Ancient Rome had basically two types of characters: plebeians and patricians. The plebeians were the commoners who worked for a living, whereas the patricians were rich and influential. Ok, there were also knights, but that's beside the point.
The Romans invented a system called the patron system, wherein powerful patricians would gather a number of common working-class people around them to form an adopted clan. These powerful patricians were called patrons and their adopted clans were made up of individuals called clients.
These clients agreed to support their patron in all his ventures, political, business, or military. The patron agreed to execute his influence to help the clients if the need arose. The patron would grant loans, defend the clients in court, and keep them out of harm's way in general. In return, the clients would carry out tasks for their masters, voting for him in elections, protecting him for crowd-control in public, etc.
The History Of Patron Saints
Christianity's early period coincided with the end of the Roman Empire. Due to this overlap, Christians could make use of the patron system finding spiritual applications for it in support of their developing faith. In Patron System v.2.0 (the Jesus remix), patrons were renamed as saints, while clients turned into believers.
For hundreds of years, faithful believers would pray to their former patrons, now saints, begging them to use their divine powers for their benefit. Think of practical things. One believer would ask St. Salvius to use his heavenly privilege to see if God could do something about Aunt Annie's agoraphobia. If the saint heard the prayer Aunt Annie got better and Salvius ended up as the believer's patron saint, as well as their aunt's. He could then be invoked for any further requests.
By the beginning of the Middle Ages, the Church had rolled out v.2.1 for the saint system. Particular saints were assigned particular tasks and causes that could be anything to which the saint appeared to have a connection. Particular requests were taken to saints responsible for patronizing the activity in question. If you were about to go hunting to round up some pheasants for lunch, you would usually take your case to St. Eustace, patron saint of hunters.
Luckily for you, there seemed to be an unending supply of holier-than-thou characters like Eustace, more than happy to help our alcoholics, arms dealers, bakers, gamblers, seekers of knowledge, and so on.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Alcoholics
St. Monica's husband was an adulterous, ill-tempered, violent drunk before he converted. Their son was also infamous for living a life of debauchery before he converted.
St. Monica became the patron saint of alcoholics.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Arms Dealers
St. Adrian was an Imperial Guard for the Roman Emperor. Before he converted his task was to interrogate and torture Christians. But once he converted he proved less effective at his job, so they amputated his arms on an anvil before they amputated his head.
St. Adrian became a martyr and also the patron saint for butchers and arms dealers.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Bakers
St. Elizabeth of Hungary baked bread for poor people in secrecy. She would hide the bread in a pouch as she delivered it to the needy. At one time, when Elizabeth opened the pouch, she noticed that the bread she had baked turned into flowers. This was considered a miracle, but not a very effective one to help the poor.
St. Elizabeth turned into the patron saint of bakers.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Blood Banks
The body of the martyr St. Gennaro is housed as a relic at the Cathedral of Naples. They also sport a vial of his blood. When this vial of dried blood is brought close enough to the body of the saint, it allegedly liqueﬁes and bubbles.
No wonder that St. Gennaro is considered to be the patron saint of blood banks.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Bowel Disorders
St. Bonaventure, a 13th-century Franciscan cardinal died a sudden death having experienced intense pains in the stomach during a church council. The cause could be anything from food poisoning to a ruptured internal organ.
Whatever it was, it made St. Bonaventure the dream candidate for the patronage of bowel disorders and other gastrointestinal difficulties.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Business People
St. Homobonus was a very successful trader in 12th-century Italy. He was a virtuous man well-known for his integrity in all of his ventures, also, he was very religious. In spite of this, he firmly believed that God meant for him to stay outside religious circles and use his business success to help the poor.
St. Homobonus became the patron saint of business people.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Contagious Diseases
St. Rocco's passion consisted in caring for victims of plague and contagious diseases. Not surprisingly he ended up catching the plague himself. What is miraculous, though, is the fact that he fully recovered, which was attributed to his virtuousness and faith in God.
St. Rocco is the patron saint of contagious diseases.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Gamblers
When St. Camillus's addiction to gambling got him out of all his possessions he decided to make it his duty to care for the sick. He converted to Christianity and never gambled again. Guess what!
St. Camillus is today the patron saint of gamblers.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Geese
When St. Martin was about to be appointed as bishop, he didn't feel up to the task. He ran away and hid himself among a ﬂock of geese. He was out of luck, though, because the geese had a feeling that the saint was up to no good. They kept honking until he was discovered.
St. Martin is proud to be the patron saint of geese.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of The Internet
St. Isidore was a 6th-century bishop who had a passion for learning. He regarded a broad, open-minded education above all else. His 20-volume compendium of universal knowledge is called Etymologiae, and it is the ﬁrst encyclopedia known to us in the Middle Ages.
If the Internet as the largest compendium of universal knowledge has a patron saint, it is most certainly St. Isidore.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Oversleeping
St. Vitus met his tragic end when he was thrown into boiling oil for crimes of sorcery and heresy. He was accompanied by a rooster, because it was generally believed that a sacriﬁcial rooster can undo wicked sorcery. This connection to a rooster contributed to St. Vitus's association with early rising, which in turn earned him a patronage of people who sleep in.
St. Vitus became the patron saint of oversleeping.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Politicians
St. Thomas held the position of chancellor in 16th-century England whose decapitation was ordered by King Henry VIII, because he didn't agree on Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon. This pissed the king off, because he was angling to get involved with Anne Boleyn.
Hence St. Tomas's patronage of politicians, the people who don't seem to be able to keep their noses out of other people’s business.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Serial Killers
St. Caedwalla was a Saxon king who waged war on other kings in order to seize control of their kingdoms. After several bloody campaigns, Caedwalla changed his mind and went on a pilgrimage in hopes of forgiveness for his sins. He even got baptized, but it was all too late as he dies soon afterwards.
This little story of his life technically makes Caedwalla the patron saint of remorseful serial killers going through death-bed conversions.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Sexual Temptation
St. Angela was a writer who was married to a rich trader and had an illicit affair. In 1285 she wrote her famous tirades about her frustration over the fact that she was going to hell due to her unfaithfulness. She had a great idea, converted to Christianity, became a nun and founded a Franciscan religious order.
St. Angela also became the patron saint of sexual temptation.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Teenagers
St. Maria Goretti was an attempted rape victim at the age of 18. The assailant was her neighbor to whom she told that she would rather die than submit to him. The villain stabbed her in the throat. She died from the wound, but before that happened she publicly forgave him.
St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of teenagers.
Ξ The Patron Saint Of Television
St. Clare once came down with a sickness that rendered her incapable of attending mass. Later she reported that she was able to watch and hear it displayed in high-def on the walls of her chamber.
St. Clare is the patron saint of television.
Rev. Akins from Tucson, AZ on March 21, 2014:
I liked several of those. Great Hub and great way to look at the different patron saints. Enjoyed it!
manatita44 from london on March 20, 2014:
Funny as well as sad and quite informative. Cool
charlie from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans on January 06, 2013:
except that it is all catholic foolishness. according to scripture a saint is anyone who is a born again believer in Jesus Christ. He and he alone can help us and he and he alone is to be worshiped.
can i safely assume you also have a patron saint of foolishness?
John Roberts from South Yorkshire, England on December 14, 2011:
Nice Hub, but I find the "Patron Saint of Television" a bit unconvincing. Still, you deserve credit for much research.
Haunty (author) from Hungary on October 30, 2011:
Thanks for stopping in and reading guys.
drbj and sherry from south Florida on October 30, 2011:
Fascinating, Haunty, voted up. Isn't it remarkable that we still have the patron system in the U.S. today alive and functioning? The patrons are community organizers (like our putative leader) and the clients are the uninformed voters.
From your description of St. Claire, I would add that she also appears to be the patron saint of schizophrenics.
Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on October 29, 2011:
Cool pictures. Rated up. My patron saint is Saint Julian of Norwich.
iriscarter on October 29, 2011:
I didn't know that before. Interesting. Thanks for the share.
Haunty (author) from Hungary on October 29, 2011:
Hi :) I have lots of patron saints, so if you want to know something I might have the info. :)
Sondra from Neverland on October 29, 2011:
Excellent research Haunty! I knew the term patron saint but never bothered to see how it originated. I'm going to look into this more and find other patron saints for me :) thanks!