abiding in the peace of the Fish [Christ]

Footnotes

  1. H.P.V. Nunn, trans., Christian Inscriptions (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920), 15. ↩︎
  2. H.P.V. Nunn, trans., Christian Inscriptions (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920), 16. ↩︎
  3. H.P.V. Nunn, trans., Christian Inscriptions (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920), 18. ↩︎
  4. H.P.V. Nunn, trans., Christian Inscriptions (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920), 18. ↩︎
  5. H.P.V. Nunn, trans., Christian Inscriptions (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920), 22. ↩︎
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