Catholic Encyclopedia – Patron Saints

Article

A patron is one who has been assigned by a venerable tradition, or chosen by election, as a special intercessor with God and the proper advocate of a particular locality, and is honoured by clergy and people with a special form of religious observance. The term “patron”, being wider in its meaning than that of “titular”, may be applied to a church, a district, a country, or a corporation. The word “titular” is applied only to the patron of a church or institution. Both the one and the other, according to the legislation now in force, must have the rank of a canonized saint.

Patrons of Churches

Origin

During the first three centuries of the Church’s history, the faithful assembled for worship in private houses, in cemeteries, or other retired places. At intervals it had been possible to erect or adapt buildings for the sacred rites of religion. Such buildings, however, were not dedicated to the saints, but were spoken of as the House of God, the House of Prayer, and sometimes as the Temple of God. They were also known as Kyriaca, Dominica, or Oratoria. Larger structures received the name of basilicas, and the term church (ecclesia) was constantly employed to designate the place where the faithful assembled to hear the word of God and partake of the sacraments. After peace had been given to the Church by Constantine, sacred edifices were freely erected, the emperor setting the example by the character and magnificence of his own foundations. The Christians had always held in deep reverence the memory of the heroes who had sealed with blood the profession of their faith. The celebration of the solemn rites had long been intimately associated with the places where the bodies of the martyrs reposed, and the choice of sites for the new edifices was naturally determined by the scene of the martyrs’ sufferings, or by the spot where their sacred remains lay enshrined. The great basilicas founded by Constantine, or during his lifetime, illustrate this tendency. The churches of Saint Peter, Saint Paul outside the walls, Saint Lawrence in Agro Verano, Saint Sebastian, Saint Agnes on the Via Nomentana were all cemeterial basilicas, i.e. they were built over the spot where the bodies of each of these saints lay buried. The same practice finds illustration in the churches of Saints Domitilla and Generosa, Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Saint Felix at Nola, and others. From this custom of rendering honour to the relics of the martyrs were derived the names of Memoriœ (memorial churches), Martyria, or Confessio, frequently given to churches. The name of “Title” (Titulus) has from the earliest times been employed with reference to the name of the saint by which a church is known. The practice of placing the body or some relics of a martyr under the altar of sacrifice has been perpetuated in the Church, but the dedication was early extended to confessors and holy women who were not martyrs. The underlying doctrine of patrons is that of the communion of saints, or the bond of spiritual union existing between God’s servants on earth, in heaven, or in purgatory. The saints are thereby regarded as the advocates and intercessors of those who are making their earthly pilgrimage.

Choice of patrons

Down to the seventeenth century popular devotion, under the guidance of ecclesiastical authority, chose as the titulars of churches those men or women renowned for their miracles, the saintliness of their lives, or their apostolic ministry in converting a nation to the Gospel. Pope Urban VIII on 23 March 1638) laid down the rules that should guide the faithful in the future selection of patrons of churches, cities, and countries, without, however, interfering with the traditional patrons then venerated. As during the days of persecution the most illustrious among the Christians were those who had sacrificed their lives for the faith, it was to be expected that during the fourth century the selection of the names of martyrs as titulars would everywhere prevail. But with the progress of the Church in times of comparative peace, with the development of the religious life, and the preaching of the Gospel in the different countries of Europe and Asia, bishops, priests, hermits, and nuns displayed in their lives lofty examples of Christian holiness. Churches, therefore, began to be dedicated in their honour. The choice of a particular patron has depended upon many circumstances. These, as a rule, have been one or other of the following

  • The possession of the body or some important relic of the saint
  • his announcement of the Gospel to the nation
  • his labours or death in the locality
  • his adoption as the national patron
  • the special devotion of the founder of the church
  • the spirit of ecclesiastical devotion at a given time

Leo XIII enumerated (28 November 1897) as characteristic religious movements of our time: devotion to the Sacred Heart, to Our Lady of the Rosary, to Saint Joseph, and to the Blessed Sacrament. It should be clearly understood that a church is, and always has been, dedicated to God: other dedications are annexed on an entirely different plane. Thus a church is dedicated to God in honour (for example) of the Blessed Virgin and the saints. A typical form is the following: “Deo sacrum in honorem deiparæ immaculatæ et SS. Joannis Baptistæ et Evangelistæ.” In 1190 a collegiate church in Dublin was dedicated “to God, Our Blessed Lady, and Saint Patrick”. Sometimes out of several who are mentioned the patron is expressly designated, as in the dedication of a chaplainry in Arngask (Scotland) in 1527, “for the praise, glory, and honour of the indivisible Trinity, the most glorious Virgin and Saint Columba, abbot, our patron of the parish”. The celestial patronage here considered will be restricted in the first instance to churches and chapels. Patrons in different countries generally present a distinctly national colouring; but the principles which have governed the selection of names will be made apparent by the examination of a few instances. In comparing place with place, the rank or precedence of patrons should be kept in view. A convenient arrangement will be the following:

Dedications

  • to God and the Sacred Humanity of Christ or its emblems
  • to the Mother of God
  • to the Angels
  • to the holy personages who introduced the New Law of Christ
  • to the Apostles and Evangelists
  • to other saints

Rome

Rome is illustrious for churches named after its local martyrs. The most important are the basilicas of Saint Peter, of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, of Saint Lawrence, Saint Sebastian, and of Saint Agnes in the Via Nomentana. Other churches have received their title from the fact of being constructed in connexion with houses belonging to the martyrs in question: Saint Clement’s, Saint Pudentiana’s, Saint Alexius’s, Saint Cecilia’s, Saint Praxedes’s, Saint Bartholomew’s, Saints John and Paul, Saint Frances’s of Rome. Santa Croce recalls Saint Helen; the Domine quo vadis chapel refers to the meeting of Our Lord and Saint Peter on the Appian Way; San Pietro in Carcere is erected above the Mamertine prison; San Pietro in Montorio adjoins the place of Saint Peter’s martyrdom; San Pietro in Vincoli contains the actual chains with which Saint Peter was bound. Saint John Lateran’s was first dedicated to Our Saviour, but the title was changed in the twelfth century; Saint Gregory on the Cœlian recalls the home of Saint Gregory and the site of the church he built in honour of Saint Andrew; Saint Lorenzo in Damaso recalls its founder, Pope Damasus. There are thirty-four churches dedicated to the Mother of God, distinguished often topographically (as Sta Maria in Via lata, or Sta Maria in Trastevere) and also in other ways (as Sta Maria Maggiore, so called in relation to other Roman churches of Our Lady, Sta Maria della Pace, Sta Maria dell’ Anima, etc.). The formal dedications to God consist of Trinità dei Pellegrini, Trinità dei Monti, S. Spirito in Sassia, S. Salvatore in Lauro, S. Salvatore in Thermis, and the Gesu. There are no dedications to the Angels nor (until recently) to Saint Joseph, the Sacred Heart, All Saints, or All Souls. In a few instances titulars occur more than once: Lawrence, 6; Peter, 4; Paul, Andrew, Charles, John, Nicholas, 3 each (see Rome).

England

Saint Augustine and his companions brought with them to England the Roman customs and traditions respecting the naming and dedication of churches. Altars were consecrated with the ashes of the martyrs. One of the earliest dedication prayers of the Anglo-Saxon Church runs thus: “Tibi, sancta Dei genitrix, virgo Maria (vel tibi, sancte J. B. Domini, . . . vel martyres Christi, vel confessores Domini) tibi commendamus hanc curam templi hujus, quod consecravimus Domino Deo nostro, ut hic intercessor existas; preces et vota offerentium hic Domino Deo offeras; odoramenta orationum plebis . . . ad patris thronum conferas”, etc. (Lingard, “The History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church”, II 40). Among the titulars of the Anglo-Saxon period are found: Christ Church (Canterbury), Saint Mary’s de Comeliis, Saint Mary’s of Huntingdon, and of Lyming, All Hallows (Lincoln), Peter (to whom the greater part of the Anglo-Saxon churches were dedicated), Peter and Paul (Canterbury), Paul (Jarrow), Andrew (Rochester), Martin (near Canterbury), Pancratius (Canterbury). Accepting the figures of F. A. Foster in her “Studies in Church Dedications”, and without drawing a line between pre-Reformation and post-Reformation English churches (not now Catholic), we get the following enumeration of titulars: Christ 373, Holy Cross or Holy Rood 83, Michael, or Michael the Archangel, or Saint Michael and the Angels 721 (one in six of the churches, ancient and modern, now attached to the Established Church bears the name of Our Lady or one of her titles, the total being 2162, and the proportion in pre-Reformation times was still larger), John Baptist, 576; Peter, 936; Peter and Paul, 277; Paul, 329; Holy Innocents, 15; Helen, 117; Augustine of Canterbury, 57; Thomas of Canterbury, 70; Nicholas, 397; Lawrence, 228. The Catholic Church in England at the present time has shown the same spirit of conservatism and of independence which is everywhere manifested in the choice of patrons. Among the chief of the 170 dedications to God of the churches and chapels (not counting religious houses, colleges, or institutions), the numbers are: Holy Trinity, 16; Holy Cross, 15; Sacred Heart, 90. Consecrations in honour of the Blessed Virgin maintain their ancient pre-eminence, reaching a total of 374. The simple designation of Saint Mary’s is the most frequent appellation. The form “Our Lady” occurs usually in combination with other titles. Among the numerous special titles are the following: Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, Help of Christians, Star of the Sea, Assumption, Our Lady of the Rosary. One church only bears the title of the Transfiguration, and one only is distinguished by each of the following titles: Our Lady of Refuge, of England, of Pity, of Paradise, of Reparation, of Reconciliation, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, Most Pure Heart of Mary. The angels are not favoured, Michael standing almost alone, but with 38 dedications. Saint John Baptist has 20, while the name of Joseph appears as titular in no fewer than 145 churches. Apostles and Evangelists reach a total of 153: Peter leads the way with 43; the Beloved Disciple counts his 30, Peter and Paul follow with 17. Each of the remaining Apostles has at least two churches under his invocation, except Matthias, Barnabas, and Mark, who have but one. Among the male saints: Anthony of Padua, Charles, Edward, Edmund, George, and Richard have each between 10 and 20; but Patrick, with 46, heads the list; then follow Augustine 22, Benedict 19, Cuthbert 18, and Francis of Assisi 21. A special interest attaches to names which occur but once, for frequently they are dedications to a local saint, as in the instances of Birinus (Dorchester), Dubritius (Treforest), Gwladys (Newport, Mon.), Ia (Saint Ives), Neot (Liscard), Oswin (Tynemouth), Prian (Truro), Teilo (Tenby), Simon Stock (Faversham), Frideswide (Abingdon), and Walstan (Cossey). Nothing could have been more appropriate than the saints’ names selected in the northern dioceses corresponding with the ancient Northumbria. There we meet with dedications to Aidan, Bede, Bennet, Columba, Cuthbert, Ninian, Hilda, Oswald, etc. Among the female saints Anne, the mother of Our Lady, occupies a position of eminence with 30 churches, Winefrid ranks next with 10, and Catherine follows with 8. The Saxon virgins and widows are honoured in the localities which they hallowed by their saintly lives, thus: Begh (Northumbria); Etheldreda (Ely); Hilda (Whitby); Mildred (Minster); Modwena (Burtonon-Trent); Osberg (Coventry); Wereburg (Chester); Winefrid (Holywell).

Scotland (Celtic and Medieval)

In the days of the Picts, Saint Peter was held in preference, from A.D. 710 when Roman usages were adopted, but Andrew claimed the greater number of dedications from the time his relics had been brought to the coast by Saint Regulus. As instances of double titulars, native and foreign, the following may be taken: Saint Mary and Saint Manchar (Old Aberdeen); Saint Mary and Saint Boniface; Saints Mary and Peter; Madrustus and John Baptist; Stephen and Moanus. In pre-Reformation times Holy Trinity occurred less frequently than in England; the Holy Ghost is met with three times; many churches bore the title of Christ (Kilchrist, Kildomine); Holy Blood and Holy Rood are found in several instances. A chapel styled “Teampull-Cro-Naomh” (Temple of the Holy Heart) once stood on the shore at Gauslan in Lews. Numerous churches bore Our Lady’s name (Lady Kirk); the Assumption is found as early as 1290, and a church is dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto in 1530. Many churches had Saint Michael for patron (Kilmichael). Saint Anne is the titular in several places, and an altar to the Three Kings existed in almost every church. Saint Joseph is nowhere found as a church titular, though he held the position of joint titular of an altar in 1518. The present day. — The choice of titulars in the Catholic churches of Scotland at the present time displays the same twofold direction that we find elsewhere: the honour of the saints of Scotland and of other lands, and the promptings of modern devotion. The Sacred Heart has 8 dedications, the Holy Rood 3. The Apostles receive the special honour of 39 churches, John being the patron of 13, and Andrew of 7. 77 churches are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, of which 11 celebrate the Immaculate Conception, 7 bear the title of Star of the Sea; Our Lady of the Waves and Our Lady of Good Aid stand alone. Churches with the titles of modern saints are in a minority, for Patrick takes the lead with 12; Ninian, Scotland’s first apostle, has 6; Columba 5; Mungo 4; David 3; and Margaret 2. Many Celtic saints occur but once, as for example, Bean, Brendan, Cadoc, Columbkille, Fillian, Kessog, Kieran, Mirin, and Winning.

Ireland

The history of the patron saints of Ireland has yet to be written. The country has passed through long periods of trouble and oppression, yet several of the Celtic dedications have been preserved and linger in some districts even to this day. The Catholic church is often known simply by the name of the street in which it is situated, as the Cathedral, Marlborough Saint, Dublin, or the Jesuit church in Gardiner Street. A similar instance occurs in Dublin with regard to the church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, but always styled “Adam and Eve”, from the fact that when the building was erected in the seventeenth century, there swung at the end of the alley, in which the chapel was situated, a public-house sign with the full figures of our first parents. The two religious edifices in a town are sometimes called the “Cathedral” and the “Old Chapel”. In the days of persecution, when churches and endowments had alike been confiscated, the conditions of Catholic worship recalled the secrecy of the catacombs. During the nineteenth century the old “barns” that had so long served for chapels were replaced by beautiful and spacious churches for which Irish saints were frequently selected as patrons; but as a rule the choice has been determined by the tendencies of modern devotion. There are dedications to the Sacred Heart, to Our Lady under her various titles, and to many of the more recently canonized saints, such as Saint Vincent and Saint Francis de Sales. Still the people continue to refer to the churches by the names of the streets. In Celtic times man churches were dedicated to Our Lady and called Kilmurray. All the Donaghmore (Dominica Major) churches were dedicated to Saint Patrick, because they had been founded by him. Other dedications include Bridget (Kilbride), Peter (Kilpedder), Paul (Kilpool), Catherine of Alexandria (Killadreenan, Kilcatherine). The Holy Sepulchre found a place among the oldest dedications. In Dublin or the neighbourhood the titles of Peter, Bride Martin, Kevin, McTail (Saint Michael-lePole), Nicholas within and Nicholas without the walls, were to be met with. Then there were churches under the patronage of All Hallows, Macud (Kilmacud), Machonna, Fintan, Brendan (Carrickbrenan), Begnet (Saint Bega, Kilbegnet), Gobhain (Kilgobbin), Tiernan (Kilter, Kilternan). Bern’s church was so called because founded by a priest of Byrne’s clan. The title of Cell-Ingen-Leinin (Church of the five daughters of Leinin, whence the name Killiney) was so called from its founders. New names were introduced by the Normans, as Audven (Dublin), being Saint Ouen of. Rouen. The colony from Chester, brought over to repeople Dublin which had been decimated by the plague at the end of the twelfth century, erected a church dedicated to their patroness, Saint Werburg.

Continental Europe

With regard to the patrons of churches on the continent of Europe it must suffice to mention that in France alone there are 3000 dedications under the invocation of Saint Martin, and then to take a glance at the single diocese of Bruges in Belgium: Bruges is the diocese of an old country that has never lost the faith. Its churches have 95 titulars which are distributed as follows: Holy Trinity 1; Holy Redeemer 2; Sacred Heart 3; Exaltation of the Holy Cross 3; Our Lady (Notre Dame) 24; Immaculate Conception 4; Assumption 6; Nativity 4. Michael holds the patronage of 7 churches, Joseph of 5, and John the Baptist of 16: Seven of the Apostles are honoured with 63 dedications: Peter has 23; Peter’s Chains 3; Paul 5; Conversion of Paul 2; Bartholomew 6; James 6; and John only 3. Every town and district of Belgium is hallowed with the traditions of the holy men and women of ancient days, so that the devotion shown to the saints of other countries is not a little remarkable. Out of 57 male saints adopted as titulars Martin has the highest number, namely 20; Nicholas 13; Lawrence 8; Blaise 6. Amand, Apostle of the Flemings, has been chosen patron of 19 churches, Audomar of 8; Bavo, the hermit of Ghent, of 7; Eligius of 10; Medard of 6; and Vaast of 4.

United States

The fourteen archdioceses of the United States have been examined as affording suitable material for a study of local piety, namely, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dubuque, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York, Oregon City, Philadelphia, Saint Louis, Saint Paul, San Francisco, and Santa Fé. Over this area are found some 300 churches under dedications of the first rank, the principal ones being here enumerated: Most Holy Trinity 27; Holy Ghost 10; Holy Redeemer 11; Sacred Heart 109; Blessed Sacrament (including Corpus Christi 4, Holy Eucharist 1) 14; Holy Name 12; Holy Cross 19. The life of Christ is adequately represented, thus: Incarnation 3; Nativity 9; Epiphany 3; Transfiguration 4; Resurrection 3; Ascension 9. Other titles may be mentioned: Holy Spirit 3; Gesu 2; Atonement, Good Shepherd, Holy Comforter, Holy Saviour, Providence of God, Saint Sauveur, and Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary 1 each. With the increasing realization of the gifts of the Incarnation which appears in modern devotions, it will excite little wonder that some 500 or more churches are dedicated to the Mother of God under one or other of her many titles, the principal being: Saint Mary 148; Immaculate Conception 105; Assumption 36; Holy Rosary 19; Annunciation 12; Visitation 10; Star of the Sea 9; Presentation 6; Nativity 5; Holy Name of Mary 3; Maternity 3; Immaculate Heart of Mary 2; Purification 2; Most Pure Heart of Mary 1. Titles from the Litany of Loreto attract in so far as they represent the more recent expressions of Catholic devotion, thus: Mother of God 2; Mother of Divine Grace 1; Our Lady of Good Counsel 10; Gate of Heaven 1; Help of Christians 13; Queen of the Angels 1; Our Lady of the Angels 6; Our Lady of the Rosary 11. With the foregoing list certain derivative titles may be connected: Our Lady of Consolation 6; of Good Voyage 1; of Grace 3; of Help 2; of Mercy 4; of Perpetual Help 10; of Pity 2; of Prompt Succour 1; of Refuge 1; of Solace 1; of Sorrows 6; of the Lake 5; of the Sacred Heart 3; of the Seven Dolours 5; of the Snow 1; of Victory 8. The following geographical determinations occur: Our Lady of Czestochowa 4; of Guadalupe 8; of Hungary 2; of Loreto 4; of Mount Cannel 22; of Lourdes 14; of Pompeii 4; of Vilna 2. Notre Dame de Bon Port, du Bon Secours, de Chicago, de la Paix, Nuestra Señora de Belen, del Pilar, Sancta Maria Addolorata, and Sancta Maria Incoronata, 1 each, suggest French, Spanish, and Italian affiliations.

The list of male saints in the fourteen dioceses comprises 156 names, and the female 41. For the sake of convenience these have been divided into groups. 10 churches are dedicated to All Saints, the Apostles in general have 1; Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, 58; James 26; Andrew 15; Thomas 11; Matthias 5; Philip 5; Barnabas 3; Bartholomew 2; Jude 1; the Evangelists have: John 59; Matthew 13; Mark 9; Luke 6. Saint Paul is honoured with 26 dedications; Peter and Paul have 28; Philip and James 3; John and James 1. Michael the Archangel has 57; the Holy Angels 6; the Guardian Angels 7; Gabriel 7; Raphael 10. In the long list of male saints Joseph heads the list with 183 dedications, followed by Patrick who counts 83, and then in numerical order: John the Baptist and Anthony 43 each; Francis of Assisi and Stephen 23 each; Augustine and Vincent 19 each; Francis de Sales, Francis Xavier, and Lawrence 16 each; Bernard, Ignatius, and Thomas Aquinas 15 each; Aloysius, Charles, and Louis 14 each; Alphonsus and Nicholas 11 each; Leo and Martin 10 each; Dominic 9; Edward 8; Ambrose, Clement Jerome, and Joachim 7 each; Benedict and Pius 6; Gregory 5; Anselm, Athanasius, Bonaventure, Denis, Hubert, Maurice, Peter Claver, and Philip Neri 3 each; Dionysius, Eloi, Ferdinand, Francis Borgia, Gall, Hyacinth, Isidore, Liborius, Nicholas of Tolentino, Sebastian, Vincent Ferrer, and William 2 each; Albert, Alphonsus Turibius, Anthony the Hermit, Basil, Bride, Canicius, Cyprian, Cyril, David, Donatus, Edmund, Engelbert, Eustachius, Fiorian, Fidelis, Francis Solano, Frederick, Irenæus, John Baptist de la Salle, John Berchmans, John Capistrano, John Chrysostom, John Francis Regis, John the Martyr, Kyran, Landry, Lazarus, Leander, Leon, Leonard of Port Maurice, Luis Bertrand, Maron, Martin of Tours, Maurus, Nicholas of Myra, Napoleon, Norbert, Raymund, Rock, Theodore, Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of Villanova, Timothy, Valentine, Viator, Victor, Willebrod, Zephyrin, 1 each.

The female patronesses are 41 in number, those whose names appear more frequently being: Anne 36; Rose 22; the three Catherines 21; Teresa 14; Agnes 13; Cecilia 12; Margaret 10; Elizabeth 9; Monica 8; Genevieve 6; Philomena 5. Clare Gertrude, and Mary Magdalen 4 each; Agatha, Helen, and Veronica 3 each; Anastasia, Angela, and Lucy 2 each; Barbara, Cunegunde, Elizabeth of Hungary, Eulalia, Frances of Rome, Madeline, Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, Scholastica, Sylvia, Ursula, Victoria, Walburga, 1 each. Among the saints, more than in any other class, the nationality of devotion finds occasion for its manifestation. Celtic centres are shown by such titles as: Brendan 5; Canice 1; Colman 3; Columba 5; Columbanus 2; Columbkille 6; Cronan 1; Finbar 1; Jarlath 1; Kevin 1; Kilian 3; Lawrence O’Toole 3; Malachy 6; Mel 1; Attracta 1; Bridget 11; Ita 1; George, a widely favoured national patron, has 17 churches. Rita of Cascia 3, and Rocco 2, show the Italian; Ludmilla 1, Procopius 1, and Vitus 1, are Bohemian; Stephen with 23 suggests Hungary; Boniface with 21 dedications, and Henry with 8, tell of Germany. Benedict the Moor (New York) is the patron of the church for negroes; The numerous Polish population has adopted distinctive patrons: Adalbert 8; Casimir 10; Cyril and Methodius 8; Josaphat 3; John Cantius 4; John Nepomucene 8; Ladislaus 1; Stanislaus 23; Vojtiechus 1; Wenceslaus 9; Hedwig 6; Salomea 1.

Canada

In the Dominion of Canada, to a very great extent, the name of a district or village is the same as that of the patron of the church. Obviously the different localities have been named after their respective patrons. The number of titulars is considerable, the names having been assigned on the plan of avoiding repetitions. In the list examined the names of about 400 male, and 100 female, saints are represented, and the entire range of popular devotion is covered. It is a surprise to find that in this long list of provincial divisions no dedications are to be found to the Most Holy Trinity, the Holy Ghost, the Blessed Sacrament. Moreover, only five are to be found which in any way relate to Christ or the mysteries of His life, these being, Saint Sauveur, Le Précieux Sang, L’Epiphanie, Sacré Cœur de Jésus, L’Ascension. The Holy Family is represented, also the Angels Guardian, and Our Lady under the various mysteries of her life and many of her most popular titles of devotion, such as: La Conception, La Présentation, L’Annunciation, La Visitation, L’Assomption, Notre Dame de la Mercie, Notre Dame de la Paix, Notre Dame des Anges, Notre Dame des Nièges, Notre Dame de Bon Conseil, Notre Dame du Mont Carmel, Notre Dame du Rosaire, Sacré Cœur de Marie etc. The patrons of churches, outside the class just referred to, have been listed according to the number of churches dedicated to them in the Archdioceses of Halifax, Kingston, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Saint Boniface, Toronto, Vancouver, and the Archdiocese of Saint John’s, Newfoundland, and are as follows: Most Holy Trinity 2; Holy Ghost 1; Sacred Heart 15; Most Holy Redeemer 1; Holy Name of Jesus 2; Infant Jesus 3; Holy Child 1; Holy Family 5; Blessed Sacrament, Transfiguration, Ascension, Saint Sauveur, and Gesu 1 each; Holy Cross 4. To Our Lady we find: Immaculate Conception 7, Nativity 5, Presentation 2, Annunciation 4, Visitation 3, Purification 1, Assumption 6, Mary Immaculate 1, Holy Name of Mary 4, Saint Mary 9, Notre Dame 4, Notre Dame de la Consolation 1, Notre Dame de la Garde 2, Notre Dame de l’Espérance 2, Sacred Heart of Mary 5, Stella Maria 1, Our Lady Help of Christians 1, of Good Counsel 5, of Grace 4, of la Salette 2, of Loreto 1, of Lourdes 3, of Mercy 3, of Mount Carmel 6, of Peace 1, of Perpetual Succour 5, of Victory 3, of the Angels 2, of the Blessed Sacrament 1, of the Rosary 7, of the Sacred Heart 1, of the Seven Dolours 3, of the Snow 2, of the Wayside 2.

To the saints: Joseph 21; Patrick 20; Anthony 10; Louis 9; James, Michael, Paul, and Peter 8 each; John, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and Vincent de Paul 7 each. Francis of Assisi 6; Augustine, Bernard, and Charles 5 each; Edward, Francis de Sales, Francis Xavier 4 each; Ambrose, Charles Borromeo, Gabriel, George, Gerard, Joachim, Luke, Thomas Aquinas, and Viateur 3 each; Alexander, Aloysius, Anastasius, Andrew, Anselm, Columban, Edward the Confessor, Felix, Francis Regis, Germaine, Gregory, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory the Great, Ignatius, Leon of Westminster, Peter in Chains, Philip Neri, Stephen, and Thomas 2 each; Adrian, Aimé, Alfred, Alphonsus Ligouri, Arsenius, Athanasius, Barnaby, Basil, Benedict, Benjamin, Bernardin of Siena, Bonaventure, Boniface, Bride, Cajetan, Calixtus, Camillus of Lellis, Carthagh, Casimir, Clement, Columbanus, Columbkille, Cosmos, Cuthbert, Cyril and Methodius, Cyprian, Daniel, Denis, Désiré, Donatus, Dominic, Edmund, Eugene, Faustinus, Felix of Valois, Good Thief, Henry, Hugh, Hyacinth, Ignatius Loyola, Irenæus, Isidor, Jerome, John Berchmans, John Cantius, John Chrysostom, John of the Cross, Jovita, Jude, Justin, Kyran, Lawrence, Lawrence O’Toole, Leo, Malachy, Malo, Mark, Martin, Matthew, Narcissus, Nicholas, Odilo, Pascal-Baylon, Peter Celestine Philippe, Raphael, Remigius, Rock, Romuald, Sixtus, Stephen de Lauzon, Turibius, Vitalis, Vitus, Zephyrim, and Zoticus 1 each; Anne 7; Bridget and Philomena 4 each; Helen 3; Agnes, Cecilia, Emily, and Marguerite 2 each; Agatha, Anastasia, Angelica, Catherine, Catherine of Siena, Clare of Tereanville, Clotilde, Cunegundes, Elizabeth, Elizabeth of Hungary, Elizabeth of Portugal, Euphemia, Felicitas, Jeanne de Neuville, Magdalen, Margaret, Monica, Veronica, All Saints, 1 each.

Australia

This includes the Archdioceses of Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Brisbane, and the Archdiocese of Wellington, which comprises all the territory of New Zealand. The patrons of churches are: (1) Trinity 3; Good Shepherd 2; Most Holy Redeemer 3; Sacred Heart 63; Saint Saviour 1; Real Presence 1; Holy Name 4; Blessed Sacrament 2; Church of the Reparation 1; Church of the Passion 1; Holy Cross 7. (2) Saint Mary 74; Immaculate Conception 21; Nativity 1; Annunciation 1; Assumption 6; Our Lady Help of Christians 2; of Good Counsel 1; of Lourdes 1; of Mercy 1; of Mount Carmel 4; of Perpetual Succour 3; of the Rosary 11; of the Sacred Heart 1; of the Seven Dolours 3; of the Suburbs 1; of Victories 1; Refuge of Sinners 1; Auxilium Christianorum 1; Blessed Virgin 2; Holy Heart of Mary, Holy Name of Mary, Mary Immaculate, and Queen of Angels 1 each; Saint Mary of the Angels 2; Star of the Sea 19. (3) Guardian Angels 4; Holy Angels 2. (4-5) Patrick 85; Joseph 74; Michael 24; Peter 16; Peter and Paul 13; Francis of Assisi and Paul 10 each; John the Evangelist, Columba, Francis Xavier, John, Anthony, and James 8 each; Augustine and Francis de Sales 7 each; Andrew, John the Baptist, Lawrence, Matthew, and Vincent 6 each; Bede, Benedict, Lawrence O’Toole, Malachy, Stephen, and Thomas 4 each; Aidan, Brendan, Colman, and Ignatius 3 each; Aloysius, Bernard, Charles, Columbkille, Edward, Gabriel, George, Gregory Joachim, Mark, Martin, Raphael, Stanislaus, and Thomas Aquinas 2 each; Alphonsus, Ambrose, Athanasius, Barnabas, Bartholomew, Boniface, Carthagh, Clement, Cleus, Declan, Felix, Fiacre, Finbar, Furseus, Gerard, John and Paul, John Berchmans, John of God, John of the Cross, Joseph and Joachim, Kevin, Kieran, Leo, Leonard, Luke, Maro, Michael and George, Munchin, Nicholas, Nicholas of Myra, Paulinus, Peter Chanel, Philip and James, Pius, Rock, Rupert, Vigilius, William and the Apostles 1 each. (6) Brigid 19; Anne 7; Canice and Monica 4 each; Agnes 3; Margaret 2; Agatha, Clare, Gertrude, Helen, Ita, Joan of Arc, Rose of Lima, Teresa, Winefred, 1 each. All Saints 6, All Souls 2.

British South Africa

This includes the Eastern and Western Vicariates, the Vicariates of Natal, Kimberley, Transvaal, Orange River, Basutoland, and the Prefectures Apostolic of Great Namaqualand and Rhodesia. The churches are dedicated as follows: (1) Trinity 1; Sacred Heart 16; Saint Saviour 1; Holy Family 2. (2) Saint Mary 17; Immaculate Conception 12; Annunciation 1; Assumption 1; Mater Dolorosa 2; Our Lady 1; Our Lady of Good Counsel 3; of Grace 1; of Lourdes 1; of Perpetual Succour 1; of Sorrows 1; of the Rosary 4; of the Sacred Heart 2; Star of the Sea 2. (3) Michael and the Holy Angels 1. (4-5) Joseph 11; Augustine and Patrick 5 each; Francis Xavier and Michael 4 each; Peter, and Peter and Paul 3 each; Charles, Dominic, Francis de Sales, and Ignatius Loyola 2 each; Anthony, Benedict, Boniface, Columba, Francis of Assisi, Gabriel, James, Joachim, John, John the Baptist, Leo, Martin, Matthew, Paul, Peter Claver, Simon and Jude, Thomas, and Triashill, 1 each. (6) Anne and Monica 2 each; Agnes and Mechtilda, 1 each. All Saints 1.

Patrons of countries

An authentic catalogue of patron saints of countries of the world has yet to be made. Some countries appear to have no celestial patron, others have several assigned to them, and it is by no means clear that the distinction between patron and Apostle is invariably taken into account. The following list gives the patrons of some few countries of the world: Austria (Our Lady), Belgium (Saint Joseph), Brazil (declared “The Land of the Holy Cross”, 3 May, 1500), Borneo (Saint Francis Xavier), Canada (Saint Anne and Saint George), The Congo (Our lady), Chili (Saint James), England (Saint George), East Indies (Saint Thomas, Apostle), Ecuador (styled “The Republic of the Sacred Heart”), Finland (Henry of Upsal), France (Saint Denis), Germany (Saint Michael), Holland (Saint Willibrord), Hungary (Saint Stephen), Ireland (Saint Patrick), Italy (various), Lombardy (Saint Charles), Mexico (Our Lady of Help, and Our Lady of Guadaloupe), Norway (Saint Olaf), Portugal (Saint George), Piedmont (Saint Maurice), Scotland (Saint Andrew), Sweden (Saint Bridget), Spain (Saint James), South America (Saint Rose of Lima), United States of North America (Our Lady under the title of Immaculate Conception), Wales (Saint David).

Patrons of trades and professions

The beliefs of a Catholic in an age of Faith prompted him to place not only his churches under the protection of some illustrious servant of God, but the ordinary interests of life, his health, and family, trade, maladies, and perils, his death, his city and country. The whole social life of the Catholic world before the Reformation was animated with the idea of protection from the citizens of heaven. It has been stated that in England there existed 40,000 religious corporations, including ecclesiastical bodies of all kinds, monasteries and convents, military orders, industrial and professional guilds, and charitable institutions, each of which had its patron, its rites, funds, and methods of assistance. Some idea of the vastness of the subject may be gathered from a few examples of the trades under their respective patrons: Anastasia (weavers), Andrew (fishermen), Anne (houseworkers and cabinet-makers), Christopher (porters), Cloud (nailmakers), Cosmas and Damian (doctors), Crispin (shoemakers), Eloi (all workers with the hammer), Hubert (huntsmen), Lydia (dyers), Joseph (carpenters), Mark (notaries), Luke (painters), Nativity (trades for women), Raymund Nonnatus (midwives), Raymund of Pennafort (canonists), Stephen (stonemasons), Vincent Martyr (winegrowers), Vitus (comedians). Conditions of life: foundlings (Holy Innocents), girls (Blandina), boys (Aloysius), singers and scholars (Gregory), philosophers (Catherine), musicians (Cecilia), persons condemned to death (Dismas). There were patrons or protectors in various forms of illness, as for instance: Agatha (diseases of the breast), Apollonia (toothache), Blaise (sore throat), Clare and Lucy (the eyes), Benedict (against poison), Hubert (against the bite of dogs). These patrons with very many others were chosen on account of some real correspondence between the patron and the object of patronage, or by reason of some play on words, or as a matter of individual piety. Thus, while the great special patrons had their clients all over Christendom, other patrons in regard of the same class of objects might vary with different times and places.

In order to complete this imperfect and summary sketch of the subject of patrons, a list of the patrons announced by the Holy See within the last few years should here find a place: Saint Joseph was declared patron of the universal Church by Pius X on 8 December, 1870. Leo XIII during the course of his pontificate announced the following patrons: Saint Thomas Aquinas, patron of all universities, colleges, and schools (4 August, 1880); Saint Vincent, patron of all charitable societies (1 May, 1885); Saint Camillus of Lellis, patron of the sick and of those who attend on them (22 June, 1886); the patronal feast of Our Lady of the Congo to be the Assumption (21 July, 1891); Saint Bridget, patroness of Sweden (1 October, 1861); the Holy Family, the model and help of all Christian families (14 June, 1892); Saint Peter Claver, special patron of missions to the negroes (1896); Saint Paschal Baylon, patron of Eucharistic congresses and all Eucharistic societies (28 November, 1897). On 25 May, 1899, he dedicated the world to the Sacred Heart, as Prince and Lord of all, Catholics and non-Catholics, Christians and non-Christians. Lourdes was dedicated to our Lady of the Rosary (8 September, 1901). Pius X declared Saint Francis Xavier patron of the Propagation of the Faith (25 March, 1904).

The honouring of the saints has in some instances doubtless been the occasion of abuse. Spells and incantations have been intruded in the place of trust and prayer; the prayerful abstinence of a vigil has been exchanged for the rollicksome enjoyment of wakes; reverence may have run incidentally to puerile extravagance; and patrons may have been chosen before their claim to an heroic exercise of Christian virtue had been juridically established. Still it remains true that the manifestation of Christian piety in the honour paid to angels and saints has been singularly free from the taint of human excess and error.

MLA Citation

  • Parkinson, Henry. “Patron Saints”. Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 11, 1911. Saints.SQPN.com. X March 2010. Web. 23 July 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/-ce/>