Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches recognize certain individuals as saints—particularly holy individuals who are believed to be in Heaven. The most famous saints become popular objects of veneration and are catalogued in extensive (but not exhaustive) official lists, such as the Roman Martyrology.

The two churches have not been in communion for nearly a thousand years, and at the time they separated, they did not use today's more rigorous canonization and glorification processes for officially recognizing saints. Many ancient and medieval figures are recognized as saints by both churches today because of traditions that long predate the schism.

What I would like to know is, who is the most recently deceased individual who is officially recognized and venerated as a saint by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches? According to this answer, Vladimir the Great (956–1015) is one contender. I'd be particularly interested to learn whether there are any mutually recognized saints from after the Great Schism of 1054.

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    On the Orthodox side, the canonization/glorification is not much more rigorous that it was in the first millennium. It begins with spontaneous recognition by the people, and then entry into calendarby the local jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction (e.g. Moscow Patriarchate, Church of Japan, etc.) has its own process. Other jurisdictions, as far as I know, accept the calendar entries of other jurisdictions. But there are no hard "requirements" (e.g. a certain number of miracles). The role of the Church hierarchy is essentially to confirm what the people already recognize.
    – user22553
    Sep 5, 2016 at 16:22
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    If that nominal use led to the saint being widely or officially venerated, yes. Are any of the saints named by John Paul II now listed in any Catholic martyrology or calendar?
    – Psychonaut
    Sep 5, 2016 at 16:53
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    @Psychonaut Any deceased person may be venerated in the Catholic church so long as there is a reasonable belief that the person now enjoys communion with God in heaven. Much like how Dialogist says the Orthodox church handles it, if there is a tradition and "cult" dedicated to that particular person, the Church may recognize them officially as a Saint. So in the same way, the Church just affirms what the believers already know.
    – user3961
    Sep 5, 2016 at 17:44
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    A possible complication here is those Eastern Rite churches, which are now part of the Roman Catholic Church. Would Orthodox saints recognised by such churches, at least up to the date of unification with Rome, effectively bypass papal canonisation, and so be automatically accepted as saints in the Roman Catholic church also?
    – davidlol
    Sep 6, 2016 at 9:39

4 Answers 4


I believe that the correct answer would be either Abraham of Rostov, who died between 1073 and 1077; or Antony (Anthony) of the Caves, who died in 1073. Both appear in the list of Catholic saints, and both are venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Abraham is known as Abraham the Wonderworker in the Orthodox Church, where he is remembered on October 29. His life is described:

Saint Abramius, Archimandrite of Rostov, in the world Abercius, left his parents’ home in his youth and entered upon the path of Christian asceticism. Having assumed the monastic schema, Abramius settled at Rostov on the shore of Lake Nero. In the Rostov lands there were not many pagans, and the saint worked intensely at spreading the true Faith.

Not far from the cell of the saint was a pagan temple, where the pagans worshipped a stone idol of Veles (Volos), which caused fright among the inhabitants of Rostov. In a miraculous vision the Apostle John the Theologian stood before Abramius, and gave him a staff with a cross on top, with which the venerable one destroyed the idol. At the place of the pagan temple, St Abramius founded a monastery in honor of the Theophany and became its head.

In memory of the miraculous appearance, the holy monk built a church named for St John the Theologian. Many of the pagans were persuaded and baptized by St Abramius. Particularly great was his influence with the children whom he taught the ability to read and write, instructing them in the law of God, and tonsured monastics from among them.

Everyone who came to the monastery was accepted with love. The saint’s life was a constant work of prayer and toil for the benefit of the brethren: he chopped firewood for the oven, he laundered the monks’ clothing and carried water for the kitchen. St Abramius reposed in old age and was buried in the church of the Theophany.

His holy relics were uncovered in the time of Great Prince Vsevolod (1176-1212). In the year 1551, Tsar Ivan the Terrible, before his campaign against Kazan, made the rounds of holy places. At the Theophany-Abramiev monastery the monks showed him the staff with which St Abramius had destroyed the idol of Veles. The Tsar took the staff with him on the campaign, but the cross remained at the monastery. And returning again after the subjugation of the Khan, Ivan the Terrible gave orders to build a new stone church at the Abramiev monastery in honor of the Theophany, with four chapels, and he also supplied it with books and icons.

The life of Antony of the Caves is described:

Saint Anthony of the Kiev Caves was born in the year 983 at Liubech, not far from Chernigov, and was named Antipas in Baptism. Possessing the fear of God from his youth, he desired to be clothed in the monastic schema. When he reached a mature age, he wandered until he arrived on Mt. Athos, burning with the desire to emulate the deeds of its holy inhabitants. Here he received monastic tonsure, and the young monk pleased God in every aspect of his spiritual struggles on the path of virtue. He particularly excelled in humility and obedience, so that all the monks rejoiced to see his holy life.

The igumen saw in St Anthony the great future ascetic, and inspired by God, he sent him back to his native land, saying, “Anthony, it is time for you to guide others in holiness. Return to your own Russian land, and be an example for others. May the blessing of the Holy Mountain be with you.

Returning to the land of Rus, Anthony began to make the rounds of the monasteries about Kiev, but nowhere did he find that strict life which had drawn him to Mt. Athos.

Through the Providence of God, Anthony came to the hills of Kiev by the banks of the River Dniepr. The forested area near the village of Berestovo reminded him of his beloved Athos. There he found a cave which had been dug out by the Priest Hilarion, who later became Metropolitan of Kiev (October 21). Since he liked the spot, Anthony prayed with tears, “Lord, let the blessing of Mt. Athos be upon this spot, and strengthen me to remain here.” He began to struggle in prayer, fasting, vigil and physical labor. Every other day, or every third day, he would eat only dry bread and a little water. Sometimes he did not eat for a week. People began to come to the ascetic for his blessing and counsel, and some decided to remain with the saint.

Among Anthony’s first disciples was St Nikon (March 23), who tonsured St Theodosius of the Caves (May 3) at the monastery in the year 1032.

The virtuous life of St Anthony illumined the Russian land with the beauty of monasticism. St Anthony lovingly received those who yearned for the monastic life. After instructing them how to follow Christ, he asked St Nikon to tonsure them. When twelve disciples had gathered about St Anthony, the brethren dug a large cave and built a church and cells for the monks within it.

After he appointed Abbot Barlaam to guide the brethren, St Anthony withdrew from the monastery. He dug a new cave for himself, then hid himself within it. There too, monks began to settle around him. Afterwards, the saint built a small wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God over the Far Caves.

At the insistence of Prince Izyaslav, the igumen Barlaam withdrew to the Dimitriev monastery. With the blessing of St Anthony and with the general agreement of the brethren, the meek and humble Theodosius was chosen as igumen. By this time, the number of brethren had already reached a hundred men. The Kiev Great Prince Izyaslav (+ 1078) gave the monks the hill on which the large church and cells were built, with a palisade all around. Thus, the renowned monastery over the caves was established. Describing this, the chronicler remarks that while many monasteries were built by emperors and nobles, they could not compare with those which are built with holy prayers and tears, and by fasting and vigil. Although St Anthony had no gold, he built a monastery which became the first spiritual center of Rus.

For his holiness of life, God glorified St Anthony with the gift of clairvoyance and wonderworking. One example of this occurred during the construction of the Great Caves church. The Most Holy Theotokos Herself stood before him and St Theodosius in the Blachernae church in Constantinople, where they had been miraculously transported without leaving their own monastery. Actually, two angels appeared in Constantinople in their forms (See May 3, the account of the Kiev Caves Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos). Having received gold from the Mother of God, the saints commissioned master architects, who came from Constantinople to the Russian land on the command of the Queen of Heaven to build the church at the Monastery of the Caves. During this appearance, the Mother of God foretold the impending death of St Anthony, which occurred on July 10, 1073.


Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1754-1833) seems to fit the bill here.

Saint Seraphim of Sarov (Russian: Серафим Саровский) (1 August [O.S. 19 July] 1754 (or 1759) – 14 January [O.S. 2 January] 1833), born Prokhor Moshnin (Прохор Мошнин), is one of the most renowned Russian monks and mystics in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is generally considered the greatest of the 19th-century startsy (elders). Seraphim extended the monastic teachings of contemplation, theoria and self-denial to the layperson. He taught that the purpose of the Christian life was to acquire the Holy Spirit. Perhaps his most popular quotation amongst Orthodox believers is "Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved."

Seraphim was glorified (canonized) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1903. His biographer Nicholas Motovilov was one of his "spiritual children". Pope John Paul II referred to him as a saint. (Wikipeia).

There are many Catholic websites online that include Seraphim of Sarov as being a saint.

Here is what Catholic Saints Info has to say about St Seraphim of Sarov:

Son of a builder, he had a middle-class upbringing. Monk at Sarov in 1777, taking the name Seraphim. Studious as a boy, he was able to apply himself there as the monks of Sarov spent much of the day studying Scripture and the early Church writings. Severely ill and bed-ridden from 1780 to 1783, Seraphim continued his studies, and received repeated apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Ordained in 1793, he celebrated Mass daily, which was unusual at the time.

In 1794 he became a hermit in the forest near the Sarov monastery. In 1804 he was severely beaten by thieves, and left for dead; he dragged himself to the monastery, spent five months in recovery, and spent the rest of his life stooped and requiring a cane to walk. He lived for a while atop a pillar, then in a walled up cell. Offered the abbacy of Sarov in 1807, but declined, and lived the next three years without speaking.

In 1810 his health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer live in the woods. He returned to the Sarov abbey, and lived as a hermit within its walls. In 1832 he received a vision from the Virgin Mary that told him to return to the world and give others the benefit of his wisdom. He attracted followers and students, became known as a healer, and was called by the honourific starets, Russian for spiritual teacher. Many of his teachings have been reprinted in the West, and Pope John Paul II referred to him in the book Threshold of Hope (as a saint).

Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints lists the feast day of St Seraphim of Sarov as being celebrated in the Catholic Church on January 2.

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    The question was seeking those who are "officially recognized" by the Roman Catholic Church. Despite his being included in "Catholic Saints Info," I don't believe his canonization was ever formally recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Is this not true?
    – user22553
    Sep 5, 2016 at 19:13
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    Yes, but Seraphim of Sarov is not in the Roman Martyrology. I am Orthodox, so I think it's great that people have such respect for him, but he is not formally recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. I think the last to be formally recognized are those that I mentioned in my answer.
    – user22553
    Sep 6, 2016 at 3:12
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    Not all saints are mentioned in the Roman Martyrology. There are various reasons for this, the most common one being that the a particular cult is still limited to the local church (diocese), a religious order (Benedictines), a nation (Germany) or a particular Catholic Eastern Rite (Russian).
    – Ken Graham
    Sep 6, 2016 at 12:41
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    I can find no evidence of a Catholic canonization for this individual, which I think disqualifies this as an answer. I'm happy to be proven wrong if someone can find a source. Sep 8, 2016 at 15:15
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    St. Seraphim of Sarov is indeed a Saint in the Catholic communion as is St. Gregory Palamas.
    – Steven
    Jun 10, 2018 at 7:51

Since we came from an Orthodox church to join the Catholic Church, I asked our priest, Fr. David Meinzen, if it was acceptable to keep the same patron saint, St. Elizabeth the Grand Duchess. I had wondered, since rules for canonization had changed for Catholics, if only saints from times of union were allowed.

He said about the Orthodox, except for any that fought the Catholic Church, ‘Their saints are our saints.’ So I would conclude that it generally would be the latest canonized by the Orthodox. Elder Paisios is the latest I’ve heard of, but, continually, more are being canonized.

In somewhat different wording, the question was answered by Catholic Answers: ‘There are several saints in the offical Roman rite martyrology published under St. John Paul II who lived after the Great Schism of East and West—for example, Sts. Boris and Gleb and St. Sergius of Radonezh in Russia. Some of the Byzantine rite usages, for example, venerate St. Gregory Palamas, whose office is in an appendix in the office book published for Greek Catholics in Italy. So the simple answer is yes, the Catholic Church would generally accept the veneration of Orthodox saints in the case where there is a reconciliation of the communities.’

I don’t think any single, complete list of saints is published anywhere. For example, another answer says the Index Causarum Sanctorum ac Beatorum is incomplete. The Acta Sanctorum, mentioned also, ends with 1940. And those can’t be easily updated. For saints officially recognized by both Catholics and Orthodox, the best suggestion I have then is to combine resources. One way to do this, if you search Catholic websites with current lists of saints, e.g. Catholic.org, for ‘Orthodox,’ some of these saints will come up, such as the Romanov Royal Martyrs.


The Last Church Father, venerated1 by both East and West together, is the Pagan Greek Philosopher Socrates, the teacher of Plato, whose apophatic teachings deeply reverberate in Eastern Orthodox Mysticism, and whose disciple was Aristotle, whose cataphatic views profoundly shaped and significantly influenced Roman Catholic Scholasticism, particularly the Thomism of Aquinas. So, if the Great(est) Schism in Christianity took place four centuries before its Founder was even born, this question is therefore rendered nonsensical, and thus, according to one of King Solomon's famous Proverbs (26:5), deserving of an equally (in)appropriate answer.

1 Some Orthodox churches depict pre-Christian Greek philosophers on their exterior walls, above the main entrance, honoring the tradition of the early Christian apologists, who saw them as fulfilling for Gentiles a role similar to that of Jewish Prophets in ancient Israel.

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