Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

I received a letter from a Jewish woman who asked:

Recently I have been advised that there is a Saint Esther and a Saint Moses. As a religious jew with friends of many denominations, I found this intriguing as no one has every mentioned this to me. I would appreciate if you could send me to sources where I might find out more of who these individuals are.

Thank you
Name Withheld

My response:

Hello, (Name)! We Catholics believe that all of the righteous Hebrews and Israelites -- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, Isaias, etc. -- are in Heaven, glorified, and so are definitely Saints. We believe that when Jesus died, He "descended into Hell" (meaning Sheol, not the place of damnation) and opened the gates to Heaven for all the Patriarchs and Prophets and righeous faithful who lived before Moshiach came and who'd faithfully anticipated His coming.

Now, the process of official "canonization" came to be over time, in order to protect the integrity of the meaning of Sainthood and to provide only good role models for the Christian faithful (the formally canonized Saints are those the Church holds out to be models of virtue, and people to emulate and learn from). To my knowledge, though, in the Latin Church the great Patriarchs and Prophets haven't been formally "canonized" though many, such as Elias, appear in the martyrology, and the Machabees are honored on 1 August in the traditional Latin Mass. Some of those who haven't been formally "canonized," might not have regular Feast Days in the liturgical year, but it doesn't mean that they are any less Saints. In fact, in our Litany of the Saints (which we pray often, esp. during ordinations and at the Easter Vigil), we invoke "All ye holy Patriarchs and Prophets" (see http://www.fisheaters.com/litanysaints.html for the litany).

In the Eastern Catholic Churches (and in the Orthodox Churches), King David and Elias have special Feast Days, and Esther is mentioned on the second Sunday before Christmas.
I have found other formally canonized Saints with the names of "Moses" or "Esther," but they are not the Moses and Esther of Tanach. Below are some links to information about them:



In any case, we Catholics can pray to Tanach's Moses and Esther, and to all the great faithful of Israel, and refer to them as "Saints." Of course, we believe that you, a physical daughter of Israel, can pray to them, too! So ask for their intercession, and pray that they intercede with God to lead the world to all Truth -- Moses, especially, who prefigures Christ: he's a mighty pray-er and intercessor for God's people (Exodus 32 and Deuteronomy 9)!

I hope this helps answer your question some, friend... If you have any more, I'd be more than happy to try to answer them for you (or at least find the answer).

His blessings on you!

This page updated with additional information on 29 August 2005

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