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Roman Catholics and other branches of Christianity have a concept of sainthood, where they bestow a status to someone based on posthumous miracles attributed to them. They also pray to them.

Generally in discussing Avodah Zarah or Shittuf issues with Christianity, the focus tends to be on their founding figure. But what is the status of things attributed to "saints," most specifically images or symbols of them?

Is this also regarded as an Avodah Zarah on equal status with, for example, a cross, or does it have some lesser status?

  • Baruch shekivanti. About a month back I was going to ask this very question.however in researching this I came to the conclusion that catholics in fact do not pray to saints, they do not consider them to be part of the Godhead, rather they view them as conduits to their deity lehavdil but similar to tzaddikim being meilitz yosher for us. Right now I don't have the sources which support that but hopefully later I will. – Shoel U'Meishiv Apr 22 '15 at 17:24
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    @Mefaresh speaking as a Catholic (if that is appropriate) you are correct; we do not believe that saints are in any sense equal to or part of the Deity. Rather, they are treated as trusted friends whom we can approach to request their prayers for us. Has Judaism such a concept? – Matt Gutting Apr 22 '15 at 17:27
  • @MattGutting Judaism has a slightly similar concept in that we believe that the righteous who have passed can due to their merits serve as representative for us to plead our case and for our favor. But in no way shape or form do we ever pray to them. – Shoel U'Meishiv Apr 22 '15 at 17:30
  • @MattGutting, yes it does. There are also opponents within Judaism to doing that. However, one distinction I see is that the Catholic saint is granted some sort of official status, and I get the impression (although I don't know) the prayer is more "praying" for intercession rather than a simple request. – Yishai Apr 22 '15 at 17:31
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    @MattGutting, Well, it has a question about that, and some solid answers to the question. – Yishai Apr 22 '15 at 17:48
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According to Catholic Doctrine Catholics do not pray to Saints as a deity-thus it would not be considered "shittuf" as they are not joining or raising Saints to the level of the Divine. Rather, according to this site Catholics use them as emmisaries and intermediaries in their requests, and that the saint will argue for you to their deity.

According to this site the difference lies between prayer and worship:

The Difference Between Prayer and Worship

Many non-Catholic Christians believe that it is wrong to pray to the saints, claiming that our prayers should be directed to God alone. Some Catholics, responding to this criticism, have argued that we do not pray to the saints but with them.Both groups, however, are confusing prayer with worship. True worship (as opposed to veneration or honor) does indeed belong to God alone, and we should never worship man or any other creature as we worship God. But while worship may take the form of prayer, as in the Mass and other liturgies of the Church, not all prayer is worship. When we pray to the saints, we’re simply asking them to help us, by praying to God on our behalf, or thanking them for having already done so.

Seemingly, there is precedence in Judaism for such a concept- albeit radically different than the Christian concept (they are not considered close "friends" and there are no tzaddikim set aside as "charms" for specific needs or requests) this mirrors the practice of asking Tzaddikim to be a "meilitz yosher" or an advocate in heaven.

This idea is mentioned in Gesher HaChaim Volume 2 25:9 in the name of the Zohar Parshas Acharei Mos

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    We don't thank tzaddikim. Hodaah belongs to Hashem alone – Shoel U'Meishiv Apr 22 '15 at 18:00
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    ??? You can't thank a Tzaddik for interceding on your behalf? What happened to Hakarat HaTov? – Double AA Apr 22 '15 at 18:11
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    Go to his grave and say "Hi Mr. Tzaddik. Good to be back. Your tombstone is looking mighty clean today. I got what I wanted in the end from God. It's really nice. I don't know exactly what you did up there but I really appreciate whatever it was. Thanks for your help. See you later!" I really have no idea why you claim "Hodaah is G-d's alone" when I thank living humans all the time for things. – Double AA Apr 22 '15 at 18:33
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    @Mefaresh I thank living people for doing normal things. I give them Hodaah. What does it matter what I'm thanking them for? Re your second question: I have no idea but a lot of Jews apparently seem to think they know the right people. – Double AA Apr 22 '15 at 18:52
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