In the Roman Catholic religion, saints are individuals who are known – according to church teachings – to be in heaven with God. The Catholic Church has canonized more than 10,000 saints. For centuries, beginning with the first Christian martyrs, those saints were essentially chosen by public acclaim as a way to recognize their good works and virtue during life. The church instituted a more rigorous process for the recognition of saints after the 10th century, which included evidence of performing multiple miracles. Pope John Paul II altered the canonization procedure in 1983 to require evidence of two miracles that have been performed through the proposed saint’s intercession after death.

Intercession

Catholics believe that saints have the ability to intercede on their behalf with God. Because saints are recognized for being exceptionally holy and are believed to have ascended to heaven, Catholics believe their prayers will be heard by God. Catholics, therefore, will pray to a specific saint in order to ask him or her to pray to God on their behalf. A miracle is often viewed as proof that such an intercession has occurred.

Patron Saints

Patron Saints are Catholic saints associated with certain life events, places, qualities, nations and crafts. Catholics in uncertain circumstances will often pray to the patron saint affiliated with their particular need, situation or even profession. For instance, an individual who is employed as a journalist might pray for divine intercession from St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.

Miracles

According to the Catholic Church, miracles are proof that a saint is in heaven and can intercede with God to change the course of ordinary events. Miracles are divine events that have no natural or scientific explanation. A saint does not have inherently divine powers that cause those miracles to occur. Instead, Catholics believe they are close enough to God to prompt such an intercession.

Do Saints Have Powers?

Legends surrounding some saints appear to indicate they were actually able to perform miracles during their earthly lives. St. Joseph of Cupertino, for instance, was reportedly prone to miraculous bouts of levitation that allowed him to fly. He also purportedly possessed the gift of healing. Medical miracles are the primary divine events attributed to saints, according to LiveScience, which reports some of those events can now be explained by modern science. A Vatican-appointed Miracle Commission reviews hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miraculous claims each year.