Sunday, January 8, 2017


I’m a pretty good Catholic. I go to mass every Sunday and on holy days of obligation (well, almost all of the time), I send my kids to Catholic school, and I try to give up something for Lent (emphasis on “try” here.).

One of my favorite parts about being Catholic is the saints. I still remember the Lives of the Saints I had when I was a kid. It was a little, burgundy-colored, faux-leather-bound book with gilt edges. In fact, I even remember some of the illustrations, including this exact one:

That’s St. Roch by the way

I guess what I always liked about the saints is that they were so concrete. Here were real, live people who were trying to live good lives. Not only were they role models, but they almost seemed like friends. 

Part of what made that last bit so effective was that there are so darn many of them (over 10,000, according to There’s bound to be some saint out there that anyone could identify with.

For example, I love the outdoors. So, you can probably guess who my favorite saint is. Yup, St. Francis of Assisi. I also take my role as a father pretty seriously, so another of my favorites is St. Joseph. I’ve also always admired Joseph’s humility and down-to-earth quality, something that also seems apparent in another favorite of mine, St. Peter.

And all that’s not even to mention patron saints. Now, these are the saints who have some particular little niche officially carved out for them. For example, I was really into sports when I was kid. So, St. Sebastian was the saint for me. I’ve been pretty active in Scouting as an adult, so that would be St. George. And I’m a banker by trade, so that’s St. Matthew.

The Calling of St. Matthew
Hendrick Terbrugghen

And here’s where we get into the funny part of this blog … In addition to patron saints for pretty standard things like basic medical conditions (e.g., blindness), or common occupations (nurses, say), and hobbies, countries, cities, and the like, we’ve also got patrons for stuff like:
  • Plumbers
  • Roller skaters
  • Hoboes
  • The Internet
  • Oversleeping 
  • Italian prison guards
  • Salmon
  • Struma
  • Soap boilers
Lydwina of Schiedam

In addition to patronages, there’s also representations. This really just means how saints are typically depicted. This might be something from their life (a bishop’s crozier, say), their martyrdom (St. Sebastian’s arrows), or something more poetical (like an ox for St. Luke). Of course, this also means some pretty weird stuff as well:
  • Young man in an oven
  • Abbess with mice
  • Bishop with an axe in his head
  • Pope with geese surrounding him
  • Man with his limbs chopped off
  • Young priest with a spider
  • Naked young woman hanging by her hair

Gertrude of Nivelles

Finally, each saint of course has a name. Once again, these might be boring things like John, and James, and Anne. But, then again, you might also get:
  • Frodulphus
  • John of the Grating
  • Trudpert of Munstertal 
  • Swithburt the Younger
  • Sabas the Goth of Rome
  • Florian of Lorch
  • Symforian Ducki 
  • Tortgith of Barking
  • Moloc of Mortlach 
  • Vimin of Holywood 
Moloc of Mortlach

Now, one question you might have at this point is whether this blog isn’t a teensy bit sacrilegious. And my answer to that, is “yeah, probably.” If I’m making fun a little here, though, it’s really because I think the saints are fun. What I’m really hoping is that, if I can get someone, Catholic or no, to think about these wonderful, very human, people just a little bit, maybe I’ll have done some good. And it never hurts to have a good laugh.

This blog will look at each week of the calendar, featuring 10 saints whose feast days fall within that week ... and whose names, representations, and/or patronages are just pretty darn strange.


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