Contemplating the idea of saints existing outside the recognized boundaries of the Latter-day Saint church, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Saints immediately came to mind. Notably, the Eastern Orthodox Church has had its fair share of modern saints with remarkable testimonies that include virtues, but also miracles and gifts of the Spirit. Examples include Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia and Saint Paisios of Mount Athos. The Catholic Church also has an extensive list of recently recognized saints.

I wonder, does the LDS church acknowledge the existence of (some of) such saints as actual saints?

2 Answers 2


Latter-Day Saints have a very different take on the word, understanding it in the Biblical sense. The term is commonly used by Paul in his epistles to various congregations, where he writes to "the saints at such-and-such place," or to those who are "called saints." In other words, he doesn't consider "the saints" to be a bunch of dead people who have achieved recognition for extraordinary deeds, but rather the current, living members of the church, the ordinary fallible people he was writing to, often to admonish them and set them straight in errors of doctrine and practice.

Latter-Day Saints have the same understanding, taking the term largely as an aspirational one: the members of the Church ought to strive to be of saintly character. But the Church has no system of "sainthood" as the term is understood in Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity, and as such does not recognize the saints venerated by other religions. Some of them are admired by individual members, including some Church leaders, for their good lives and achievements, but only as one ordinary person would admire another, nothing more.

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    I'd like to clarify one thing: from Catholic perspective (and I suppose Orthodox as well), saints are very much alive. But they are alive in heaven, not on earth. Commented Jan 7 at 23:59
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    @Yksisarvinen Alive in heaven, as in resurrected? Or alive as other dead people are "alive" in the afterlife, awaiting resurrection?
    – kutschkem
    Commented Jan 8 at 9:57
  • @kutschkem alive as souls united to God, the Life itself, disembodied but contemplating Him in the beatific vision with the intellect. That is the essence of heaven. The damned are spiritually dead, as they're apart from God - that is essence of hell. But both are waiting for the bodily resurrection.
    – Mutoh
    Commented Jan 8 at 12:57

What constitutes a saint? The word "saint" means holy.

All members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands immediately after baptism (see Acts 8:12–25). In this ordinance they are commanded to receive the Holy Ghost. A saint is simply a person who receives and has the Holy Ghost. It requires no further formal ecclesiastical pronouncement to identify a person as a saint, other than that he has received this administration of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the proper priesthood authority and is known to be living a righteous life and is therefore presumed to be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, and made holy thereby. Sometimes this is therefore a tentative or a speculative title, but nonetheless an affirmation of the desired and sure outcome, conditioned upon the individual's faithfulness. In this way, every worthy member of Christ's church can qualify to become a saint, per the testimony of King Benjamin:

he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

By definition, no person who has not received the Holy Ghost can in the flesh properly be termed a saint, which to my knowledge requires reception of the gift in order to be attained as an abiding status, except that we recognize that various deceased persons have conducted their lives worthy of the Holy Ghost, but were not placed in a situation where they could receive the bona fide gift of it. Therefore it is not possible except in final judgment to falsify that such persons qualified, speaking of their conduct and virtues, for the title of a saint, and they now retroactively claim that title and all the blessings of it by receiving the vicarious ordinances of authorized baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by their worthiness of it as though they had received it with all their hearts while in the flesh. Those who receive it with such faith and integrity are no less saintly than those who were born into circumstances where they had the opportunity to be taught and baptized by one holding the authority of God here in the flesh. They have by now accepted the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and would have received it in the flesh if they had had the opportunity to do so. To whom exactly this applies is a matter for the judgment of God to discern, although I do not believe it inappropriate to make intermediate and speculative pronouncements on our parts pending the Lord's final judgment, such as that a person who is known to have lived worthily and made great sacrifices for the cause of truth and righteousness may be called a saint indeed, so far as we are aware, based on their godly conduct and example. If too little is known then I would simply refrain from making such pronouncements, but I believe there are some who lived recently that were not in life members of the Church of Jesus Christ whom I verily believe are now, because they have as of now had the opportunity to receive it and have done so, and lived worthy of it. If I can qualify for the title of a saint, I believe any person who lived a truly Christian, virtuous and valiant life may also, regardless of when or under what circumstances they lived.

The vicarious ordinances of the Lord's house are key to making this unity of the faith and the attendant delivery of blessings happen.

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