Saint, an epithet applied to (1) a person eminent for piety and virtue; (2) a consecrated or sanctified person. There are two words in the Hebrew Scripture used to express the above, both of which are rendered in our translation by the single expression Saint. חָסַיד, chasid (like the Gr. ὅσιος), denotes a mental quality; its most certain acceptation being pious, just, godly, etc. It is spoken of pious Hebrews (Ps 4:3; Ps 30:4; Ps 31:23; Ps 37:28; Ps 1:5; Ps 3:8; Ps 79:2; Ps 97:10; Ps 116:15). On the other hand, קָדוֹש, kadosh, and also the Greek word ἃγιος, signifies pure, clean, in reference to physical purity and cleanliness; they are also used of moral purity, holy, hallowed, sacred — applied to persons consecrated to the service of God: the priests (Ex 28:41; Ex 29:1; Le 21:6; 1Sa 7:1; 1Pe 2; 1Pe 5); the first-born (Ex 13:2; Lu 2:23; Ro 11:16); and the people of Israel (Ex 19:10,14; Isa 13:3); prophets and apostles (Lu 1:70; Ac 3:21; 2Pe 1:21; Eph 3:5); the pious Israelites, the saints (De 33:3; Ps 16:3; Ps 34:9; Ps 89:5,7; Zec 14:5; Da 7:18,21,25,27; Mt 27:52); and the angels (Job 5:1; Job 15:15; Da 8:13; Mt 25:31; 1Th 3:13). The latter Greek word is also used of those who are purified and sanctified by the Holy Spirit; and as this is assumed of all who profess the Christian name, Christians are called saints (Ac 9:13-14,32,41; Ac 26:10; Ro 1:7; Ro 8:27). It may here be observed that the Hebrew word for a consecrated prostitute is קדֵשָׁה, kedeshah, derived from קָדשׁ, kadosh, in its signification of separated, dedicated, because such women among idolaters were devoted to the service of the temples of their false deities, particularly those of Venus, and to the ancient priests of Bel, or Belus. Of such female devotees, instances are to be found in the present day attached to the Hindu temples.
The later Jews have their saints as well as the Christian Church; the word they use is קדשׁ, kadosh. Their most celebrated saint is rabbi Judah Hak- kadosh (rabbi Judah the Holy). He lived about one hundred and twenty years after the destruction of the second Temple, and was the author of the Mishna (or text) of the Babylonian Talmud. They have also their devout men (חסדי ם, chasidim), who devote themselves to a religious life and to the study of their law, visit the dying, perform the rites for the dead, etc. Of such kind were the "devout persons" with whom Paul disputed (Ac 17:17). In the New Test. the word ἃγιος, as above, is used throughout wherever our version has "saint," and with the same signification as in the Sept. — viz. separated, dedicated, sanctified by consecration — because the Christians were then especially dedicated to God's service, in separation from the Jews and pagans, as the Jews had been before the "holy people" separated from the Gentiles. SEE HOLINESS.
After the Christian era, the martyrs were considered as dignified saints in the same rank as the apostles — i.e. saints by profession and office, as distinguished from the saints, or holy and pious by character and conduct, such as have been eminent for religion and virtue, but not canonized. After some time canonization was extended also to confessors — that is, persons who during the persecutions against the Christians had made a resolute avowal and defense of their faith, and had suffered torture, banishment, or confiscation in consequence, but not actual martyrdom (see the monographs cited by Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 169). For some centuries there was no regular canonization in the Christian Church. By a tacit consent of the clergy the names of martyrs, etc., were inserted as saints in a kind of ecclesiastical register, called a diptych. It was not till about the 9th century that solemn and formal canonization, with its particular ceremonies, began to be regularly practiced. At present, in the Church of Rome, the ceremony of beatification, or being pronounced blessed by the pope, must precede canonization, and cannot take place till fifty years after death. SEE CANONIZATION. The word is generally applied by us to the apostles and other holy persons mentioned in the Scriptures; but the Romanists make its application much more extensive, as, according to them, all who are canonized are made saints of a high degree. Protestants, in applying this term to the sacred writers, are very inconsistent; for though they say St. John, St. Peter, St. David, they never use St. Isaiah, St. Habakkuk, etc. The practice has even extended to naming churches after certain saints. SEE PATRON SAINTS.
Concerning the bodies of the saints which arose and came out of their graves after the resurrection of Christ (Mt 27:50), it is believed that they were persons who believed in him and waited for him in hope, as old Simeon had done (Lu 2:25), but who had died before his resurrection, and who were thus favored to be an example of the general resurrection, and to whom Christ alluded (Joh 5:25), "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live;" and of whom Paul speaks, "Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept," because his resurrection was the signal for theirs. It appears that these persons must have been deceased during the then present generation; for they went into Jerusalem, and appeared unto many, who could not have recognized them had they been much longer dead. We may here observe that when the word saint or saints (ἃγιος, ἃγιοι) is used in the New Test. relative to persons deceased, it is to be understood of the spirits of the just (without any distinction of office or character) made perfect. SEE RESURRECTION.