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From this question: How can a particular trade of modern times get a patron saint?, I learned that St. Isadore is the patron saint of computer programmers, a group of people in desparate need of a saint if there ever was one.

That said, as a Protestant, I'm not exactly sure what St. Isadore is supposed to be doing for computer programmers. I know that saints aren't worshipped, nor are they even prayed "to" in the sense that they would answer prayers with something magical - but what exactly is their function? I'm assuming that if the church is going to go through all the trouble of recognizing and naming a saint, there's gotta be a reason for it.

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I will put this as a comment because it is by no means an answer or an 'official' answer; patron saints, from my understanding, are champions of causes, countries or as your question details, professions. I believe they have been instituted by the Roman Catholic church and possibly Anglican, that I am not sure of. I do not believe the concept is biblical but if it is I am sure that someone will say so if I am mistaken. –  Monkieboy Oct 19 '12 at 19:07
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From http://www.catholic.org/saints/patron.php

Patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over areas of life. These areas can include occupations, illnesses, churches, countries, causes -- anything that is important to us. The earliest records show that people and churches were named after apostles and martyrs as early as the fourth century.

The purpose of a Patron saint is two-fold.

  • One purpose is that they are someone to use as a model - to pattern our behavior after them in a certain area of our life, or, as the article says, we can follow their example.
  • The other is that we can turn to them for intercessory prayer.
    • Apparently, we can ask them to pray to God for us, which is an alien though to most protestants, but common among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Catholic practice.
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Man that's Idolatory. –  Matt Nov 25 '13 at 0:23
    
@Matt - Considering I'm not Catholic, nor do I believe in patron saints (I was just answering the question), your statement doesn't offend me in the least, but it's also not appropriate to the site. we don't argue "who's right" here. You might want to check out Affable's answer on Why worship saints / Mary / Angels? Are they worshiping the saints? Or do they believe they are merely praying to those that God has provided as intercessors? They don't think they're worshiping the saints. –  David Stratton Nov 25 '13 at 15:49
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