Just as we pray with friends, we can also pray with the Saints; they desire to help us draw closer to God.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”Hebrews 12:1
When you recite the Hail Mary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet, did you know you’re praying with the Saints? Mary, Queen of All Saints, and St. Faustina, to be exact. When we call on the venerated to support us in our prayer or recite their words to grow closer to God, we take part in the communion of the faithful in Heaven; our earthly realm moves beyond itself to experience that of the holy realm above.
What makes someone a saint?
As Christians, we believe it is our calling to become saints. The USCCB explains that saints are people in heaven who lived virtuous, heroic, and selfless lives or suffered martyrdom for the sake of our faith.
Officially, a capital-S “Saint” is someone who the Church has deemed worthy of imitation and honor for their heroically virtuous life. But this isn’t a simple process. It takes years and the testimony of many people to declare a person’s sainthood; you can read about the process here. If you aren’t familiar with many Saints, here are a few of our favorites at Hallow — they continue teaching us how to pray!
Most important to understand, however, is that Saints lived their earthly lives out of utmost love for their communities — some in service, some in prayer, and some in martyrdom. This love for their communities doesn’t stop at the end of their earthly lives. Rather, it is eternal.
Why should we pray with the Saints?
Saints were people like us who truly hallowed (made holy) their lives.
The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church’s history.Saint (Pope) John Paul II
Just as we don’t take on a big job without training or start a game without reading the instructions, the Saints serve as our guides in praising God, sharing our thankfulness, and easing our worries with their intercession. The word “intercession” stems from the Latin verb intercedere meaning “intervene, come between, be between.” We aren’t praying to the Saints but with them. And they’re always available — even at 4 a.m. when you can’t sleep.
Which Saints should I get to know?
If you aren’t familiar with many Saints, here are a few of our favorites at Hallow — they were true “prayer warriors” and continue teaching us how to pray. You can find prayers from each of these Saints in Hallow in Minutes (“Minute Saints”) and Challenges (“Saints”).
St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa of Avila is actually Hallow’s patron saint. We admire her courageousness to let her spiritual contemplation drive her sense of being in the world — teaching us that each of our souls has an “interior castle” to draw into as we grow closer to God. She is a wonderful Saint to lean on if you’re looking to grow closer to God through Christian meditation. She’s also one of the four female Doctors of the Church!
St. Ignatius of Loyola
We credit St. Ignatius with the origin of the Daily Examen. He was a deeply contemplative person and founded the Jesuit Order, also known as the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius inspires us to see the beauty of God in all areas of life — both tangible and intangible. At Hallow, we strive for this daily practice of discernment.
St. Catherine of Siena
Another Doctor of the Church, St. Catherine of Siena defended her faith beginning in her early life. She vowed her life to Christ and sought peace through her writing and participation in public affairs. She is considered one of the patron saints of Italy and likely wrote around 400 letters in her lifetime. We are inspired by her balanced life of contemplation and action.
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis, the other patron saint of Italy, devoted his life to poverty and promoting the beauty of creation. He founded the Franciscan Order, which values the simplicity of life in prayer and poverty. We recommend getting to know St. Francis if you love spending time outside in God’s creation, or if you’re looking for ways to simplify your life. We love his prayer to God for our vocation to sow peace and love in this life: “Make me an Instrument.”
When can I pray with the saints?
The great cloud of witnesses is always available to you. You can call on the Saints whenever you need support in something you’re struggling with, or anytime you are looking for a friend in prayer. The Saints didn’t live perfect lives, but they did learn how to lean on God, sow peace, and love others during their time on earth. Think of them as your friends or mentors in prayer.
How to pray: with saints
Below, we share 4 steps to start praying with the saints.
1. Identify a Saint that inspires you.
Choose a Saint to pray with that you’re drawn to for their life or their words. When we need protection, we call on the Holy Mother, Mary, to blanket us in the peace of God’s love. When we lose something, we call on St. Anthony (the patron saint of lost things) to find it. Saints become patrons through an affiliation with a place, event, occupation, or miracles that happen after their passing. There are many topics of which Saints are patrons — from pencil makers (St. Thomas Aquinas) to writers (St. Frances de Sales) to cyclists (La Madonna del Ghisallo).
2. Draw meaning from their life or words.
Once you have a Saint you identify with, find a prayer they wrote during their lifetimes, or read about a holy event in their lives, and meditate on the words of the prayer or image of the event. Similar to the practice of Lectio Divina, see what sticks out to you during this time or season in your life. Slow down and rest with the Saint you’ve chosen to pray with.
3. Speak and pray openly with them.
Lastly, talk to the Saint as you would a friend. They know what it’s like to be human: to struggle, to laugh, to love, to sin, and to seek forgiveness. We can turn to them as our friends journeying in faith with us. Share with them what’s on your mind, the prayers you’re needing, and any wisdom or comfort you need at the moment.
4. Let them lead you to holiness.
As you being to pray more often with the Saints, let their model of holiness on earth transform you. You don’t need to take on the type of life they lived or make the same vows of poverty or chastity. However, you can replicate their prayer practices if they guide you to live a life of peace, love, and service to God and others.
We now have a Daily Saint on the App, and we couldn’t be more excited for you to journey through the Communion of Saints with us! Each day, we include background on a Saint, and then we pray with a prayer, quotation, poem, or hymn written by him or her. It’s a great way for you to learn about the Saints and get to know some among the “great cloud of witnesses” that came before us.
You can also check out our shorter Saints Challenge, where we meditate on the lives and writings of some of Christianity’s most famous saints, or our Saints Prayers Praylist in the Sleep section of the App.