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The Early Church Fathers on the Intercession of the Angels and Saints.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. Church of Antioch, (A.D. c.30-40)
    St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107)
    St. Justin Martyr, (A.D. 100-163)
    St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    Pectorius of Autun, (end of 2nd to beginning of the 3rd century)
Church of Antioch, (A.D. c.30-40), one of the five major churches that composed the Christian Church before the East-West Schism, traces its origins to the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul.

Having described the martyrdom of St. Ignatius, the epistle continues:

"We were eye-witnesses of these things with tears; and we passed the whole night within doors, often with bendings of the knee and prayer calling upon the Lord to strengthen us who had been weakened by what had taken place. Having fallen asleep for a little while, some of us saw him of a sudden standing by us and embracing us, whilst others, again, saw the blessed Ignatius praying over us.. . . And we have made known to you the day and the time (of his martyrdom); in order that being assembled together, we may communicate with the champion and noble martyr of Christ, who trod under foot the devil, arid finished, according to his Christ-loving desire, his course, in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Martyr. S. Ignatii, n. 7.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 320-321

St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107), Syrian; ecclesiastical writer, bishop, martyr. A disciple of St. John, the Apostle; he was bishop of Antioch, in which see he succeeded St. Peter, or, as others think, Evodius. He is supposed to have governed that church for about forty years. He suffered martyrdom at Rome in the year 107.

"Subject to your bishop, as to the commandment, and to the presbytery likewise . . . my spirit be your expiation, not now only, but when I shall have attained to God."

Ep. ad Troll, n. 13.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 320

St. Justin Martyr, (A.D. 100-163), Samaritan; born in Sichem (Naplousia) in Palestine; a platonic philosopher, apologist, and martyr for the faith; he was a convert to Catholic Christianity in A.D. 133. He wrote two Apologies for the Christian religion, one addressed to Antoninus, the other to Marcus Aurelius. He was martyred at Rome in the year 163.

"Hence we have also been called Atheists, and we confess that we are unbelievers (Atheists) of such pretended gods, but not of the most true (God), and Father of righteousness and temperance, and of the other virtues, and of a God in whom there is no mixture of evil: but both Him, and the Son who came from Him, and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels that follow and resemble (Him, or them), and the prophetic spirit, we venerate and adore, honoring in reason and truth, and freely delivering, to every one who wishes to learn, even as we have been taught."

Apol i. n. 6.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 321

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

"As Eve, through the discourse of a (fallen) angel, was seduced so as to flee from God, having transgressed His word; so also Mary, through the discourse of a (good) angel, was evangelized so as to bear God, being obedient to His word. And if Eve disobeyed God, yet Mary was persuaded to obey God, that the virgin Mary might be come the advocate of the virgin Eve. And as the human race was bound to death through a virgin, it is saved through a virgin; the scales being equally balanced; virginal disobedience by virginal obedience."

Adv. Hceres. L. v. c. xix. p. 316.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 322

St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

"The perfect Christian prays together with angels, as being already the equal of angels; nor is he ever out of the holy guardianship, even though he may pray alone, he has the choir of the holy ones standing by."

Strom. L. vii. p. 879.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 323

Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels... as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep.

On Prayer II [A.D. 233]

"Wherefore, it is not unfitting to offer up supplication, and intercession and thanksgiving (1 Timothy 2) to the saints, . . . that they may aid us, making us worthy to attain to the power bestowed on them for the forgiveness of sins: unless perhaps, although one be not a saint, but we have injured him, it be granted us, when we have become sensible of the offence committed against him, to supplicate such a one, to bestow forgiveness on us who have been guilty of the injustice. But if these are to be offered up to holy men, how much more is thanksgiving to be made to Christ who has, by the will of the Father, benefited us so greatly?"

T. i. De Oratione, n. xiv. p. 221.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 326-327

"If we wish that there be a multitude of those whom we desire to be kindly disposed towards us, we learn that "ten thousand times a hundred thousand stand before him, and thousands of thousands minister to him." (Daniel 7.) who, regarding as relatives and friends those who imitate their piety towards God, co-operate in the salvation of those who call upon God, and pray sincerely, appearing to them, and thinking that they ought to obey, and, as though by some compact, to come, for the benefit and salvation of those who are praying to God, to whom they also pray. For they "are all ministering spirits, etc." (Hebrews 1:14) Jesus has taught us not to despise the little ones in the Church, saying, "that their angels always see the face of my Father, who is in Heaven"

T. i. Contr. Cels. l. viii. n. 34, pp. 766-7.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 328-329

Pectorius of Autun, (end of 2nd to beginning of the 3rd century), French, nothing is known of his personal history. The name with which the important document frequently known as the Inscription of Autun concludes. Authorship of this Inscription is usually attributed to him.

Aschandius, my father, dearly beloved of my heart, with my sweet mother and my brethren, remember your Pectorius in the peace of the Fish [Christ]

Epitaph of Pectorius [A.D. 373]



Catholics are persuaded that the angels and saints in Heaven, replenished with charity, pray for us, their fellow members of the Church. They rejoice in seeing God and in seeing Him they know in Him all things suitable to their happy state and that God may be inclined to hear their requests made in our behalf and, for their sake, grant us many favors. For this reason, we believe that it is good and profitable to invoke their intercession.

    • Can the manner of invocation be more injurious to Christ our Mediator, than it is for one Christian to ask for the prayers of another here on earth?

That said, Catholics are not taught so to rely on the prayers of others as to neglect their own duty to God, in:

    • imploring His divine assistance and goodness
    • mortifying the deeds of the flesh
    • despising the world
    • loving and serving God and their neighbor, and
    • following the footsteps of Christ our Lord, who is the way, the truth, and the life: to whom be honor and glory for ever and ever.



The Church's Scriptures that support the Intercession of the Angels and Saints:


Moses intercedes for the Israelites before the Lord.

11 And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs which I have wrought among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.". . . 13 But Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for thou didst bring up this people in thy might from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that thou, O LORD, art in the midst of this people; for thou, O LORD, art seen face to face, and thy cloud stands over them and thou goest before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if thou dost kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard thy fame will say, 16 `Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to give to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness.' 17 And now, I pray thee, let the power of the LORD be great as thou hast promised, saying, 18 `The LORD is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.' 19 Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray thee, according to the greatness of thy steadfast love, and according as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." 20 Then the LORD said, "I have pardoned, according to your word."

Numbers 14:11-20

Angel presents Tobit and Sarah's prayer to God

12 And so, when you and your daughter-in-law Sarah prayed, I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One; and when you buried the dead, I was likewise present with you.

Tobias 12:12

Judas Maccabeus demonstrates that it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the faithfully departed.

[Note: If you don't think that Maccabees should be part of the Scriptures, you still can't deny the historicity of the document, unless you want to deny history.]

40 Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. 41 So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; 42 and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. 43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. 44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

2 Maccabees 12:40-45

Angels hold care over every child born into this earthly world

10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in Heaven.

Matthew 18:10

The rich man asks that Lazaruz intercede for his five brothers.

19 "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' 25 But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' 27 And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' 29 But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' 30 And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31 He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'


Luke 16:19-31

Join me by your prayers to God on my behalf

30 I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.


Romans 15:30-32

Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all God's holy people, and pray for me to be given an opportunity to open my mouth and fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.

Ephesians 6:18-19

Paul states that he has not ceased praying for his fellow Christians.

9 And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.


Colossians 1:9-10

We always pray for you

11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.


2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Brothers, pray for us, for not all have faith.

1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men; for not all have faith.


2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

Angels serve and helps us in this earthly life to obtain salvation

13 But to what angel has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet"? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?

Hebrews 1:13-14

Angel offers prayers of the holy ones to God

8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 5:8

Prayers of the saints raise up with the incense to God.

3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; 4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.


Revelation 8:3-4

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