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

by Steve Ray on June 15, 2018

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.

{ 10 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.

Dale Hadley June 15, 2018 at 9:41 AM

Referencing scratching on gravesites and ancient graffiti is pretty week. That's like me telling the building inspector that I built it wrong because the guy before me did. You can defend Christian Paganism if you like but really you should stay with the gospel that's what saves.

STEVE RAY HERE: First of all, I think you meant "weak", not "week." Second, these people still had the words of the apostles ringing in their ears long before the New Testament was collected into a final book. These early Christians were living the Gospel as taught them by the apostles. If my argument was from “scratching on gravesites” alone, I would agree it is a bit weak, but when you consider the preponderance of Scripture, Jewish practices and the teachings of the early Church it is overwhelming. I dare you to begin reading the Fathers of the Church who are authentic witnesses to the teaching and practice of the Apostles. Your idea of the "gospel" is very limited and mostly the result of the traditions of men in the last couple hundred years. Sorry, but you won't find the whole Evangelical Fundamentalist protestant theological innovations in the early Church.

De Maria September 2, 2018 at 10:53 PM

Kelsey December 17, 2012 at 9:34 PM
Several notes:

On the comment that you said for Matthew 10:40-42, it does not say “pray” to a righteous person. It says recognize. So admit that he or she is righteous, it does not say to pray.

The King James and other Bibles say,

Matthew 10:40-42
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

Protestants claim that one must only pray in the name of Christ, because Jesus Christ said:

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

When the whole Gospel is taken in context, it is clear that Jesus expected us to have recourse to the Saints in our prayers.

It also says in Luke 3:8 (NIV) “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”
So my point is Jesus was making a point that Abraham is not the Father, and that God can raise up everything and Abraham cannot.

Again, yours is the Protestant understanding of that verse. Whereas, that verse says that God is not a respecter of persons and it debunks the idea of salvation by faith alone. Jesus is saying, “Don’t think that God will answer your prayers simply because you are circumcized Jews, in order to be saved, you must produce righteous works meet for repentance.”

You also mention ” 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
Jesus is the mediator to God, not saints.

If that were all that Scripture said, you would be right. But you need to remove this verse from Scripture before you can claim that Jesus is the only mediator before the Father:

2 Corinthians 5:20 King James Version (KJV)

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

And Abel, is not better than God.

I didn’t say that he was. But that Scripture recognizes that Abel is still alive today. Even though he died.

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Just giving the other side :)

No problem. Sorry I missed it. But maybe this will help those who thought your objections couldn’t be answered.

Bill912 April 22, 2020 at 7:25 PM

Barry: Jesus did NOT pray the Lord's Prayer; he taught us to pray it. He never called His Father "Our Father" (although He told us to do so), because His Sonship and ours are not the same. He is the natural Son of God; we are the adopted sons. He never asked His Father to forgive His trespasses; Jesus is God; He committed no sins; He had no trespasses to be forgiven.

STEVE RAY HERE: Good points Bill. Thanks for all of your support and explanations over the years. It’s always much appreciated. Thanks!

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