Saintly duties

In addition to having performed miracles and what not in their lifetimes, Catholic saints apparently alo have “special powers”. You pray to Saint Anthony when you lose something. That plastic Saint Christopher on your cabbie’s dash is to protect him from auto accidents. Saint Jude is the patron saint of law enforcement. I think there’s a saint for gastrointestinal illnesses too.

Who assigned these saints to their respective sub-specialties? Is it related to the deeds they performed in their lifetime? Did the ex-Saint Christopher get into a chariot accident?

I think you can find the information you would want at

While I certainly would not call myself a devout believer (my religion is basically a patchwork of diverse beliefs and I’m well aware of the fact that beliefs of others are just as valid as mine), I grew up with a Catholic father and a Romanian Orthodox mother and I breifly attended Catholic school. I recently got interested in the lives of the saints so I did some research and found the above website. You’ll find that there are patron saints for ALL kinds of things. I often wear a medal of Saint Dymphna who is the patron saint of neurological disorders which tend to run in my family.

Great link topo! Thanks.

And I guess my OP was wrong: cabbies have a separate patron saint.

I thought St. Jude was the patron saint of lost causes and newspaper personal ads.

I’ve long suspected that the whole saint thing is a remnant of polytheism. The bible specifically states that only God (in each of its trinity states) should be worshipped and prayed to. Yet the Catholics persist in this activity. This was one of the major bones of contention that the fundamentalist church I grew up with had against the Catholic Church.

These days, I don’t agree with either side.

Carpe hoc!

St. Arnold, he’s my favorite saint! The patron of brewers & their clientele.


Carl, wasn’t St Arnold replaced by St Al?

President of the Vernon Dent fan club.

You’re probably right, Nick. My “source” for the St. Jude-as-patron-saint-for-cops bit was from the movie “The Untouchables.”

The site tells me that it’s St. Michael. He would be a better patron saint for bouncers, if ya ask me…

I just checked the Saintsite and found that their is no St. Arnold! Does anyone have an icon of St. Augustine of Hippo, the true Brewers Patron, to replace the one of Arnold that hung over my brew kettle? I just trashed Arnie. It explains some of my brews that didn’t quite make it! Wrong Saint! Worse yet, no St.Carl, nor St. Nickrz, nor St. Cecil! Shall we petition the Vatican to cannonize Cecil? There is a St. Cecilia listed. I have heard speculation that Unca Cece my indeed be Aunt Cece. Or, Is this heresy? Anyway, it may help the Cecil is female faction.


A Catholic friend of my mom says that St. Stanislov is the patron St. of parking places. My mom (who is not Catholic) prays to “Stan” when she enters a parking lot and swears that a space close to the entrance always opens up for her. Then again, my mom faithfully replies to all sweepstakes announcements and drives to Georgia every week for lottery tickets.

When Christian missionaries began to convert pagans throughout the world, they tried to replace various pagan holidays (for instance, they tried to change February 14th from a Roman holiday devoted to Cupid into a religious holiday dedicated to the non-romantic Christian martyr Valentine), and they tried to replace pagan gods/heroes with Christian heroes.

If a country had a patron god, Christian missionaries tried to get them to embrace a saint or Christian hero who exemplified the same virtues as the pagan god/hero. If a guild or craftsmen’s association had a patron god, the Church tried to get them to stop honoring the pagan god, and pay homage to some Christian saint/hero- preferably one who had SOME connection, however tenuous, to the profession in question.

Sometimes the connections are obvious, and sometimes they aren’t. Patrick converted Ireland, so it’s obvious why he’s the patron saint of Ireland, but I can’t imagine why Andrew (who never knew that Scotland or Russia existed!) should be the patron saint of Scotland and Russia. St. Thomas More was a lawyer, so it’s obvious why he’s patron saint of lawyers… but why St. James should be patron saint of hatmakers (true story!) is beyond me. As I said earlier, it’s likely that some ancient hatmakers’ guild used to have a patron pagan god, and the local bishop picked some virtuous Christian saint, and ordered that HE be their new patron.

Sometimes the reasons are strange indeed- for instance, St. Barbara is the patron saint of artillery soldiers. She was never a soldier, so this seems odd. However, according to her biography, young St. Barbara suffered death by dismemberment. Now, centuries ago, when cannons and artillery were a brand new feature of warfare, a cannon was almost equally likely to fire a cannoball at the enemy or to blow up- thus… ahem… dismembering the soldiers operating it. Perhaps the idea was that, since Barbara understood how horrible it is to be dismembered, she’d be sympathetic to frightened artillerymen!

MrKnowItAll posted

Well, yes and no. The origins of Christian veneration of saints began with graveside vigils of particularly holy people (literally, ‘saints’) on the anniversary of their martyrdom. [It is quite common to remember one’s dearly departed on the anniversary of their death.] This has nothing to do with polytheism, ancestor worship, or pagan rituals. It’s a human thing done by Christians.

Certainly, Pagan influences shaped the development of the practice of a more ritualized remembrance of the martyrs and other famous ‘saints.’ As has been pointed out already, a paricular tribe may miss their harvest god and the accompanying festivals of that god when they converted to Christianity. The solution was to promote a farmer-saint as the model farmer and to hold the festival in his honor. Pop historians (namely, neo-Pagans with an axe to grind) will then wrongly claim that Saint Farmer was actually Harvest God, borrowed by the Christians.

The beginning of the ten commandments will certainly back you up on the monotheism. I think you’ll be hard pressed, however, to come up with explicit New Testament citations that each member of the trinity is to be worshipped. (You won’t even find ‘trinity,’ ‘states,’ or ‘persons (of the trinity)’ in the NT.)

Ummm, not wanting to sound harsh, but… you actually believe as factual anything a fundamentalist says about their enemy without doing some fact checking on your own?

D&D is not (necesarily) a Satanic ritual. Bill Clinton is (probably) not the anti-Christ. The world will (most likely) not end next year. And Catholics don’t worship saints.

Catholics ‘talk’ to the saints, like most people do to departed loved ones. And this communication with the saints is called ‘prayer.’ Not all prayer is ‘worship.’ It is official RCC teaching that only God is worshipped, Saints may be venerated, and you can ‘talk to’ any non-living human, whether they be the dead, angels, or God. It is this broad definition of ‘prayer’ that causes Protestants to think that Catholics are worshipping saints.

And yes, this ‘prayer’ to the saints has been abused by many Catholics as a magic formula to gain spiritual favors. It was a medieval construct to think that the saints, who are mulling around the court room of God the King, have access to the King’s ear. And just like they’d butter up and seek favors from local officials, they thought they could do the same with the saints. This is not official RCC teaching. But it is a popular custom which is difficult to stamp out – like belief in horroscopes.


St. George is the patron saint of Russia, IIRC. Just my 0.02

Cave Diem! Carpe Canem!

**Carl Berry:**St. Arnold, he’s my favorite saint! The patron of brewers & their clientele.

**Frankd6:**Carl, wasn’t St Arnold replaced by St Al?

Who was then replaced by St. Fonzie? :slight_smile:

Okay, moriah. You got me. I took a few shortcuts in my post to get to my point.

  1. I know the whole “trinity” concept is a fairly recent addition to Christianity. Therefore, one will not find any specific reference in the Bible to it. (As an afterthought, I realized the argument could be made that the Trinity is a holdover from polytheism. [That should ruffle some feathers. :)])

  2. I also understand (belatedly) that Protestants and Catholics have differing views of what constitutes “worship”. I was just relating the POV as presented to my impressionable childhood mind.

  3. Personally, I just try to live my life and leave the worshipping to people who are better at it (or at least believe there’s someone listening).

Carpe hoc!

Even though I failed Bible 101, I use to be really into the saints. (And we ain’t talking football.) I read the several “deep and meaningful” saints books that all good catholics have laying around and thought " How great to die for a cause, etc"

Then adolesence past and I hadn’t looked at the saints books in quite some time. There was always one saint in particular that bothered me as a kid, ST. Rose of Lima, but I couldn’t figure out why. Flash forward to a more cynical adult and I flipped through my Saints book again. St. Rose of Lima is the Patron Saint of Peru (and probably some sub specialites too like ear wax, but I don’t recall) She was apparently from a wealthy family and very beautiful, all she wanted to do was serve God. No problem there. BUT she kept on getting suitors and proposals and THAT WOULD NOT DO. Rose felt that her looks kept her from worshipping God completely and that they were distracting. SO, she cut her face with something (glass, nails , I don’t remember) to disfigure herself. This cleared her social Franklin Planner for the rest of her life.

Now if Rose did that in the 1990’s, she would be commited. Ever since discovering this I’ve had to wonder about the mental state about every Saint and Martyr out there. I’m sure alot of them were decent pious folk, but Rose kinda put that nuttier than thou image in my head for me.

People change not because they see the light but because they feel the heat.

I just went over to the page and the write up on St. Rose is a little different from what I read as a kid, but it still confirms to me that her elevator did not go all the way up. The book I have is from 1936, so I’m sure the Catholic church sanitized it a bit for its followers, but here is what they said:

It goes on to list her platitudes, but rubbing pepper on the face and sticking a pin into your scalp does not bode well in the mental health arena in my book.

I once read a book about the history and psychology of martyrdom especially when it comes to hurting one’s self. Alot of saints did things like that. The one I remember specifically was St Lucy. She was promised to marry some guy who was totally enamoured with her beautful eyes. She was promised to Jesus so she was having none of that. So she plucked out her eyes and sent them to him on a plate.

The book stated that alot of people who purposely hurt themselves in current times think that they’re saints or other religious figures. Many of them take statements from the Bible literally. I can’t remember the exact quotes from the Bible but one was along the lines of, “If thine left eye offends, pluck it out. It is better to not see than to be a sinner in the eyes of the Lord.” I probably misquoted but the idea is the same.

You have to see this .

St. Monica is the patron saint of married women! Does Hillary know?

(I apologize, my adolescent self couldn’t help but see the conection as humourous.)

::Snort::: Thirsty…heh… I wonder who the Patron Saint of cigar makers is?