St. Joseph and baby Jesus. St. Jospeh is the patron saint against doubt and hesitation.

Youth can turn to patron saints for help

By  Erin Morawetz, The Catholic Register
  • May 16, 2012

Praying to patron saints can be particularly helpful to young people of faith, guiding them through difficult situations, said Fr. Francois Mifsud, chaplain at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College.

Patron saints are offered to Christians as role models, associated with issues that matter to individuals, said Mifsud.

“When you read the Gospel, some people say it’s too hard, it’s too much for me,” Mifsud said. “(Patron saints show that) for young people… being a Christian is possible, even though it is challenging.”

Christian McConnell, assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Michael’s College, said patron saints are also a test of the Catholic imagination.

“It’s a colourful thing that someone came up with somewhere along the way because something in the saint’s story makes them think of whatever it is they’re a patron saint of,” McConnell said.

“Sometimes (the connection) is obvious, like how Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of students, and he’s one of the greatest scholars in the Church’s history,” McConnell said. “Other times it’s just a little tidbit (of their story).

“It’s the kind of thing that lends colour to the saint’s tradition.”

Patron saints are a relatively new tradition, though Mifsud argues that the concept of admiring the qualities of different saints is ancient. 

“(Saints) show you that being Christian is being human,” Mifsud said.

There are numerous patron saints for virtually every struggle or life situation, including many that can have a direct impact on students and youth. Here are a few patron saints worth keeping in mind.


St. Thomas Aquinas: Patron saint of students
St. Thomas Aquinas studied under Benedictine monks and then at the University of Naples where he began to read Aristotle. Against his family’s will, he joined the Dominicans and later went to Paris and Cologne to study with Albert the Great. He taught theology at the University of Paris and contributed much writing to the field of theology and modern philosophy.

St. Thomas is the patron saint of students and scholars for he continued to be a scholar throughout his life and never stopped trying to learn.


St. Rose of Lima: Patron saint against vanity
St. Rose, a South American saint, was an intensely beautiful woman whose family was proud of her beauty. But Rose was not interested in the admiration of onlookers for she had given her life to Jesus. So she did things to take away from her beauty: she cut her long hair, she wore a crown of thorns that pierced her head and she rubbed pepper on her face until it was red and blistered.

She also refused her parents’ wish for her to marry and instead spent much time in solitude.

The patron saint against vanity, Rose teaches that it is not important to be caught up in the way you look, but rather the person you are.


St. Elizabeth of Portugal: Patron saint against jealousy
At the age of 12, St. Elizabeth was married to King Denis of Portugal, who was not faithful to her. But Elizabeth did not give into jealousy about her husband’s actions.  Rather, she acted as a peacemaker between her husband and her son, Alfonso, and worked to help the poor against her husband’s will. In the famous story of Elizabeth’s miracle, she turned bread that she was sneaking out to the poor into roses when questioned by her husband.

As the patron saint against jealousy, Elizabeth’s story can inspire people to rise above negativity and to put their energy towards helping others.


St. Joseph: Patron saint against doubt and hesitation

St. Joseph was faced in his life with circumstances that were very hard to believe, prompting him to be named the patron saint against doubt and hesitation. “Because of the nature of (Mary’s pregnancy), there’s the question of what does he do about it,” McConnell said. “The doubt he goes through… he’s not sure what to do (before he has his dream).”

Joseph’s story reminds us to believe in our loved ones and in ourselves, despite the doubts and insecurities that may get in our way.

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