Saints’ days

Traditionally, the Christian Church has recognised that certain people are especially holy because they have lived a life that is close to the Christian ideal. These people are called saints.

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A saint is officially recognised after death as being worthy of special honour (this is because a person’s whole life needs to be considered). Traditionally, saints’ days became times of feasting, celebration and a chance to have a day off work.

In some Christian denominations - for example, the Roman Catholic Church - saints continue to play a very important role. All the well-known saints have their own special day. A special Mass will be celebrated where worshippers will reflect on the inspiration a particular saint has given.

Saints are also important in the Church of Ireland, but in some churches they have little or no role to play - for example, Methodist and Presbyterian churches.

There are two main reasons why saints days are kept and why they are regarded by many Christians as being important:

  1. To help people remember – celebrating saints days is a way of ensuring that special people are not forgotten.
  2. To give Christians good examples – saints are the heroes or role models of the Church and remembering the stories of their lives gives people a good example to follow.
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