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I flagged this answer as not an answer, which has now been declined.

The question is asking for evidence of the first (or early) examples of Christians who prayed/asked the saints to intercede for them.

This answer gives a quote, and here's the full version from the website it links to:

If the Apostles and Martyrs, while still in the body, can pray for others, at a time when they must still be anxious for themselves, how much more after their crowns, victories, and triumphs are won! One man, Moses, obtains from God pardon for six hundred thousand men in arms; and Stephen, the imitator of the Lord, and the first martyr in Christ, begs forgiveness for his persecutors; and shall their power be less after having begun to be with Christ? The Apostle Paul declares that two hundred three score and sixteen souls, sailing with him, were freely given him; and, after he is dissolved and has begun to be with Christ, shall he close his lips, and not be able to utter a word in behalf of those who throughout the whole world believed at his preaching of the Gospel? And shall the living dog Vigilantius be better than that dead lion? ("Contra Vigilant.", n. 6, in P.L., XXIII, 344).

This quote is saying that the dead saints can pray/intercede for us, but it is not evidence that Jerome prayed/asked them to intercede or encouraged others to do so. It just doesn't mention it!

As comments on the answer show, at least 5 people think this is not an valid answer.

  • I don't think it's a very good answer, but it is a very important point that should be part of an answer. It's close enough. – fredsbend Feb 2 '15 at 5:47
  • @fredsbend I don't think it is. Saying that the dead can pray to God for the living does not in any way imply that the living should ask the dead to do so. Many protestants believe the first but strongly reject the second. The fact that it's on a Catholic pro-intercession page only means that they have interpreted Jerome's quote to support their position. Probably Jerome said other things in other places, but this particular quote doesn't provide any evidence of Christians asking the dead. – curiousdannii Feb 2 '15 at 5:56
  • My observation of Protestant beliefs on the issue is that they are primarily silent about it, neither supporting nor rejecting that dead Saints pray at all. So it seems like a pertinent quote to me. – fredsbend Feb 2 '15 at 7:12
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    @curiousdannii Even if one were to accept your take on the topical issue, that would only make the answer "wrong" on a technicality but it still an attempt on the part of the author to address the right question. I don't think being wrong necessarily makes an answer NAA. – Caleb Feb 2 '15 at 10:50
  • @Caleb If it was a more general history of the practice question that would be right. But it's asking for specific evidence for the earliest document case. It's not that it's wrong, it's that it's answering a different question. – curiousdannii Feb 2 '15 at 11:01
2

I declined it because I followed the link in the answer, and the Catholic Encyclopedia linked to does, indeed, have to do with praying to dead saints

I agree that the quote that was copied into the answer doesn't address the question, but this portion of the linked article does:

Saint Jerome (347-420 AD) spoke of the practice with approval

If you read the entire article, the article itself is explicitly about praying for intercession. Probably because I'm wordy, I would have copied more, and made the answer more explicit. With that much source material, I'm not sure why he only copied that particular portion, but I'd hazard a guess:

I suspect that DJClayworth only copied that particular portion of that article because he was focusing on the earliest date.

At any rate, in my opinion, the answer was not clearly an answer, rather than clearly not an answer. Following the link makes it clear that this is talking about praying to dead saints, he just failed to include enough context.


I may be wrong, and you and several others may disagree, but that was the thought process behind it.

For what it's worth, it took me a bit of time to deliberate on that one. Typically, I don't have to think too hard about whether something is not an answer. In this case, I deliberated quite a bit before deciding how to react.

  • Even if the linked document in this case had not been relevant, I think the only fault in the answer would have been in being a "wrong" answer not in being NAA. Not being exactly what the OP was looking for in a case where some confusion can obviously exist over wording only makes an answer less useful, not actually NAA. – Caleb Feb 2 '15 at 10:47
  • @Caleb The question looks very clear to me - it's asking for evidence of practice not belief. – curiousdannii Feb 2 '15 at 11:08

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