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File:PatronSaint 3497.jpg
"Holy Hannah!" shouted Captain America in Secret Defenders #6. Who, you ask? Why, "Holy Hannah" is better known as St. Hannah of the Funnybooks, patron saint to Golden Age superheroes (As opposed to "Holy #%&* !", patron saint of '90s super heroes.)
Marvel Year In Review 1993

Some of us are believed to be closer to the divine than others. In Catholicism and Orthodoxy, these special people are called "saints" and they can be called upon to intercede and/or create miracles on our behalf.

The process of being named a saint is canonization, a long and complicated process. [1] For more information, just look up the relevant keyword(s) on The Other Wiki.

Note that Catholics and Orthodox vehemently deny offering "worship" (latria) to the saints; what the saints receive is doulia or "honor" -- or, in the case of the Queen of the Saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary, hyperdoulia or "extreme honor." One does not pray to the saints, but rather asks them to pray for you.

In fiction, some of the most commonly referenced Saints are:

  • The aforementioned Virgin Mary, who is astonishingly active in her post-Biblical activities, according to pious legend. She is, among other things, patroness of the United States (the US being hostile to Catholics until one became President, the American Church must have figured that they needed the biggest guns they could find). She is also the patroness of Mexico. Known by a myriad of titles -- you can find an "Our Lady of" just about anything.
  • Saint Agnes, patron saint of girls
  • Saint Anthony (of Padua -- there are others), patron saint of people looking for things lost
  • Saint Barbara, patron saint of those in dangerous occupations (including Russian rocketeers).
  • Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers, and a medal of whom is usually featured in a car, is often the butt of car-related jokes.
  • Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the enviroment
  • Saint George, the dragon-slayer, patron saint of England, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Catalonia, Georgia, and...screw it, let's just say half of Europe; a ridiculous number of cities; armored units; and the Boy Scouts.
  • Saint Joan of Arc, co-patron saint of France (Saint Denis is the original patron) and archetypal Action Girl, the Jeanne D Archetype.
  • Saint Jude, the patron saint of Lost Causes. And police officers.
  • Saint Michael the Archangel, highly regarded for being a Knight in Shining Armour and general of God's army. Patron saint of police officers.
  • Saint Nicholas, a.k.a. Santa Claus (a lot of Multilingual Memetic Mutation was involved), patron saint of children; also patron of thieves.
  • Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. As there are no snakes native to Ireland, this is taken to be symbolic of driving out the pagan influences (that, or he was very, very thorough).
  • Saint Peter, portrayed as standing at the Pearly Gates of heaven and acting as God's bouncer, as it were. Famously crucified upside-down (which is why if you wear an upside-down cross to be "Satanic," you are doing it wrong [2]). Patron of the Papacy, as he also has the distinction of being the first Pope.
  • ...and other saints with unusual patronage. There can be a lot of overlap in patronage, particularly in issues that cause people to pray a lot.
Examples of Patron Saint include:


Anime

  • Saint Francis Xavier tends to be referenced once in a while in anime, because he went to Japan to evangelize the heathens and generally speaking piss off Tokugawa Ieyasu. There's an alleged descendant of his who appears in Samurai Champloo, for example. Xavi in the Sengoku Basara games is also based on Xavier.
  • Saint Francis (and Jesuit monks in particular) are posited as the origin of the Kappa myth in the author's notes of Hell Teacher Nube.


Art

  • Patron saints were common subjects for artists throughout The Middle Ages and The Renaissance (as in the page image of the "Wilton Diptych," which shows SS. Edmund the Martyr, Edward the Confessor, and John the Baptist patronizing King Richard II of England). Often non-contemporaneous saints are shown associating in sacra conversazione, each identified by holding or standing near his or her own special emblem, often the method of his or her martyrdom -- e.g., St. Catherine holding her wheel or St. Bartholomew holding his own flayed skin.
    • This tradition is continued in the (mostly Roman Catholic) phenomena of holy medals and holy cards and in the (mostly Eastern Orthodox) phenomenon of icons.


Comic Books

  • In Hellboy: The Nature of the Beast, St. Leonard the Hermit and his slaying of the St. Leonard Worm are alluded to to when the eponymous Hellboy fights a similar creature, and just like in the legends, Hellboy's blood also causes flowers to spring up from the earth. Later, in Box Full of Evil, St. Dunstan is mentioned, and his image used, in connection with a demon he had defeated and imprisoned centuries earlier.
  • The Saint of Killers from the comic Preacher (Comic Book)


Film

  • The Saint references some of the things necessary for a person to be considered a saint (a few steps were left out, either as a result of Did Not Do the Research or Rule of Drama), and the titular Saint manages at least the "three miracles" part.
  • This Is Spinal Tap: David St. Hubbins' surname is derived from the patron saint of quality footwear.
    • That would actually be Ss. Crispin and Crispian.
  • There are loads of saints in Millions, because the protagonist is a bit obsessed with them.
  • The martyrdom of St. Sebastian is symbolic in Lilies. Sebastian's role as a gay icon (see Real Life) is relevant here.
  • A St. Christopher statue in a car turned into a plot point in Crash.
  • In the Hellboy film, a statue of St. Dionysius was used as a prison for the monster Sammael, and later a finger bone of St. Jude is used to ward off the same monster.


Literature

  • Nicholas van Rijn (A.D. 2376 to c. 2500) is a fictional character who plays the central role in the first half of Poul Anderson's Technic History. He swears by Saint Dismas (the Good Thief, appropriately), and has expressed the intention of burning candles in offering (to which another character responded "The Saint had best get it in writing").
  • Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers is about a Canadian historian researching Blessed Catherine Tekakwitha, "the Lily of the Mohawks"
  • Several stories are based on the fictional patron saint of engineers, St. Vidicon, who martyred himself to ensure a key speech by the Pope would make it to air. He is invoked to defend against Finagle.
  • St. Sebastian's connection to gay men led Yukio Mishima, in his autobiographical novel Confessions of a Mask, to write a lengthy "awakening" moment in front of a picture of the saint.
  • A heavily fictionalized St. George is the hero of the first book of The Faerie Queene.
  • The English fairy tale of "The Seven Champions of Christendom" depicts the patron saints of seven prominent Christian nations as knights errant: St. George (England), St. Denis (France), St. Patrick (Ireland), St. Anthony [of Padua] (Italy), St. Andrew (Scotland), St. James [the Greater] (Spain), and St. David (Wales).
  • The founder of the monastery in A Canticle for Leibowitz becomes the patron saint of electricians once civilization gets back to that point. There is also a reference to Saint Raul the Cyclopean, patron of mutants.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Space Cadet, when persuading the hero that an apparent accident was a real one and not a put on job to scare the candidates, someone asks him whether he has ever heard of St. Barbara, explains that she is the patron of those in dangerous occupations, and tells him that if he goes to the chapel dedicated to her, he will find that the priest is saying Mass for those who died in the accident. This convinces him.
  • In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye, a statue of St. Barbara aboard a spaceship has carefully constructed fans so the candles will continue to burn right in freefall.
  • In Cell, by Stephen King, Denise successfully helps Clay find a necessary item by invoking St. Anthony's help. Clay himself borrows this idea at the ending.
  • In John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos, Boggins informs Amelia, "I, for example, am employed directly by Saint Dymphna's School and College for Destitute Children." Which is to say, after the saint of the insane and emotionally disturbed.
  • In Mary Stewart's This Rough Magic, St. Spiridon, the patron saint of Corfu (where the story takes place), is invoked by several characters and features in Sir Julian's theory of the origins of the story of The Tempest.
  • In Jim Butcher's Dresden Files story "Aftermath", Murphy prays to St. Jude before her attack.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, Logistilla's home is on the island of St. Dismas.
  • The Speaker for the Dead branch of Orson Scott Card's Enderverse includes the Order of the Children of the Mind of Christ (married but chaste monks who run schools on most Catholic colonies), founded by St. Angelo of Moctezuma (who in traditional Church logic would therefore be the Order's patron saint), an eccentric monk whose death Andrew had spoken 2000 years before the events of Speaker for the Dead.
  • St. Expeditus, a cult saint not recognized by the Church, is referenced in the Father Koesler mystery, Death Wears a Red Hat, wherein he is noted both as the patron saint of avoiding procrastination and hurrying decisions and also in his role in Santeria of being used in rituals to dispatch foes.


Live Action TV

  • Saint Nicholas' other patronage (that of thieves--more accurately, repentant thieves) is mentioned in Leverage, where Sophie tells Parker (who is only aware of the Santa Claus version) that St. Nick is also the patron saint of thieves.
    • Nathan is also handed a Brigid medal in one episode.
  • Joan of Arcadia is a Whole-Plot Reference to Joan of Arc.
  • Like Joan of Arcadia, Wonderfalls was inspired by Joan of Arc's story.
  • House snarks at one of his patients when he spots a Saint Nicholas (I believe) medallion, whose patronage also includes prostitutes. She snarks right back that he's also the patron saint of the wrongfully accused.
  • In Life On Mars, Sam Tyler (who may or not be a time traveler) wears a St. Christopher medal.
    • And appropriately enough, Gene Hunt (the copper to end all coppers) wears a St. Michael medal.
  • The Myth Busters consider MacGyver their patron saint.
    • Alton Brown regarded MacGyver as his patron saint first, in a 2001 episode of Good Eats, "Where There's Smoke, There's Fish." (he constructed a fish smoker out of a cardboard box...go figure.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has the villains celebrate the Night of St. Vigeous, the patron saint of vampires. Since vampires are basically Always Chaotic Evil, one has to wonder why the church approved of that one.
  • During an episode of Thirty Rock, Jack is having a fight with his devoutly Catholic girlfriend Elisa (played by Selma Hayek) while in a church.

 Elisa: How dare you say such things in front of the statue of Santa Lucia, the patron saint of judgemental statues!


Poetry

  • John Keats's "The Eve of St. Agnes" is based on the superstition that girls could foresee their husbands on St. Agnes's Eve.

Radio

  • A Prairie Home Companion: at Lake Wobegon, the annual blessing of the animals on St. Francis's feast is a trial for the priest, who is allergic to animals.
    • Not to mention the Catholic church in Lake Wobegon is named Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility.


Tabletop Games

  • In Hell On Earth, the Templars have their own pantheon of Patron Saints (that includes, among others, St. John Wayne and St. Eliot Ness).
  • A supplement for Shadowrun mentioned how religion mixed with all the magic wandering around, especially shamanic stuff. The main shamanic influence is Native American, but that doesn't leave the Christians out. Shamans even have them available as variations of totems.
  • The Imperial Cult, which is really just Catholicism IN SPACE! has numerous saints, one of the more famous being Saint Sabbat.
  • Indiana Jones is often referred to as the patron saint of player characters. "I don't know, I'm making this up as I go!"
  • In Dungeons and Dragons Book of Exalted Deeds sainthood was something a character could earn in game. By the standards of Bo EE, its ridiculously hard to earn in game (easier if you're starting high level and can write the requirements into your backstory.)


Video Games

  • Darklands has the saints, and their areas of expertise, as the foundation of their magic system based on prayer.
  • In Famous: In the Good Ending to Infamous 2, Cole is revered as one by the citizens of New Marais


Web Comics


Other

  • For our own Wiki, there is a Patron Saint of Television, Saint Clare of Assisi, and Saint Isidore, Patron Saint of the Internet.
    • Also, "X show is the patron saint of this trope", to the delight of some and the despair of others.
    • A patron saint of our Wiki would be probably named Saint-Tropez.
    • We ourselves have designated Godzilla as the Patron Saint of Collateral Damage.
  • The patron saint of speedy delivery, prayed to by people in a hurry for something, is the possibly apocryphal Saint Expeditus. The story goes, he was a Roman soldier that was considering converting to Christianity; the Devil appeared to him as a crow and suggested he put it off until tomorrow, and Expeditus stomped the shit out of the crow and converted then and there. However, all of this may be completely fictional (as opposed to partially); some say that he was created when a crate of saints' relics showed up at a nunnery with no label except "Expeditus", as in "expedited delivery"; the nuns, not being familiar with the Medeival post office traditions, thought it was the saint's name. Nobody's sure if any of that is true, but St. Expeditus has a big following in Voodoo.
  • Another fun saint is Santo Muerte--Saint Death. He's a syncresis of Catholic traditions and local indigenous religions of Mexico, and his cult is increasingly popular amongst the lower classes.
  • And then there's the completely apocryphal Saint Josephat, an Indian prince that was shocked from his high-end life the first time he saw a poor beggar; he became an ascetic but found it unrewarding, and finally converted to Christianity. Replace "converted to Christianity" with "achieved enlightenment" and you get the story of Siddartha Guatama--the Buddha. The story had gradually made its way from India to Europe, where the word 'boddhisattva' was gradually morphed into 'Josephat'.
  • Things that never happened have occasionally been said to take place on Saint Tib's Day or the Feast of Saint Nunca.
  • Saint Grobian is a fictional patron of vulgar language.


Real Life

  • Saint Jude's Children Research Hospital, who treats and hopes to find cures for things like cancer. Other common patrons for hospitals are Saint Luke (who according to St. Paul (Colossians IV, xiv.) was a physician) and Saint Mary under her title of "The Immaculate Conception" is also the Patron Saint of the United States.
  • Saint Barbara is the patron saint of Heavy Artillery and Artillerymen.
  • Emperor Norton is the only real-life person considered to be a Discordian saint.
  • St. Philip Neri is patron of the US Special Forces.
  • Lots of cities are named after saints: St. Paul, San Francisco, etc.
    • Saint Paul is interesting in that he gets two fairly-important cities named after him: the capital of Minnesota, and São Paulo (aka the largest city in the Western Hemisphere).
  • There are patron saints for, among others, Fireworks (St. Barbara) and Translators (St. Jerome).
  • St. Sebastian, Patron Saint of snipers (well, archers) and plague victims. Also unofficial (for obvious reasons) patron of the gay community, as he is one of the few saints generally depicted in the (nearly) nude (unless, of course, one suspects an obscure "penetration" pun).
  • St. Mark is the Patron Saint of Venice, and the Venetian Battle Cry is "Vive San Marco".
    • St. George is the Patron Saint of England, and the English Battle Cry is "Saint George for Merry England!"
    • St. Dionysus (Dennis, Denis) is the Patron Saint of France, and the French Battle Cry is « Montjoie Saint Denis ! » ("Mountjoy" is a word of uncertain origin.)
    • St. James (the Greater) is the Patron Saint of Spain, and the Spanish Battle Cry is --¡Santiago, y cierra España!-- ("Saint James, and close with them, Spain!")
      • St. James the Greater is also the second Patron Saint of the United States, although nobody ever mentions it.
  • St. Thomas More was made the Patron Saint of lawyers and statesmen. If The West Wing is ever remade and the President is still Catholic, there should be an icon of More in the Oval Office, don't you think?
  • Bartholomew the Apostle, who - among other things - presides over mental and neurological disorders. There's got to be someone of that name with a mental disorder...right?
  • There is a traditional grouping of saints invoked together as protectors against certain ills, the "Fourteen Holy Helpers" often honored together in one church or shrine: St. Agathius, St. Barbara, St. Blaise (on whose feast day Catholics used to have their throats blessed against disease), St. Catherine of Alexandria (she of the wheel, which was commemorated in the Catherine-wheel firework), St. Christopher, St. Cyriacus, St. Denis of France, St. Erasmus, St. Eustace, St. George, St. Giles, St. Margaret of Antioch (who was swallowed by a devil in the form of a dragon, made the sign of the Cross, burst out of its stomach, and became patroness of childbirth), St. Pantaleon, and St. Vitus (he of the dance, i.e., the disease choreia). Their most famous shrine, the Basilika Vierzehnheiligen near Bamberg (Bavaria, Germany), is a very well-known work of Baroque architecture by the famous Balthasar Neumann.
  • One theory of the origin of the nautical legend of Davy Jones' Locker is that Davy Jones is actually a bowlderized version of Saint David of Wales, whom Welsh sailors would beseech for aid in times of danger. In this interpretation, Davy Jones is not punishing, but helping sailors, by keeping their souls safe in his Locker.

Notes

  1. Note that canonization does not make one a saint, as only God can do that. Canonization is merely the process by which the Church recognizes that a person has become a saint, and saints may exist who have not been canonized.
  2. An upside-down crucifix, on the other hand, since it actually displays Jesus Christ, is still very much is a sacreligious symbol though, so be careful with this one.
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