At the 12 step meetings I attend, a usual reading contains the phrase that “we are not saints.” As soon as it’s read, a friend always says “Thank God!” We are so used to hearing that “Thank God” that someone will usually say it if our friend isn’t there.
Yesterday was All Saints Day. Throughout my growing up years we went to Mass on the 1st of November, walking in the dawn light (or dark) to Church at 6:30 a.m. If you’d ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up back in those days, I would have said a saint. Nothing too nuts about that. Guess I was trying to aim high. The concept lost its appeal when our mother told me that most saints became saints through martyrdom. Yikes. Change of plans.
The Catholic Church has 10,000 people who have been officially proclaimed as saints. I invoked the name of St. Anthony when Bob lost his car keys. It’s something that I’ve always done since Anthony is the patron saint of lost things. According to Catholics.org, patron saints are special protectors or guardians. Popes can make the patron designation, but so can cities and community groups. I don’t know if Anthony helped; I was getting ready to invoke St. Jude (patron saint of impossible causes) to back him up if the keys didn’t materialize. Since they did, Jude got to take the night off.
Checking out saints that I might need in my life, I found Matt Talbot. Matt Talbot (who is a saint in waiting) is the unofficial patron saint of alcoholics. He was an Irish carpenter who quit drinking in 1887, devoted himself to prayer, made amends to everyone he had hurt, and spent his life helping others. He died in 1925. He’s not a full saint yet since they haven’t been able to attribute enough miracles to him. He’s probably been flying around to alcoholics for the past 86 years and they think they are hallucinating.
Here are some patron saints who are on the edge of really weird.
1. St. Nicholas–You wouldn’t expect him on this list, but he is the patron saint of an unusual group of people. We associate him with children and Christmas. In Turkey, women who didn’t have a dowry often ended up as prostitutes. Legend has it that Nicholas dropped 3 bags of gold coins down the chimney of a very poor man who had 3 daughters, thus saving them from a life as women of the evening. St. Nicholas is also known as the patron saint of prostitutes.
2. St. Fiacre–He’s a hermit priest who is the patron saint of STD’s. It isn’t because he had one or helped out those who did, but because he had an intense aversion to women.
3. Saint Drogo—A Flemish nobleman was reportedly able to maintain his presence in two locations at once. Witnesses claimed seeing Drogo working in fields simultaneously and going to mass every Sunday. He is the patron saint of coffee and coffeehouses; I nominate him as the patron saint of multitaskers.
4. Gertrude of Nivelles–In charge of an abbey in Belgium, Gertrude had an intense dislike of mice and kept herds of cats to keep the mice at bay. She’s both the patron saint of cats and of those who suffer from suriphobia (fear of rodents).
5. Hubert of Liege–He’s a French nobleman who wears many patron hats. He supposedly found a crucifix in the antlers of a deer he shot and became a devoted Christian. I like the fact that he is specifically the patron saint of bad behaving hunting dogs. Now Halo has a patron saint.
6. Arnold of Soissons–This Belgian priest is the patron saint of beer and brewers. He encouraged the peasants in his village to drink beer, calling it “the gift of life.” I’ve called it the same thing, but not since I joined a 12 step program.
7. St. Godebertha–The name is enough to make her patron of SOMETHING. She is the patron saint of drought relief since she put out a fire that was consuming the town of Noyon. She made a sign of the cross and torrential rains took care of the rest. She also drove the rats out of Noyon at the same time so maybe she and Gertrude should get together.
8. St. Clotilde and St. Matilda–These women are the patron saints of mothers who have disappointing children. Really. Clotilde’s 3 sons fought over control of their father’s kingdom and Clotilde had to go into exile to keep from being murdered by them. Matilda’s son Otto tried to have her convicted of larceny because she was using royal treasury money to help the poor.
9. St. Eugene of Mazenod–He is the patron saint of disfunctional families. A crazy grandmother and a nutty aunt controlled the family. When his family fled France during the Revolution, his parents divorced and he was left, more or less, to fend for himself. He became a priest and worked among the poor.
10. Jesus Malverde—He is not officially a saint and the church isn’t likely to name him one, but tell that to those who visit his shrine in Culiacon. Malverde is a folklore hero in Mexico and legend says law enforcement officers killed him on May 3, 1909. In the Mexican state of Sinaloa, he is a Robin Hood figure. He is popular amongst the poor and the drug trafficking business adopted him as their Patron Saint. They come regularly to his shrine to pray for miracles. Not being arrested by the DEA while visiting his shrine could be one of them.