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Intercession of saints
Intercession of the saints is a Christian doctrine common to the non-Protestant churches. Intercessory prayer is a petition made of God on behalf of others. If a believer prays for her children or friends, his enemies or leaders, then the believer is interceding on behalf of another. The doctrine of saintly intercession goes back to the earliest church. The justification for calling upon a saint in prayer is that the saints are both close to God, because of their holiness, and accessible to humans.
There is some evidence of a Jewish belief in intercession, both in the form of the paternal blessings passed down from Abraham to his children, and 2 Maccabees, where Judas Maccabaeus sees the dead Onias and Jeremiah giving blessing to the Jewish army. Jesus' parable of Dives and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 might indicate the ability of the dead to pray for the living. Paul's repeated references to Jesus Christ as "advocate" for the believers also indicates that Jesus, living at the right hand of God, will intercede (pray) for the believer. By extension, other holy persons who are dead might intercede on behalf of the petitioner.
Protestant churches strongly rejected all saintly intercession. By the 13th century, superstition had clouded the saint cults, and believers were developing saint cults as magic charms. The practice was attacked both by the Waldensians and the various Bogomil groups (including the Albigensians). The Calvinists and Zwinglians were particularly zealous in their rejection of saintly intercession. In the Church of England's Thirty-Nine Articles, the practice of invoking saints is derided, but the Oxford Movement led to a revival of the practice. In the Roman Catholic Church the practice is upheld, though the cult of saints is regulated by canon law. The practice is also upheld in the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches.
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