Artists and musicians formerly had patrons who supported their work both financially and psychologically by encouraging them. As we strive to make our lives “something beautiful for God,” as Mother Teresa said, we have the option of choosing a patron: a heavenly one. If you have been christened with a saint’s name, then your patron is automatic. You have a powerful ally praying for you and ready to help you, albeit an invisible one. Nowadays babies are given names like Apple, LaRhonda, and Phoenix (like my grandnephew). If your name is not a saint’s name, you can pick a saint. In the Creed we say we believe in the Communion of Saints. That means we are bonded with all church members living and dead. So network with someone in heaven. Learn about him or her and then ask them to pray for you for whatever you need.
When I first moved into the house where I work, I was told I could give it a name. I chose St. Catherine of Siena House because she is my baptismal patron saint and one of the few women doctors of the Church. I figured she would be the perfect one to guide my writing of religious books. Later, another Sister moved into house. Her name appropriately was Kathleen, and St. Catherine was her patron too. A large icon of St. Catherine graces our community room. Sadly, it was decided to call the convent the Bluestone House after the street it is on so that workmen can find it more easily. I console myself by thinking that blue is Mary’s color, so in a way she is a patron of the house!
Some people have an extraordinary devotion to a saint. One of my favorites is Brother Andre Bessette, the humble Canadian doorkeeper with healing powers who was almost obsessed with St. Joseph. He dreamed of having a chapel built in St. Joseph’s honor. For this purpose, he gave the boys who were students haircuts for a nickel apiece. Today a the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal is the largest church in Canada and Brother Andre himself was declared a saint. The brother-in-law of one of our Sisters is named Andre because his mother was cured after visiting the saint.
Yesterday I met a man who said that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was his “girlfriend.” He attended Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where that saint lived. He often prayed at her chapel there and credited her with seeing him through his coursework successfully. Recently, while battling cancer for nine months, every day he prayed a prayer to St. Elizabeth for healing. He survived.
One of our Sisters in California had a devotion to guardian angel. Even in her nineties, over her bed she had the picture of an angel guiding two children. She told me that when she was a child, she would hop off the school bus and cross the street. One day as she was ready to go down the stairs of the bus, an arm held her back. But no one was there. Instantly a car zoomed around the bus and down the street. If she had crossed the street as usual, she would have been struck by the car. She believes it was her angel who saved her.
Another Sister named Sister Mary Cupertino loved her namesake, St. Cupertino. (He is a fascinating saint. You might enjoy learning about him.) Each year on his feast day, in his honor Sister set out a table with images and prayers for all to see.
Who is your patron saint? Your favorite saint? Why?