6

St. Patrick is known for evangelizing Ireland. Since most saints I hear of are also characterized as "the Patron Saint of X", I wondered what Patrick was the Patron of. According to the wikipedia article, he is a Patron Saint of Ireland along with two others.

I was expecting a position or social class. Like carpenters, miners, loggers, etc. So now I have this question. What things can a saint be a patron of?

So it seems there are patron saints for trade positions and nations.

Are there Patron Saints to:

  • Emotional types of people - e.g. hot-tempered, passive, patient, generous etc.
  • Benignly physically characterized people - e.g. blonde, green-eyed, tall, etc.
  • Morbidly physically characterized people - e.g. hospitalized, murdered, disfigured, etc.
  • Human journeys - Suffering, oppression, conquering, etc.
  • Types of status - e.g. wealthy, poor, leader, surf, etc.
  • Types of relationships - e.g. sisters, brothers, fathers, etc.
  • Animals or kinds of animals.
  • Inanimate things - e.g. candles, cake, ice cream, etc.
  • Earthly things - e.g. dirt, rocks, wind, rain, sunshine, the moon, stars, etc.
  • Characterized things - e.g. made of specific materials, lost, stolen, etc.
  • Holy things - e.g. relics, priestly possessions, etc.
  • Events - e.g. birthdays, death days, graduations, etc.
  • Holidays - e.g. Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc.
  • Others I haven't thought of.

I did find this page, which helps a bit. I see places, occupations, illnesses and their caregivers, activities (e.g. baptism) and animals. Is there some sort of logical categories that saints can be patrons of and categories that they cannot be patrons of?

  • Should this be another question: is there a protocol to deciding whether a saint is a patron of anything or not? – fredsbend Mar 17 '15 at 22:47
  • 1
    Downvote and no comment? It doesn't bother me that much but it is a poor strategy in helping me improve the question. – fredsbend Mar 18 '15 at 6:51
  • I heard recently that St Patrick is also the patron of architects since he apparently learned architecture in Rome in the time between his enslavement and becoming a bishop. – Peter Turner Apr 5 '15 at 4:57
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because unless the answer is like the one I have posted, this a list question and also dependent on changing events. – user13992 Apr 18 '15 at 1:05
  • 1
    @FMS "List question," while being a common approximation of close reasons, is, I think, often wrongly cited as an actual close reason. Matt's answer seems to me to be good, well-referenced, clear, and though it contains a list it identifies categories of demarcation rather than trying to attain the Sisyphean task of exhausting every possibility. I don't think this question is too broad. – Mr. Bultitude Oct 4 '15 at 0:53
6

A search of the Catechism, as well as of the Vatican website and of the Catholic Encyclopedia article, do not reveal any particular official protocol to decide whether a given saint is to be considered a patron saint, and of what.

Searching through the Vatican's website for the term "patron saint" yields a number of references to patron saints, including at least one document officially establishing a saint (Thomas More) as patron saint of a profession or class (statesmen). This document is a motu proprio, issued by the Pope on his own initiative, though in this case at least he was impelled by requests from others:

Recently, several Heads of State and of Government, numerous political figures, and some Episcopal Conferences and individual Bishops have asked me to proclaim Saint Thomas More the Patron of Statesmen and Politicians. Those supporting this petition include people from different political, cultural and religious allegiances, and this is a sign of the deep and widespread interest in the thought and activity of this outstanding Statesman.

(E Sancti Thomae Mori section 1)

It appears then that no particular protocol is required beyond the interest of the faithful and the decision of the Pope, or (in cases of older saints especially) simply a tradition of associating saints with particular causes.

As one reads through lists of patron saints, one does notice certain patterns occur. Saints are often declared patrons of:

  • locations (real or virtual): e.g. St. Mark as the patron of Venice, Italy; or Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patron saint of the United States; or Isidore of Seville as the patron saint of the Internet
  • occupations or professions: St. Thomas More, patron saint of politicians; the Blessed Virgin as patron saint of sailors (from her title "Stella Maris": "Star of the Sea")
  • groups of people in general: St. Stanislaus Kostka as patron saint of the young; Our Lady of Loreto (and Saint Padre Pio), patron saint of air travelers
  • people with specific illnesses or disabilities: St. Dymphna as patron saint of those with epilepsy; St. Damien of Molokai as patron saint of those with leprosy

Continuing through your list: the only "patron saint of relationships" I could find are Saints Joachim and Ann, parents of the Blessed Virgin and patron saints of parents. Saint Francis of Assisi is patron saint, not of animals but of ecology and ecologists. (St. Felix of Nola is apparently the patron saint of lost pets. Keep that in mind.)

Similarly, Saint Christopher is still the patron saint of travelers, though the Church admits he probably didn't exist (!!).

In terms of holidays—or holy days—those are specifically dedicated to God, or to one or more saints; but the respective saints are not called "patron saints" of those days.

Generally speaking, though, it appears that there are no particular restrictions on what saints may or may not be patrons of, nor any authoritative teaching on the subject.

  • Very nice. +1. An interesting one is Saint Muerte, but that's not official, I've heard. Is there actually a Parton of death, or at least martyrs? – fredsbend Mar 18 '15 at 20:03
  • I would imagine that death would come under the immediate patronage of Jesus :-) – Matt Gutting Mar 18 '15 at 20:14
  • 2
    @fred St. Joseph is usually thought of as the patron of a holy death, since its believed that he died accompanied by Our Lord and Our Lady. – Peter Turner Apr 5 '15 at 4:53
  • Raphael might be considered a "patron saint of relationships", since he is more specifically the patron saint of ordained marriage, happy meetings, and lovers (according to Wikipedia). CatholicMatch.com (online dating for Catholics) also says he is the patron saint of singles. – Thunderforge Apr 20 '18 at 1:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.