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Bernadette Myers wrote:

Hi, guys —

My sister-in-law who is a non-denominational Christian asked me a question and I need help coming up with a good answer.

  • Why are most Catholic churches named after saints or the Blessed Virgin Mary instead of Christ?

She said it seems that we put Jesus to the side of the altar and worship Mary and the saints.
(Of course, she doesn't understand the Blessed Sacrament even though I have explained it.)

If you could help me with explaining the tradition and history behind why more Catholic Churches are named after saints and the Blessed Mother rather then Christ, I would be greatly appreciated


  { Why are Churches named after Mary and the Saints instead of Jesus? }

Mary Ann replied:

Bernadette —

While some parishes are named for Christ (Sacred Heart, Divine Savior, Holy Cross, Good Shepherd, etc.), most parishes are named after a patron saint.

A patron saint is just that, a patron, a friend at court. We have lost the idea of patron since we no longer have kings, but a patron is a person who looks out for your interests and sponsors you.

In the Church, a patron saint is a person you choose to be the one to pray especially for your parish or yourself.

Mary Ann

Mike replied:

Hi, Bernadette —

You said:

  • She asked why most Catholic churches are named for saints or the Blessed Virgin Mary instead of Christ?

Because Christ, who became an Incarnate, Real Man for us, is glorified and honored through the holy lives of both men and women who imitated the life of Our Lord Himself.

They are glorified and honored, not by anything they have apart from Jesus, but because they have let the Lord work through them in their lives.

Not me, but Christ working in me. (Galatians 2:20)

  • To a non-denominational Christian who doesn't understand the Eucharist, this is hard to understand.
  • For a faithful Catholic who understands the Eucharist, it makes perfect sense.

St. Paul encouraged us to imitate the saints in his epistles.

The primary goal of the Church on earth is the salvation of souls. The Church, after careful background studies, holds certain people up, who have lived very holy lives, as models of holiness for the members of the Church to follow. We know, for certain, these people are Saints, and the Church has affirmed, they are in Heaven.

The prime model of holiness, is our Immaculate, sinless, but 100 percent human mother,
Mary, Jesus's (and our) Mother.

We don't worship:

  • Mary or
  • the saints

We honor them and ask for their assistance and advice spiritually, through prayer. Besides, there are Churches named after Jesus — e.g.

  1. Church of the Sacred Heart
  2. Good Shepherd
  3. Holy Name of Jesus
  4. Church of the Infant Jesus
  5. etc.

I remember your previous question, and it sounds like your sister-in-law has learned the faith from those who are either:

  • ex-Catholics who left the Church and never knew the faith, or
  • someone, in general, who has a moral disagreement with the Church on one or more of her Teachings.

If your sister-in-law wants to know what Catholics really believe, tell her to pick up a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Amazon and get the faith from the source.


Bernadette replied:

Hi guys,

Thanks for your great answers!


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