A patron saint is a saint who is considered a heavenly advocate or special helper of a nation, place, occupation, activity, clan, family, or person. Some well-known patron saints include these: Mary under the title of “Immaculate Conception” (USA), St. Patrick (Ireland), St. Nicholas (children), St. Gerard Majella (expectant mothers), and St. Luke and Saints Cosmas and Damien (doctors).
When I was having computer problems a while ago, I wondered if the Church had named a patron saint for the internet. Though there’s no “official” patron saint of the internet, there is an “unofficial” one. It’s St. Isidore of Seville who lived in the 7th Century. Now how could a guy who lived 14 Centuries ago be the patron saint of the internet? I decided to look him up (fittingly) on the internet. Isidore was born in Spain in 560 and eventually became an archbishop. He was considered “the most learned man of his age.” In fact, he is credited with writing the first “encyclopedia.” It was a 20 volume work called Etymologiae, and it was the Wikipedia of his day. In his massive work, Isidore tried to summarize all the knowledge of the 7th Century—at least in the West. So he wrote about math, music, science, medicine, law, philosophy, history, geography, etc. In doing so, he cited very few sources. And much of what he wrote was based more on his opinion than actual research. (Sound familiar?)
But St. Isidore is not the only holy person “connected” to the internet. In 2006, an Italian teenager named Carlo Acutis died of leukemia at age 15. Described as a “computer geek,” this young man was an amateur computer programmer. More than that, he used the internet in service of the gospel. He was beatified in 2020 and has been dubbed the patron saint of the internet. So, if you’re having computer or internet problems, try calling on Isi or Carlo. (I bet they get a lot of “prayers”!)
Here are a few more more patron saints of occupations, places, conditions. Some I will just name. Others I’ll say a word or two about. Here goes—in alphabetical order:
apple orchards: St. Charles Borromeo; astronauts: St. Joseph Cupertino (he levitated frequently); barbers: St. Martin de Porres; book trade: St. John of God; button makers: St. Louis, the King of France; he is also the patron saint of soldiers; cab drivers: St. Joseph (he “taxied” Mary to Bethlehem and later Mary and baby Jesus to Egypt. And he turned the meter off both times!)
dieticians: St. Martha (she cooked meals for the most important friend/guest in human history: Jesus. I bet he wasn’t a fussy eater either!); drought and other natural disasters: St. Genevieve ( she preserved her city from Attila by encouraging the people to pray and fast); falling: St. Venantius, a third century Italian martyr. (Part of his torture was being thrown off a high cliff—which he somehow survived. But in the end, he was beheaded); grandparents: Saints Joachim and Anne (They are, according to legend, Mary’s parents, Jesus’ grandparents); in-law problems: too many saints to list!; law suits; St. Agia
libraries, librarians: St. Jerome (he translated the scriptures into Latin), St. Catherine of Alexandria (a very learned woman); lost articles: St. Anthony of Padua (If you lose something, just say this little couplet: “Tony, Tony, come around, something’s lost and can’t be found!); mechanics: St. Catherine of Alexandria—again! (She’s often pictured with a spoked wheel which was the instrument of torture her executioners tried [unsuccessfully] to use on her); St. Eligius (a mastercraftsman who is often shown with a hammer and anvil)
paratroopers: St. Michael the Archangel (I guess that makes sense…); pets: Anthony the Abbot (he is also the patron of farm animals. Some farmers put his image above their barn doors); photography: St. Veronica (when Jesus was carrying his cross, legend says she wiped his face with her veil. The image of his face appeared on her veil: the first “photograph” in history! This story is not found in scripture); plumbers and builders: St. Vincent Ferrer (a Dominican who lived during the time there were three popes! I guess he cleaned the clogged pipes of church leadership and helped re-build the Church!); politicians: St. Thomas More (a layman who was chancellor of England during the reign of King Henry VIII. Thomas’ loyalty to his king had limits. Because he refused to accept Henry as leader of the Church, Thomas lost not only his office but also his head.) Popes: St. Peter (one would expect him) and St. Gertrude the Great (she counseled Popes during her life time)
postal workers: St. Gabriel the Archangel (he was entrusted with delivering the most significant “letter” in history: God’s asking Mary to be the mother of Jesus); rheumatoid arthritis sufferers: St. James the Greater, St. Killian, St. Servatus (many people get arthritis, so we need many patron saints here); scientists: St. Albert the Great; seasickness and sailors: Erasmus also known as St. Elmo… (I wonder if he was ticklish?)
silence: St. John Nepomucene (a popular Czech saint, a priest, who refused to reveal what the Queen of Bohemia had said in confession. Tradition says he was killed because of this); stock brokers: St. Matthew (makes sense); teachers: Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. John Baptist de la Salle (founder of the Christian Brothers), St. Angela Merici (founder of the Ursulines), St. Julie Billiart (founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame), and others;
television: St. Clare (the legend says one day she was too ill to attend Mass in chapel. But the sounds and images of the entire Mass appeared on the wall of her room. I bet it was hi-def too!); toothaches and dentists: Apollonia (it alludes to the way she was tortured before being martyred. I won’t go into detail) ; zoos: St. Francis of Assisi (you probably could have guessed that).
Did anything stand out for you in this reflection?
Do you ever pray to the saints? If so, which one(s) and why? If not, why not?
Do you have a favorite saint?
In honor of Pentecost, I chose this song: “Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God” by Keith and Kristyn Getty. I like it because it names many of the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as faithfulness, joy, gentleness, kindness, peace… I wish all these gifts for all of you, my wonderful readers…
I invite you to comment below on anything related to today’s reflection, song, pictures…