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How Saints are Called

People serve God in different ways. The Heavenly Father bestows talents in needed measure and accepts the efforts of each in His Glory. The Church glorifies God’s workers in different ranks.

Prophets — are persons who receive the gift of foresight from God, relating to the world the paths of His Providence. Among the most revered prophets are: Elijah (remembered August 2), John the Baptist (July 7, September 11). Among well-known women-prophets there is, for example, the Righteous Anna (February 16).

Apostlesdisciples of Christ, accompanying Him in His public service, and later spreading faith throughout the world. The Apostles Peter and Paul (July 12) are considered the Heads of the Apostles.

Equal-to-the-Apostles — are saints who, like the Apostles, labored to turn countries and peoples to Christ. Such are the baptizer of Rus Prince Vladimir (July 28) and the Princess Olga (July 24); the Emperors Constantine and Elena (remembered together on October 18).

Hierarchal Saints — patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops, attaining sainthood by tireless care of their flock, guarding Orthodoxy from heresy and schisms. Among their great number the Russian people particularly revere the following: Nicholas (December 19 and May 22), Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John the Chrysostom (remembered together on February 12); the Moscow Hierarchs Peter, Aleksey, Jonah, Philip, Job, Ermogen and Tikhon (remembered together October 18).

Venerable (coming to resemble the Lord) — saints, attaining glory in monastic toil. Through fasting, prayer, labors they formed in their souls great virtues — humility, chastity, meekness. Probably every monastery is glorified before God with a holy saint. In Russia, St. Sergius of Radonezh (July 18 and October 8) and St. Seraphim of Sarov (January 15 and August 1) are particularly loved. Among the venerable women the most well-known is St. Mary of Egypt (April 14).

Martyrs, who among saints constitute the majority, went through suffering and death in Christ’s name, for the true faith, for refusing to serve idols. Those who suffered particularly harsh punishments are called great martyrs. Among them are: the healer Panteleimon (August 9), George the Victory-Clad, Saints Barbara (December 17) and Catherine (December 7). Hiero-martyrs are those who suffered death as priests, and venerable martyrs are those who were killed in monastic orders.

Confessors the Church calls those, who suffered much for Christ, but did not suffer a martyr’s death.

The good and true tsars and princes used the greatness and riches God gave them for works of mercy, enlightenment, protection of public holy relics. Among them are Alexander Nevsky (September 12 and December 6) and Dmitry Donskoi (June 1)

Unmercenaries had the gift of healing and used it without compensation. Such doctors were the Saints Cosmos and Damian (July 14).

Fools-for-Christ, taking on the appearance of madness and suffering defamation from those around them, exposed human vices, brought those in power to their senses, comforted the suffering. One of these is Xenia of St. Petersburg (February 6)

Passion-bearers in Russia are honored separately, those who died at the hands of murderers and bandits. The first Russian saints were the princes/passion-bearers Boris and Gleb (August 6).

Angels — are incorporeal spirits, servants of God, messengers of His will. The highest among the angels is the Archangel Michael (November 21).

Saints which do not fit in any of these categories are honored as righteous. The Church thus calls the Saints Joachim and Anna (September 22), Zacharius and Elisabeth (July 8), John of Kronstadt (January 2).

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