Q. 1. What is the origin of the word "Saint"? Can Catholics refer to any living or deceased persons are saints? What about a child that dies under the age of reason, can that child be referred to as a saint since he is in Heaven?
A. 1. First of all, the word "saint" means one who is sacred, holy, pure, blameless, dedicated.
Reference to the word "saint" is found in the Holy Bible in a number of places, one being Roman 15:26 where is says, "At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints." There are other reference to the saints in the same Chapter of the Book of Romans and additional reference in the Book of Revelations. [Rev. 13:7, 13:10, 14:12, 16:4-6, 17:5-6 and 19:6-9.] See also 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:16-17.
From the above, we can conclude that reference to the word "saint" is a reference to Christians.
When reference is made to a saint in the Catholic Church, the title of "Saint" before a name (such as Saint John) means that the Church has recognized in a particular way a member of the Church (who has passed away) who, through God's grace, has lived a life worthy of emulation: filled with faith, hope and charity. Only the Church is authorized to grant this title to an individual within the Catholic Church. This title is granted as the last step towards the elevation of an individual towards sainthood, the previous titles consisting of being a "Servant of God," "Venerable," and "Blessed."
When a baptised child dies under the age of reason, such a child being sinless, he/she bypasses Purgatory and goes directly to Heaven. While there is no doubt that this child is a heavenly saint, since the Catholic Church has not granted the title of "Saint" to that individual child, it would be improper to refer to that child as a Saint.
However, there is nothing to prevent a parent from praying to their child who has moved on to Heaven, asking their child to intercede on their behalf in the presence of God.