21 Feb 2021
Ok – disclaimer straight away. I’m not a Catholic. I’ve set foot in a Catholic church maybe a handful of times – a wedding and while visiting historic sites, from memory.
I know Catholics have some different customs and rituals than us ordinary Protestant people, and these can seem a bit unusual to those of us who haven’t grown up in that denomination.
There’s the “Jesus is still on the cross” one for a start. The rest of us still have a cross, but we’ve let Jesus roam free. There’s also the “spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch” crossing of themselves. They have special jewellery to help them pray, particular things they need to recite to obtain forgiveness for things, and a lot of other things that are a regular part of their faith experience, but unusual to many others.
And then there’s all the saints.
I happened to read something last night about Saint Isidore of Seville, the patron saint of the internet, which is really all it took to spark my interest in the subject, so I hit the internet this morning to do a bit more reading.
By golly, there’s a lot of patron saints. 1776, according to Catholic.org, so you’d think they would know. According to their website, patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over areas of life. I’m assuming it’s a sort of job sharing setup so that God and Jesus don’t get inundated with prayers from all the Tom’s, Dick’s and Harry’s, with no categorisation or organisation methods available to them.
You’d have to be very knowledgable about who to direct your prayers to, though. I’m not sure what your requirements are, but I’ve created a little list just in case one of these saints might be of use to you.
Saint Barbara – patron saint of fireworks (or anything that goes boom)
Saint Drogo – patron saint of unattractive people but also of coffee houses and cattle
Saint Sebastian – patron saint of hardware stores
Saint Genesius of Rome – patron saint of comedians (also clowns, movies, plumbers and torture victims)
Saint Polycarp of Smyrna – patron saint against dysentery and earaches
Saint Fiacre – patron saint of people with STD’s (but also of gardeners, cab drivers and haemorrhoid sufferers)
Saint Jesus Malverde – patron saint of drug dealers
Saint Cornelius – patron saint of twitching
Saint Clotilde – patron saint of disappointing children
Saint Magnus – patron saint against caterpillars (I’m not sure whether he is still against them when they become pretty butterflies? Maybe there’s some Catholics out there who can help…)
Saint Malo – patron saint of pig keepers
Saint Bibiana – patron saint of hangovers
Saint George – patron saint of stupidity
A lot of patron saints do double or triple duty, which is fair enough because the patron saint for wheelwrights or lighthouse keepers will not see a lot of prayer action nowadays.
But the busiest saint I found was St Catherine of Alexandria who is the patron saint of unmarried girls, apologists, potters, spinners, archivists, dying people, educators, girls, jurists, knife sharpeners, lawyers, maidens, mechanics, millers, hat-makers, nurses, preachers, students, the university of Paris…and a lot, lot more.
My query would be – is there a Patron Saint department at the Vatican, who work full time to keep all the patron saints sorted?
And is there a patron saint for the patron saints department?