“Lesser” Saints?

Categories: Features

Jesus Sending out the Disciples

One of the things we often mention about St. Jude is how he was “oft-forgotten” and thus not invoked much until later. Thus, he would seem to be a “lesser” saint in some respect. But should we ever “bother” with lesser saints?

In the Supplement to the Third Part of the Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas is said to bring up this objection:

“If we ought to ask the Saints to pray for us, it can only be because we know they are acceptable to God. But the more saintly is a Saint, the more acceptable is his prayer to God. Consequently we ought always to make the greater Saints our intercessors with God, and never the lesser ones.” (Q. LXXII, Obj 2)

But Aquinas responds:

“Although the greater saints are more acceptable to God than the lesser, it is sometimes profitable to pray to the lesser; and this for five reasons. First, because sometimes one has greater devotion for a lesser saint than for a greater, and the effect of prayer depends very much on one’s devotion. Secondly, in order to avoid tediousness, for continual attention to one thing makes a person weary; whereas by praying to different saints, the fervor of our devotion is aroused anew as it were. Thirdly, because it is granted to some saints to exercise their patronage in certain special cases, for instance to Saint Anthony against the fire of hell. Fourthly, that due honor be given by us to all. Fifthly, because the prayers of several sometimes obtain that which would not have been obtained by the prayers of one.”

How fitting this is for our saintly friend!