“Where Does the Bible Say We Should Pray to Dead Saints?” – Resources about Communion of the Saints

by Steve Ray on March 10, 2016

I compiled a list of Catechism, Scripture and quotes from the early Church Fathers and even archaeology to assist in understanding the Communion of Saints.

You can download the source material here.


Graffiti found in Catacombs of St. Sebastian

Who should carry the most weight—Protestant pastors protesting Catholic theology today or pastors from the early Church who have the words of the Apostles still ringing in their ears?

From earliest times Christians went to the gravesites of saints and asked them to pray for them. This picture shows graffiti from the Catacombs of St. Sebastian in Rome with inscriptions in Hebrew, Greek and Latin imploring the prayers of Peter and Paul. “Petrus and Paulus, pray for us!”  “Peter and Paul, pray for victory.”

 St. Cyril

"Peter and Paul, pray for us"

In 350 A.D., St. Cyril wrote a remarkable and exquisitely detailed description of the Mass, which clearly corresponds with today’s Mass. In it we find this beautiful statement on the family of God which we all belong to, and which even today we pray for in every Mass:

“Upon completion of the spiritual Sacrifice, the bloodless worship, over that propitiatory victim, we call upon God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world, for kings, for soldiers and allies, for the sick, for the afflicted, and in summary, we all pray and offer this Sacrifice for all who are in need.

“Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition; next, we make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already fallen asleep; for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn Sacrifice is laid out.”           (The Faith of the Early Fathers,’ Vol. 1, William A. Jurgens, [Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1970] p. 363.). 

The faithful in heaven and on earth are united in the Mystical Body of Christ through the Person of Jesus. This is the meaning of the Communion of Saints.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Saved February 1, 2013 at 1:25 AM

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.


Saved February 2, 2013 at 2:55 AM

Steve, I lay no claim as an expert in theology. I have met protestant men and women who clearly have the peace of God and the fruit of the Spirit. Likewise, I have met many Catholic men and women who possess the same. If I were at an elementary school with my children and you were as well holding hands while in a circle around the flag pole should I be condemned if I make the sign of the cross? Should my children? Should I, as an adult, as a believer in Jesus Christ, condemn you if you do not? Should I say that you and your children will be treated as heathens? Certainly not to either. Change the location to an abortion clinic. How about a street overtaken by drugs and violence? A mission trip to serve others and pray they not see us but Christ’s love in us. While we argue over doctrinal issues we are rapidly losing ground. Do I agree that if Mary had said no that it would have stopped Gods plan of salvation? Absolutely not. Mary is a holy woman who was full of courage and grace. God knew her answer before time came into being. Likewise, I agree faith without works is dead. We are saved for good works not by good works lest we should boast. If you and I sat down could we be civil and agree to disagree on doctrine? Could we agree that Jesus is the way the truth and the light? A lot of words for this…if we could not then we better spend more time in the Word and less time on your site. ; )…no offense intended. God bless you and yours.

Saved February 2, 2013 at 3:19 AM

I did mean life…not light. Told you.

Maxi March 10, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Dear De Maria… In the name of the Father,and of the Son,and of the Holy Spirit, You and Steve did a great job for defending the truth teaching of the Holy Catholic Church and will continue until the end of the world.

JonX April 17, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Two really obvious points: 1) These references are long after the Apostles were dead so “no ringing in their ears” stems from them. 2) What you’ve actually shown is a transitional period when the Church thought of the saints praying for us to a later time when we began to pray to them.

Jan March 10, 2016 at 5:34 PM

Thank you Steve! Always blessed by your faithfulness to the Church and sound doctrine. Brothers and sisters in Christ are praying for you to keep up the good work.

Barry December 12, 2017 at 11:08 AM

Would you please read the Lord's prayer. Jesus prayed it. He was giving an example on how to pray. He didn't pray to Peter, Paul, Mary, or John-who took care of Jesus's mother and wrote Revelation. No He prayed to His Father. This is Jesus Himself praying, should we not follow Him, like He asked Peter and His disciples to follow Him. This reference in 350AD is close to 270 years or more after the disciples died. The disciples who wrote the gospel. Do their words of what Christ told them mean nothing?

STEVE RAY HERE: First, thanks for writing Barry and God bless you.

Second, well you need to remember that the words pray and worship are two different words with different meanings. Pray Is to ask for something, it means a petition or a request.

Third, when we pray to Saint it is not worshiping them. It is asking them to intercede WITH us as we pray to God himself. God is the only one who can answer prayers.

Fourth, when Jesus was on the earth the Saints were not yet in glory. When Jesus ascended to heaven he brought the dead with him to the presence of God. From that point on they’re in the presence of God himself and can intercede personally for people still on earth (or do you think they can’t or don’t care?)

Fifth, we are to pray for each other and to ask others to pray for us. We believe the church is one organic body not split up and divided and those in heaven are part of the body of Christ like we are. We ask them to intercede for us just like I could ask you to intercede for me. Even though I can’t see you or talk to you personally but I can use technology to do it. I don’t know how spiritual technology works but I certainly trust the Scriptures and the church That the Saints are very much alive in the presence of God, are concerned about what’s going on down on earth and can easily request from God benefits on our behalf.

Sixth, Believers have been asking for the prayers of the Saints since the beginning. All one has to do is look at the graffiti left in the catacombs to see where they said from the first centuries “Peter and Paul pray for us”. In the catacombs of Saint Sebastian there’s one segment of wall covering the area where the bodies of Peter and Paul wants rested and there are 614 requests for intersession scratched into the wall from the very first Christians.

Seventh, this is just scratching the surface. There is so much more to say but if you’re interested you’ll find the sources. If you’re not then I feel sorry for you.

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