SAINTS AND PRAYING TO SAINTS - DR. GIL HAAS, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
This is Our Story
In 155 AD, Bishop Polycarp was martyred, his bones gathered and laid to rest, and his congregation annually celebrated his martyrdom. This perhaps is the earliest origin of a saint’s day. It was a small step subsequently to mention saints in all eucharists, and this became common about 400 AD. Intercessory prayers to saints were initiated in the late Fourth century, and this evolved to prayers requesting favors. The Reformed churches condemned as idolatrous the offerings, pilgrimages, and relic veneration that sought to obtain a saint’s favor. Article 22 of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England (Book of Common Prayer, p 872) regales this practice as “...a fond thing, vainly invented and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.” Basilicas were built over a saint’s tomb and dedicated to that saint. This began the practice of dedicating churches to a patron saint, and annual patronal festivals honor the patron saint. Our earliest Book of Common Prayer listed a modicum of saints’ days, but this list has expanded with time. Unlike Catholic practice that involves complicated procedures requiring papal approval, saints can be added to our calendar by the approval of two General Conventions.
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~Dr. Gil Haas, Saint Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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