From the perspective of Catholicism, are there or have there been any Protestant saints?

Is this something possible at least in principle?

Theoretically speaking, could a Protestant attain the status of a saint in the eyes of God, according to Catholicism?

If the answer is yes, then can a Catholic pray to a deceased Protestant saint to ask for their intercession?

Related but not a duplicate: From the perspective of Catholicism are there any non-Catholic saints?

2 Answers 2


From the perspective of Catholicism, are there or have there been any Protestant saints?

To my knowledge, no Protestant believer has been raised to to honour of beatification or canonization by the Catholic Church.

The question was asked several years ago about a particular Protest martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Does Dietrich Bonhoeffer fit the requirements to be declared an official martyr?

The answer to this question actually applies to any possibility of genuine acknowledgment of sainthood of any Protestant by the Catholic Church. In essence, it seems possible, but for this moment in time is not doable.

Here is how, responded to this question:

In Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (1994), he made a strong allusion to Martyrs of Christ of various faiths: Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants:

37."The Church of the first millennium was born of the blood of the martyrs: "Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum". The historical events linked to the figure of Constantine the Great could never have ensured the development of the Church as it occurred during the first millennium if it had not been for the seeds sown by the martyrs and the heritage of sanctity which marked the first Christian generations. At the end of the second millennium, the Church had once again become a Church of martyrs. The persecutions of believers — priests, religious and laity — has caused a great sowing of martyrdom in different parts of the world. The witness to Christ borne even to the shedding of blood has become a common inheritance of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, as Pope Paul VI pointed out in his Homily for the Canonization of the Ugandan Martyrs.

This witness must not be forgotten. The Church of the first centuries, although facing considerable organizational difficulties, took care to write down in special martyrologies the witness of the martyrs. These martyrologies have been constantly updated through the centuries, and the register of the saints and the blessed bears the names not only of those who have shed their blood for Christ but also of teachers of the faith, missionaries, confessors, bishops, priests, virgins, married couples, widows and children.

In our own century the martyrs have returned, many of them nameless, "unknown soldiers" as it were of God's great cause. As far as possible, their witness should not be lost to the Church. As was recommended in the Consistory, the local Churches should do everything possible to ensure that the memory of those who have suffered martyrdom should be safeguarded, gathering the necessary documentation. This gesture cannot fail to have an ecumenical character and expression. Perhaps the most convincing form of ecumenism is the ecumenism of the saints and of the martyrs. The communio sanctorum speaks louder than the things which divide us. The martyrologium of the first centuries was the basis of the veneration of the Saints. By proclaiming and venerating the holiness of her sons and daughters, the Church gave supreme honour to God himself; in the martyrs she venerated Christ, who was at the origin of their martyrdom and of their holiness. In later times there developed the practice of canonization, a practice which still continues in the Catholic Church and in the Orthodox Churches. In recent years the number of canonizations and beatifications has increased. These show the vitality of the local Churches, which are much more numerous today than in the first centuries and in the first millennium. The greatest homage which all the Churches can give to Christ on the threshold of the third millennium will be to manifest the Redeemer's all-powerful presence through the fruits of faith, hope and charity present in men and women of many different tongues and races who have followed Christ in the various forms of the Christian vocation.

It will be the task of the Apostolic See, in preparation for the Year 2000, to update the martyrologies for the universal Church, paying careful attention to the holiness of those who in our own time lived fully by the truth of Christ. In particular, there is a need to foster the recognition of the heroic virtues of men and women who have lived their Christian vocation in marriage. Precisely because we are convinced of the abundant fruits of holiness in the married state, we need to find the most appropriate means for discerning them and proposing them to the whole Church as a model and encouragement for other Christian spouses."

The real crux to this question rests in the possibility of Dietrich Bonhoeffer being declared a martyr officially by the Catholic Church. Obviously he could not be neither beatified nor canonized as a martyr of the faith, since he was not of the Catholic faith. That said, the possibility of him being beatified and then canonized as "martyr of Christ" could be done, if one could find a Catholic bishop to commence the process of canonization at the diocesan level and follow through at all the other levels, just like any Catholic raised to this honor. Rome would respond accordingly.

Outside the remote possibility of perhaps a Protestant being honoured by Catholics as a martyr (martyr of Christ), there will not be any chance of of a beatification or canonization for those who do not believe what the Church believes.

Although a Protestant could perhaps be a martyr of Christ, their martyrdom would not be for the traditional reason of being hatred of the faith (Odium Fidei), since they do not hold to the truths of the Catholic Faith.

Thus no non-martyr Protestant saints would ever be recognized by Rome.

It is interesting that the few Eastern Orthodox saints recognized by Rome, seems to imply that Rome may see the schism between East and West as ended.


Protestants are heretics and thus are not members of Church. The saints in heaven are members of Church Triumphant. Protestants do not believe in every point of doctrine necessary for salvation; they deny, e.g., the visibility of the Church and its hierarchical government led by the pope.

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum §9:

The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium.

Pope Eugene IV with the Council of Florence solemnly defined the following infallible (and thus unchangeable) dogma in Cantate Domino:

The sacrosanct Roman Church, founded by the voice of our Lord and Savior…firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.

Protestants cannot be in heaven, unless they convert before death.

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