Patron Saints: Table of Contents:
- What are patron saints?
- Patron saints of countries
- Patron saints causes and devotions
- Hallow and the saints
- Common questions about patron saints
Saints hold a special place in the body of the Catholic Church and are especially prominent in its prayer life.
The USCCB describes saints as people in heaven “who lived heroically virtuous lives, offered their life for others, or were martyred for the faith, and who are worthy of imitation.”
Reflecting on the connection between prayer and the communion of saints, Pope Francis said, “When we pray, we never do so alone: even if we do not think about it, we are immersed in a majestic river of invocations that precedes us and proceeds after us.”
Sometimes, people, churches, and organizations share a special connection to a saint. This refers to the concept of patronage, and a certain saint being known as “the patron saint of” a particular group.
What Are Patron Saints?
Patron saints are members of the communion of saints who certain groups look to for special intercession.
History and tradition often dictate patron saints, but individuals and groups also can choose a patron saint.
This commonly occurs during Confirmation, when those being confirmed (the “confirmandi”) choose a saint’s name as part of the process for this important sacrament.
Organizations often choose saints that align with their mission or those they feel a special connection to.
For example, Catholic University’s Institute for Transformation of Catholic Education (ITCE) chose patron saints connected to education.
It explains that it seeks “patronage and prayers of the great educator saints who have gone before us. ITCE looks in a special way to six patron saints who exemplify our guiding principles”:
- St. Augustine of Hippo
- St. Thomas Aquinas
- St. Catherine of Siena
- St. Elizabeth Ann Seon
- St. Edith Stein
- St. John Paul II
Hallow’s patron saint is St. Teresa of Avila.
Patron Saints of Countries
The early 20th-century work “The Catholic Encyclopedia” explains that the term “patron” may be applied to a church, a district, a country, or a corporation.
While church patrons are usually self-evident in their name, countries also have patron saints (sometimes more than one!) that might be less widely known–perhaps because they can shift over time.
Here are popular patron saints associated with different countries around the world:
- Australia: St. Mary MacKillop
- Brazil – Mary as Our Lady of Aparecida
- China – St. Joseph
- Colombia – Mary as Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá
- England – St. George
- India – St. Thomas (who died in India)
- Ireland – St. Patrick
- Mexico – Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Nigeria – St. Patrick
- Norway – St. Olaf
- Poland – Mary as Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland
- Scotland – St. Andrew
- Spain – St. James
- United States – Mary of the Immaculate Conception
Smaller regions can have specific patron saints as well. St. Junipero Serra is the patron saint of the state of California. At the same time, St. Vibiana is considered the patron saint of Los Angeles and St. Francis of Assisi the patron saint of San Francisco.
List of Patron Saints and their Causes/Devotions
Groups of people united in specific causes also identify with patron saints, though they are usually not officially recognized by the Church in the same way that the Church recognizes the patronage of a country or church building.
Still, these saints are important to these groups and often play a crucial role in the faith life of their members.
- Alcoholics – Venerable Matt Talbot (Not a saint but considered patron of those struggling with alcohol abuse)
- Animals – St. Francis of Assisi
- Children – St. Nicholas
- Computer programmers – Bl. Carlo Acutis
- Fertility and Pregnancy – St. Gianna
- Healing – St. Raphael
- Jobs – St. Cajetan (patron of job-seekers/unemployed)
- Lost Causes – St. Jude (pray the St. Jude Novena)
- Nurses – St. Camillus (patron of all those in healthcare)
- Police Officer – St. Michael the Archangel
- Poor – St. Vincent de Paul (known as “charity’s saint”)
- Protection – St. Michael the Archangel (pray the St. Michael Chaplet)
- Soldiers – St. Michael the Archangel
- Students – St. Thomas Aquinas
- Travelers – St. Christopher
- Workers – St. Joseph the Worker
There can be patrons for even more specific causes and devotions. For example, while St. Raphael is considered the patron saint of healing, one might ask for the intercession of St. Bernardine of Siena, patron saint of respiratory illnesses, if dealing with a condition specific to the lungs.
Similarly, while St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of students, someone struggling to promptly complete homework assignments might look to St. Expeditus, patron saint of procrastinators.
Catholics never pray to saints. Rather, saints are venerated and Catholics ask for their intercession. Catholics ask saints to pray to God. Their example of boldly living their faith can inspire us and lead us closer to God.
All Saints Day recognizes all the holy men and women saints in heaven.
Hallow and the Saints
The Hallow app has an entire Daily Saint section dedicated to sharing the story of one saint each day, to inspire your own prayer life and journey toward holiness.
Our Saints in 7 Days Series dives deeper into the lives of prominent saints, exploring their journey to sainthood how it’s relevant to our own lives.
Learn about saints by downloading the Hallow app today.
Frequently Asked Questions about Patron Saints
There are many! Many saints are patrons of different places or groups. St. Mary and St. Joseph are among the most popular patron saints.
Adding up patron saints of continents, countries, states and cities, the list would easily approach one thousand different patron saints. Throw in patron saints of organizations and causes, and there are even more.
Because many patron saints of different causes are not official titles, there’s no official, comprehensive list of all saints and their patronages.
Patron saints are “assigned by a venerable tradition, or chosen by election as a special intercessor with God.”