Mary and the Saints

In addition to the above, some churches will remember and celebrate the lives of past saints, and particularly that of the patronal saint where a church is named after one (e.g. St Mary’s Church). On most days of the Church calendar one or more past saints can be remembered and celebrated.

Orthodox and Catholic churches give particular emphasis to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the saints, and their churches will be filled with images of them. In the Orthodox tradition, this emphasises that when in worship, they are surrounded by previous Christians down through the ages, as one big, continuing family of faith. Catholic and Orthodox Christians both believe that the saints join with, and help, in their prayers to God. Catholics and Orthodox also express great devotion towards relics of past saints (bones, hair, clothes, etc.), often setting these in special statues or caskets and making these into places of pilgrimage, and sites of special blessing.

Protestants have generally shown less interest in saints, emphasising instead that all Christians are called to live holy and dedicated lives. Some protestants, such as Oliver Cromwell, were so against the veneration of saints that they destroyed their relics and memorials, as an expression of iconoclasm.

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