Not Your Everyday Saints


This is a busy week for Jews and Christians. Passover began at sundown April 18. This is Holy Week for Christians with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday later this week. Easter is Sunday. I have posts planned for Thursday (as usual), Friday (in honor of Good Friday, and Sunday (usual).

I thought something lighter might be welcome for my non-religious friends. Well, it’s not completely non-religious, but amusing nonetheless.


The 2011 tax deadline has come and gone. In honor of all accountants, bookkeepers, tax collectors, auditors, and anyone else affiliated with taxes, I thought we should recognize their patron saint! Yes, Saint Matthew is the patron saint of the aforementioned professions. In the time of the Romans, tax collectors didn’t receive a salary; they were expected to earn a commission, of sorts, by collecting whatever extra they could in the guise of taxes. Most were cheats and widely despised, even more than today. Needless to say, Matthew was not popular and more than one eyebrow was raised when Jesus invited him into the inner circle. Now that the frenzy of tax season is subsiding, maybe Saint Matthew can take a break.

Stamp collectors and postal workers have their own patron saint, Gabriel the Archangel. Now that’s clout! I’m pretty sure archangels rank higher than saints. In the Bible, Gabriel acts as God’s messenger. He is known for bringing information regarding bearing children, and is popularly known for delivering messages starting off with the widely used ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Fear not’. He told Zachariah that he would soon have a son, John the Baptist. Gabriel delivered the news to Mary that she was going to have a son who was going to be the savior. Gabriel makes the perfect patron saint of stamp collectors as well as postal workers, as his holy deeds included getting messages from one place to the next.

Saint Anthony the Abbot’s relationship with pigs, and his patronage of swineherds is a little complicated. At the time, many skin diseases were treated with applications of pork fat, which helped reduced inflammation and itching (my sister, the nurse, will be appalled!).  Anthony’s intervention used this well-known technique and soon he was accompanied by pigs in artwork about him. Late in life Anthony became a close friend of Saint Paul the Hermit. He buried him, leading to his patronage of gravediggers. I guess you do need to be careful of your associations.

I had a hard time deciding on whether to cover the patron saint of cranky children or the patron saint of juvenile delinquents. Since many kids are out of school this week, I thought I’d offer assistance to those parents who will, most likely, be dealing with cranky children.

Saint Sebastian lived in Milan and became a captain of the Praetorian Guard. The leaders, Diocletian and Maximian, however, were unaware that he was a Christian. It is said that Sebastian performed miracles and converted many Romans to Christianity, while keeping his Christianity a secret. He became known as the patron saint of cranky children after helping to reconvert Marcus and Marcellianus, two boys who were arrested and were told to worship the Roman Emperor and make sacrifices to Roman gods. They were given the choice to leave Christianity behind or suffer a death sentence, and St. Sebastian convinced them to stay true their beliefs. I guess we’ll have to take the powers-that-be’s word that Marcus and Marcellianus were cured of their crankiness. Sebastian didn’t fair as well. When he didn’t die from arrows being shot through him, he was ordered to be beaten to death once healed!

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!



2 Replies to “Not Your Everyday Saints”

  1. Pork fat on skin ailments isn’t any worse than leeches on congested reconstruction flaps, or maggots to clean wounds i suppose 🙂 (just so you know i’m reading 🙂

  2. Ick! You are so right! Straight from the middle ages. I’ll never forget helping a patient look for the leeches that were “full” and got lost in his bed. I thought that was above and beyond my chaplain duties 🙂

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