Virtually every religious tradition has the custom of venerating the spiritually adept, holy men and women whose memory and spirit live on within the community's sacred memory. In Buddhism, there are boddisattvas; in Hinduism, there are medieval sants, the poet-saints who have fostered religious movements of their own; and in Islam, there are Sufis and other holy men for whom shrines are built for their enduring veneration. In Christianity, these holy people are called saints; for this reason, this entry will focus on the Christian veneration of saintliness.

Christians around the world have prayed to saints, deceased humans who have been posthumously deemed holy by church authorities and lay persons alike, since the early days of Christianity. Saints function as intercessors and mediators who deliver the ...

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