To the right is a photo of Lojze Grozde is displayed in front of Roman Catholic priests attending the mass in Celje, Slovenia, Sunday, June 13, 2010. Grozde, who died in 1943 at the age of 20, is the first beatified martyr in the predominantly Roman Catholic country, ruled by the communists until its 1991 independence.
We speak quite often in the Catholic Church of angels, saints and martyrs. All three are very holy beings that are blessed to spend eternity in the Beatific Vision – that is they are in Heaven with God. Angels, saints and martyrs are held up as examples of exemplary natures for us to strive to attain. Following is a list of a definition fitting each category of holy beings (the definitions are from, The Pocket Catholic Dictionary by John A. Hardon, S.J.)
Angels: a pure, created spirit, called angel because some angels are sent by God as messengers to humans. An angel is a pure spirit because he has no body and does not depend for his existence or activity on matter. The Bible tells us that the angels constitute a vast multitude beyond human reckoning. They differ in perfection of nature and grace. The existence of angels has been twice defined by the Church: at the Fourth Lateran Council and at the First Vatican Council. [link to angels post]
Saints: A name given in the New Testament to Christians generally, but early restricted to persons who were eminent for holiness. In the strict sense, saints are those who distinguish themselves by heroic virtue during life and whom the Church honors as saints either by her ordinary universal teaching authority or by a solemn definition called canonization. The Church’s official recognition of sanctity implies that the persons are now in heavenly glory, that they may be publically invoked everywhere, and that their virtues during life or martyrs death are a witness and example to the Christian faithful.
Hagiography: The writings or documents about the saints and saintly people. It began with records of the martyrs, including the dates and manner of their deaths. Later it was extended to the lives and data of all the saints.
Martyr: a person who chooses to suffer, even to die, rather than renounce his or her faith or Christian principles. After the example of Christ, one does not resist his or her persecutors when they use violence out of hatred or malice against Christ, or his Church, or some revealed truth of the Catholic religion.
Particular Feast Days for the angels, saints are martyrs can be celebrated every day of the year. If the priest chooses to celebrate a Feast day of an angel or saint, his vestments will be white; for a martyr his vestments will be red.
The Columbus Catholic Connection: Parishes commonly choose a saint to be the patron of their local church and parish. Discover more about the patron saint of your parish by asking the Pastor or searching parish records.