Today as we celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, we’re taking a look at his good works and a heavenly handful of fellow patron saints who are believed to watch over every aspect of our lives.
Today is a day to revel in all things Irish thanks to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who, as legend had it, drove away all the snakes from the island nation and introduced the Holy Trinity through the three-leaved shamrock. St. Patrick is believed to have died on March 17th, and it is on this day that many celebrate it as both a religious and cultural holiday.
Thousands of saints are a part of the Christian faith, and many of them are venerated as patron saints who are believed to guard the devoted in all aspects of life. There are saints who watch over specific occupations (doctors, musicians) and even entire countries. Others protect the faithful from ailments, while others assist in lost causes. Often they are martyrs whose miraculous and gory stories continue to fascinate and horrify.
St. Luke is one of the four evangelists and the patron saint of physicians, surgeons, artists and butchers. He is symbolized by an ox, and is believed by some to have painted the first icon. Holy relics of St. Luke lie in Italy and Greece.
It’s believed that a king tempted St. Christopher with women and riches to convert away from Christianity without success. Today the saint is known not only as the patron of travelers, but also as a figure who was reduced in holy stature by a modern pope—similar to how Pluto is no longer a planet.
Known as “The Wonder-Worker,” this historic Greek figure was born in modern-day Turkey and is the patron saint of children, sailors and sea merchants. He is also associated with secret gift-giving because he provided the dowry for three poor sisters.
St. Catherine is the patron saint of unmarried girls, spinners and potters. Under the orders of a Roman emperor, she was beaten, imprisoned and then tortured on a large spiked wheel, known as a “breaking wheel,” before being decapitated. A type of fireworks, the Catherine wheel, is named after her.
St. Anthony of Padua was born into a noble Portuguese family and traveled to Italy, where his gifted preaching became famous. This Franciscan was the patron of all lost causes, people and articles. He was canonized only a year after his death in 1231, a process that usually can take hundreds of years.