Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians place great importance and value on honoring saints. To Catholics saints are per-
The Hail Mary (Ave Maria)
Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
sons who have led exceptionally holy lives and who have been formally recognized by the church as having achieved an honored position in heaven. This entitles them to respect and devotion on earth. For Orthodox churches saints are likewise holy people recognized as such by their community. Orthodoxy does not have the saint-making structures and requirements
Paintings of saints on the walls of an 11th-century Christian church in Cappadocia, Turkey. For many Catholics and Orthodox Christians the saints are examples to imitate and from whom to draw inspiration. Statues of the saints are often prominently displayed in Catholic churches, as are icons (religious images) of saints in Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.
of the Catholic Church, trusting its local congregations to be wise in their evaluation of saints.
In the Catholic and Orthodox traditions the greatest of the saints is considered to be Mary, the mother of Jesus. Because they believe that Jesus Christ is God, Mary is referred to as the "Mother of God." Since Christ did not have a human father but "by the power of the Holy Spirit was born of Mary," Mary is also referred to as the Blessed Virgin. The special nature of her motherhood is told in the Gospel of Luke (1:26-38), where the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive the son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. The faith of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches finds great significance in Mary's role as the mother of Jesus. According to this teaching, when Mary became the moth-
er of Jesus, she also became the mother of the church itself that descended from him.
In the Gospel of John Jesus tells his beloved disciple John that he is now to consider Mary his own mother: "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, 'Woman, here is your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home." (John 19:26-27)
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