Now that summer is here, what are your favorite pastimes? Heavenly aid will be ready to assist you.
Countless sources, from Dictionary of Saints by John Delaney and Butler’s Lives of the Saints to CatholicSaints.info, Wikipedia and elsewhere at the Register, offer inspiring tales of “summertime saints.”
Plan on swimming at the beach or in a pool? Ask St. Adjutor, the patron of swimmers, to be your lifeguard. During the First Crusade, as the Norman knight Lord of Vernon-sur-Seine, he was captured by Muslims and bound with heavy chains. But when he prayed for the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene, she appeared and separated his chains from the wall, and he escaped by swimming away in the sea to friendly territory.
Once home again in France, he became a Benedictine monk, St. Adjutor, who became a miracle worker himself.
He’s also patron of sailors and against drowning, as detailed at Giverny.org, EpicPew.com and elsewhere.
Maybe you’re venturing out to sail on a ship or in a rowboat? Seek the aid of Adjutor, along with that of St. Brendan the Navigator, who sailed to islands and even traveled the Atlantic to evangelize and set monastic cells. Also invoke St. Nicholas of Tolentino. Best known for devotion to souls in purgatory, Nicholas is also patron of sailors and navigators. Once when a sinking ship’s passengers prayed for his help, Nicholas appeared in the sky and with his right hand subdued the storm.
St. Michael the Archangel’s many patronages include help against storms at sea — or even on a small lake or river.
Don’t forget to call on Our Lady, Star of the Sea, either.
Staying on dry land, maybe driving to a park or a shrine or cathedral, or to a socially distanced get-together?
Automobile drivers have several saints waiting to guide them at the wheel. One is 15th-century St. Frances of Rome. In the infancy of the auto industry, in 1925, Pope Pius XI named her the patron saint of automobile drivers even though she didn’t even have a driver’s license. The reason? When she traveled, an angel lit the road with a lantern to guide the way — like the headlights on a car.
Driving necessities can also be entrusted to Elijah the Prophet. After all, he hopped into a “chariot of fire” powered by “horses of fire” and sped “by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11).
Another patron of automobile drivers is St. Christopher, whose name means “Christ-bearer.” Because he is said to have carried the Christ Child safely across a river, he’s also patron of travelers.
Maybe you plan to dust off the old bicycle for a tour around the neighborhood or along your town’s bike trail. If so, turn to the patroness of bicycle riders and bicyclists: our Blessed Mother under the title Madonna del Ghisallo. Near Italy’s Lake Como is a hill of the same name. A traveling count named Ghisallo escaped from robbers to safety when he ran to an image, or apparition, of the Blessed Mother at a shrine on this hill. Afterward, the hill was known as La Madonna del Ghisallo, and travelers came to ask for her patronage.
In the 20th century, after the steep hill with a church on top was added to the Tour of Lombardy bicycle race, the local priest asked Venerable Pope Pius XII to name Madonna del Ghisallo the patroness of cyclists, as recounted in CyclingNews.com’s “La Madonna del Ghisallo: The Patron Saint of Cycling.” The Pope did. That’s why we have Our Lady watching over our bicycling with a motherly eye.
What if you’re having a cookout in the backyard? Who else to ask for help but St. Martha, patroness of cooks? She had to make meals over a fire, too, and wanted everything perfect for her, Mary’s and Lazarus’ special guest, Jesus. Later when she went to meet Jesus after Lazarus died, she answered him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.” Martha reminds us that even when we’re busy cooking outdoors or in, we mustn’t forget Jesus.
Maybe Martha was cooking fish. Maybe you will be, too. Whether you caught it on a line or in the supermarket, ask for the aid of the saintly fishermen Sts. Andrew and Peter. Among their patronages, they’re patrons of anglers and fishermen.
Of course, fine weather is always on one’s wish list for outdoor activities. One go-to saint to ask for help with fine weather — and protection against bad weather — is sixth-century St. Medard, a French bishop. His weather patronage comes into play from what happened to him as a youngster. When Medard was caught in the rain, a large eagle hovered over him, protecting him, like a flying heavenly umbrella.
If you happened to get caught in a storm, and maybe lightning too, also ask St. Barbara to help protect you. Such aid is one of her specialties.
Doing some gardening? Then St. Fiacre is the patron for you. He traveled to France, set up a hermitage and asked the bishop for land for a garden to grow vegetables and herbs for healing. The bishop (who became St. Faro of Meaux) told him he could have all the land that he could surround with a trench in one day.
As he dragged his staff or shovel, the land cleared — bushes uprooted, trees fell and the soil was ready for the miraculous start to his garden that later drew many pilgrims because of his great gift of miracles and healing.
If you get to zoom into the wild blue yonder, call upon patrons of the airways.
In the co-pilot’s seat is our Blessed Mother, of course. Under the title of Our Lady of Loreto, she is the official patroness of aviators and fliers.
DivineMysteries.info recounts devotion to Mary by airborne travelers began 17 years after Wilbur and Orville Wright’s flight at Kitty Hawk. In 1920, Pope Benedict XV recognized Mary’s special care as he proclaimed her to be patroness and protectress of airmen and air travelers under the title of Our Lady of Loreto. The choice arose from the traditional, centuries-old belief that angels flew the Holy House of Loreto — the place of the Annunciation, the Incarnation and home of the Holy Family in Nazareth — to its present location.
Mary’s patronage and this miraculous move is commemorated the world over in a medal depicting Our Lady of Loreto on one side and an airplane on the other. Charles Lindbergh even carried this medal on his trans-Atlantic flight.
By tradition a strong member of the celestial crew is St. Joseph of Cupertino, due to his penchant for levitating. This heavenly helper spent his life flying around in places that roughly scribe a semi-circle around Loreto.
The 17th-century friar did so without a plane. He logged more instances of soaring than any other saint who levitated.
In one of a long string of remarkable ecstasies, he was ordered to meet the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See and his wife. But when he entered the church to meet them, he saw Mary Immaculate above the altar and immediately flew a dozen paces over the heads of the ambassador’s adviser to the statue.
Four years later, John Frederick, the duke of Brunswick, saw him rise and float in the air during Mass, with his feet visible above the altar. The nobleman turned from heretic to convert and asked the saint to receive him into the Catholic Church.
During Mass, Joseph of Cupertino would often float and sway. In one basilica, he rose to the vaulted ceiling to kiss a picture of the Blessed Mother.
Friars even saw Joseph fly about 8 feet to kiss a statue of the Infant Jesus above the altar, then soar around his cell with the infant in his arms.
Among dozens of instances of his flight time, Pope Urban VIII saw Joseph of Cupertino up in the air in ecstasy, and Benedict XIV personally studied his case and was fully convinced of its authenticity.
Other saints stand ready to assist, as well.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux is the third patron of flying.
And remember to call upon your guardian angel for protection; after all, flying is second nature to these heavenly friends.
Planning a trip to visit family or friends? Turn to St. Raphael the Archangel, the patron of both safe journeys and happy meetings. Read the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament to see how Raphael conducted the travels and meetings of Tobit’s son Tobiah safely to and from home and how Tobit happily met Sarah, his wife-to-be. (St. Raphael has been a great personal protector for my wife and myself.)
Ask Raphael to anticipate happy meetings with loved ones and other venues you will venture to.
Saving the best for last, always turn to St. Joseph. His all-around patronage includes safe journeys. God the Father entrusted Joseph to conduct several lengthy trips over rough terrain in some unfamiliar places.
He brought Mary safe and healthy to Bethlehem, took her and Jesus on a hasty flight to Egypt that become home for a time, made it a round trip by bringing them home to Nazareth, and guided the family’s yearly excursions to the Temple in Jerusalem. And without doubt — he’s also patron against doubt. Look to Joseph in every instance.
Joseph Pronechen is a
Register staff writer.