Whether you're about to get divorced or take up a new hobby, there's a patron saint for pretty much everything. Here are 7 of the strangest...
1. Saint Barbara
Patron saint of: Fireman and people who work with explosives
Her story: The daughter of a rich, over-protective pagan named Dioscorus, Barbara was locked up to ‘protect’ her from the outside world. When her dad discovered that she had secretly become a Christian, he drew his sword out to kill her. Barbara prayed hard and a space opened up in the tower wall, helping her to escape. Dioscorus eventually caught up with her and had her tortured. But each night, Barbara’s wounds would miraculously disappear. Though she couldn’t recover from her father’s next evil act – chopping off her head! Seemingly as punishment for this, Dioscorus was struck by lightening on the way home from the beheading and his body became consumed by flames.
2. Saint Genesius of Rome
Patron saint of: Comedies
His story: The leader of a theatrical troupe in Rome, Genesius starred in a series of plays mocking Christianity. But, as the legend goes, he was ridiculing a conversion experience on stage one day when he saw angels and asked to be baptized in real life. This was a dangerous move as he was performing in front of the Roman emperor Diocletian at the time. The leader immediately ordered for Genesius to be tortured, and when he refused to renounce his faith, the actor was beheaded. These days, as well as being the patron saint of comedians, he represents lawyers, clowns, dancers and torture victims, among others.
3. Saint Apollonia
Patron saint of: Dentists
Her story: A resident of Alexandria, Egypt, Apollonia was part of a group of virgin martyrs who fell victim to a local uprising against the Christians. According to legend, she was tortured and had all of her teeth violently pulled out and/or shattered, which is why she is now the patron saint of dentistry and those suffering from toothache or other dental problems. She is represented in art with pincers in which a tooth is held.
4. Saint Christopher
Patron saint of: Bachelors
His story: Christopher was looking for ways to serve Christ when a hermit suggested that he could put his size (over seven foot) and strength to good use by assisting people as they crossed a dangerous river. After a while, a small child asked for assistance traversing the waters. But Christopher found the little lad incredibly heavy. It wasn’t until they reached the other side that the boy revealed why – he was Christ.
Christopher actually means ‘Christ-bearer’ and he is more commonly known as the patron saint of travellers. His connection with bachelors could be because a king sent him two beautiful women to try and tempt him away from Christianity. Instead of giving in, he managed to convert them to his religion, an act that led to his beheading.
5. Saint Ambrose
Patron saint of: Beekeepers
His story: The bishop of Milan, Aurelius Ambrosisus, became one of the most important ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. As legend goes, as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face as he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father took it as a sign of his future ‘honeyed tongue’ and ability to communicate. Indeed, Saint Ambrose proved to be a very popular leader.
6. Saint Bibiana
Patron saint of: Hangovers
Her story: Following the death of her parents, Bibiana fell into the hands of the wicked lesbian, Rufina, who tried to seduce her using blows as well as persuasion. But the Christian virgin remained faithful, enraging the Governor of Rome, Apronianus, who ordered her to be beaten with lead plummets until death. Bibiana endured this extreme torture with a smile on her face. After her death, her body was thrown to wild animals, yet it remained untouched. It’s said that upon her burial, ‘mysterious and magical’ herbs grew around her grave. These had restorative powers, including presumably, the ability to cure hangovers.
7. Saint Gummarus
Patron saint of: Separated spouses
His story: While serving in the army in Saxony, Gummarus’ nasty wife, a noblewoman, was abusive to their servants. When Gummarus returned to their home in Beligum, he was horrified at his wife’s behaviour and immediately tried to make it up to the people she had mistreated. Understandably, Gummarus and his wife separated and he became a hermit. Among other things, he is also the patron saint of childless couples and hernia sufferers.
Do you know of anymore unusual patron saints? Let us know in the comments below…