Celebrating the saints

In Christianity, 'saint' has a variety of meanings. The English word is a translation of the Greek hagios, which means 'to set apart', 'to sanctify' or 'to make holy'. The original Christian usage referred to any believer who is 'in Christ', whether in heaven or in earth. A saint therefore is a follower of Christ, who models her or his life on Jesus. Saints live in the reality of Jesus' resurrection life in and through them and their Christian communities. The saints are our family, for we are one Body.

The Anglican Church celebrates a number of saints from Christian life throughout the centuries. There saints like the first apostles and followers of Jesus (many of whom were martyred). There are significant saints who have lived lives of exemplary holiness and courage. And there is each of us.

Saints

We remember and celebrate the saints for they witness to the way of Christ and their stories strengthen and encourage us as Christ's followers. Each saint has a story and a reason why he or she led an exemplary life.

For major saints, the liturgical colour is red. Red is the colour of fire and thus symbolizes the Spirit of God, the presence of God. It is also the liturgical colour for Pentecost. It is considered the colour of the Church and is therefore used to celebrate martyrs and saints.

We have chosen a red Jerusalem cross for our saints' day service booklet. It has many symbolical interpretations.

  • Jesus is represented by the central cross with the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John represented by the smaller crosses.
  • Another interpretation has the Old Testament teachings represented by the Tau Crosses, 'T', and the New Testament teachings by the four Greek crosses '+' — the teachings go to the four compass points of the world.
  • The Jerusalem cross may also be read as representing the five wounds of Jesus on the cross with the small crosses for the hands and feet and the large central cross for the spear wound in His side.
  • It is also called a Pilgrim's Cross, with the large central cross representing the pilgrim and the smaller crosses representing those who support and pray for the pilgrim during a pilgrimage.

The Jerusalem cross symbolises community, discipleship, proclamation and service, all aspects of sainthood.