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HEAVENLY PROTECTORS: Patron saints eagerly await our requests for intercession

In specific walks of life or endeavors, we ask these saints to intercede on our behalf.

On Nov. 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, paying homage to the women and men officially recognized by the Catholic Church for their holiness. They inspire us to grow in holiness to join them one day in heaven. This is of course the goal of our lives

Best of all, whether prominent or obscure, saints are ready, willing and able to help us on life’s journey. All we need to do is ask them to pray for us.

Though a common misconception in the secular world is that Catholics pray to and worship St. Mary and the other saints, Catholics actually venerate Mary and the saints, which is different. We ask them in prayer to intercede and pray on our behalf to our savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Among all saints, only several hundred are patron saints of specific causes, meaning people working in particular fields, suffering from specific conditions or enjoying different pursuits have specific patrons to appeal for intercessory prayers.

With All Saints Day upon us and in no particular order, we look at just a few of our patrons.

St. Hubert

Life • Born, 656; died, 727

Canonized • Pre-congregation*

Patron of • Hunting

Feast Day • Nov. 3

With several hunting seasons ongoing and others upcoming, it’s prime time for hunters to lean on St. Hubert of Liege. Rather than ask for successful hunts, hunters should ask for help in maintaining the beauty of God’s creation, staying safe and pursuing animals ethically and compassionately, then sharing the bounty of harvest. An avid hunter, St. Hubert was deer hunting on Good Friday and observed a crucifix between the horns of a stag, then heard this admonition: “Hubert, unless you turn to the Lord, and lead a holy life, you shall quickly go down to hell.”

St. Luigi Scrosoppi

Life • Born, 1804; died, 1884

Canonized • 2001 by St. Pope John Paul II

Patron of • Soccer

Feast Day • April 3

A late-comer to the game, St. Luigi became a patron saint in 2010, just nine years after being canonized. While St. Sebastian is the patron saint for athletes in general, soccer didn’t have its own patron until an Austrian fan organized a team to research saints for a good fit. They settled on St. Luigi, who in the 1800s ministered to poor children in northern Italy and also exhibited qualities gained by participation in a team sport such as soccer: charity, patience and a joyful spirit of competition. His patronage might prove to be useful as St. Louis pursues a Major League Soccer team.

St. Michael the Archangel

Life • He’s an angel

Canonized • Pre-congregation*

Patron of • Police, soldiers

Feast Day • Sept. 29

A prominent member of God’s heavenly security force, St. Michael the Archangel is the patron to women and men who “serve and protect,” including police and soldiers. In a temporal sense, St. Michael protects us from bad guys who do evil things. In the spiritual sense, St. Michael protects us from evil one, Lucifer, who’s been waging spiritual warfare since St. Michael and the other good guys booted him and his followers out of heaven. The Church has invoked St. Michael’s patronage and protection for 2,000 years.

St. Florian

Life • Born, 250; died, 304

Canonized • Pre-congregation*

Patron of • Firefighters

Feast Day • May 4

There’s no mistaking the importance of St. Florian to the St. Louis Fire Department, which displays a life-size statue of the saint in the lobby of its headquarters. A high-ranking Roman officer, St. Florian was martyred in the early third century for refusing to execute Christians in the Diocletian persecutions and confessing that he himself was a Christian. He was skinned alive, weighted and tossed in the river. He’s renowned among firefighters for reportedly preventing a town’s destruction by fire, drawing on prayer and one bucket of water.

St. Francis de Sales

Life • Born, 1567; died, 1622

Canonized • 1665 by Pope Alexander VII

Patron of • Journalists

Feast Day • Jan. 24

The eldest of 12 children, St. Francis de Sales decided in the late 1500s to forgo a career as a lawyer, against the wishes of his noble family, and instead dedicated his life in service to God. Known for his intelligence and gentleness, he received a law degree and eloquently explained the truth of Catholic doctrine, winning Protestants back to the Church and new converts as well. Through his spiritual direction, he showed that laity of any age or occupation can live saintly lives. He’s a Doctor of the Church; his letters and books survive to this day.

St. Luke the Evangelist

Life • Died, 84

Canonized • Pre-congregation*

Patron of • Doctors

Feast Day • Oct. 18

A Greek by birth and perhaps a slave, St. Luke played a key role in the creation of the Bible, authoring two books in the New Testament: the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. In addition to detailing the life of Jesus Christ and the aftermath of His death and resurrection, St. Luke was referred to by St. Paul as “Luke, the beloved physician.” (Colossians 4:14). Later, St. Jerome, St. Irenaeus and others called him a physician as well, following St. Paul’s lead. The “beloved physician” likely served as doctor on sailing vessels in the Mediterranean.

St. Appolonia

Life • Died, 249

Canonized • Pre-congregation*

Matron of • Dentists

Feast Day • Feb. 9

Martyred midway through the second century, St. Appoloniai of Alexandria, Egypt, succumbed to pagan-induced anti-Christian uprising. Considered a leader among local Christians, she was seized and pummeled, either having her teeth broken in the beating or completely extracted in torture. People who dislike the dentist chair will cringe while reading that. She was threatened with death by burning at the stake if she didn’t renounce her faith.

St. Yves

Life • Born, 1253; died, 1303

Canonized • June 1347 by Pope Clement VI

Patron of • Lawyers

Feast Day • May 18

A lawyer by trade in the late 1200s, St. Yves often worked pro bono, not charging the poor to argue their cases. He also visited them in prison and ministered there before trials. He represented the Church in ecclesiastical cases and reached out-of-court settlements to avoid the time and expense of trials. He was ordained at 31 years old and abandoned the law profession a few years later to focus on his parishes, where he continued serving the poor by building a hospital, treating their illnesses and sharing his harvest.

St. Dymphna

Life • Died, 620

Canonized • Pre-congregation*

Patron of • People with mental illness

Feast Day • May 30

The uniquely named St. Dymphna is the patron saint of psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists, as well as victims of mental illness. Her father, a pagan, became unhinged after his beautiful Christian wife had died and agreed to remarry if he found a suitable replacement; but he only saw his wife’s beauty in his daughter. St. Dymphna fled from their native Ireland to Belgium, where her father tracked her down; upon her refusal to accede to his advances, he beheaded her. Spontaneous recovery from mental illness reportedly happened at the site of her death.

* Administering Divine Worship and the Causes of Saints, the Congregation of Rites was formed by Pope Sixtus V in 1588. St. Pope Paul VI divided the Congregation of Rites in 1969 to form the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Congregation for the Cause of Saints.

Sources: Vatican.va; catholic.org; catholicSaints.info

Communion of Saints

The “communion of saints” is the Church herself. This community includes the saints in Heaven, the holy souls in purgatory and the faithful of Christ “who are pilgrims on earth.”

Saints “do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus…so by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped” (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium).

Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 946-962

Patron saint of hockey?

The closest hockey comes to the Communion of Saints is St. Lidwina, the patron saint of skating. However, the artistry of figure skating and ice dancing don’t translate well to the brutal physicality and pace of hockey.

So, hockey needs a patron, and perhaps Catholic St. Louisans should lead the charge to get one, looking no further than the man who happened to be an avid skier and winter sportsman before taking up residence in Vatican City.

St. John Paul II.

On the papal visit to St. Louis in 1999, he attended the papal youth rally at then-Kiel Center, receiving a No. 1 St. Louis Blues jersey with “John Paul II” on the nameplate and a hockey stick. The photographic evidence of the hockey link is easy to find: type “John Paul hockey” into a search engine under images and those photos pop up.

Although anyone may invoke a saint to intercede as a patron, only a bishop makes it official by consecrating the saint for a particular cause. When Austrian businessman Manfred Pesek proposed St. Luigi Scrosoppi as the patron saint for soccer in 2010, he had the support of his home Bishop Alois Schwarz (then-bishop of Gurk), Bishop Andrea Bruno Mazzocato (of St. Luigi’s home diocese of Udine, Italy) and Pontifical Council for the Laity Church and Sport section.

Does hockey need a patron saint? Well, it wouldn’t hurt and it might help our team on the journey to win it all.

Saints come marching in

The Archdiocese of St. Louis pays homage to the Communion of Saints in the names of parishes, missions, chapels, shrines and oratories — with 138 named in their honor out of 196.

Two parishes specifically reference all of them — All Saints in St. Peters and in University City — and another honors Mary as Queen of All Saints in Oakville. That leaves 135 honoring saints: 124 specifically named after one saint (including both of our basilicas — Basilica of St. Louis, King of France and Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis); five named after two saints; four referencing saints’ common titles — Curé of Ars (Saint John Vianney), Little Flower (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux), Holy Martyrs of Japan (23 men and three boys executed by crucifixion in 1597, at Nagasaki) and Seven Holy Founders (monks who founded the “Order of Friar Servants of St. Mary”). Holy Family includes St. Joseph among the trio, and St. Teresa of Kolkata was still Blessed Teresa of Calcutta when that namesake parish was formed in Ferguson in 2005.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is honored in 37 (including Queen of All Saints and Holy Family), with the remaining 20 honoring Jesus Christ, God, the Father and Holy Spirit.

>>Cause for Sainthood for Clelia Merloni

The foundress of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart, Venerable Clelia Merloni, will officially become Blessed Clelia Merloni in a beatification to be celebrated Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. The miracle necessary for beatification occurred in 1951, when a Brazilian doctor was cured of a potentially fatal progressive nerve disease after his family and an attending religious sister asked for Mother Clelia’s intercession. Mother Clelia was born in 1861, founded the apostles in 1894 and died in 1930. The cause for her sainthood began was opened in 1988. Pope Francis approved the miracle on Jan. 27. In the archdiocese, the Apostles sponsor Cor Jesu Academy and Sacred Heart Villa on The Hill. They also minister in four parishes: St. Joseph of Imperial, St. Ambrose, Seven Holy Founders and St. Alban Roe.

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