10. Saint Bernard – Patron Saint of Skiers.
We didn’t know skiers needed their own saint, but apparently they do (especially on Black Diamond runs). St. Bernard was a real-life 11th century monk who dedicated himself to the Christian conversion of Alp-dwelling people still displaying practices of the old pagan ways. He also set up “traveler safe houses” for French and German pilgrims going to Rome over the St. Bernard Pass (a very dangerous pass between Switzerland and Italy). The very large working-dog known as the St. Bernard was named after this saint; the breed was used to find and fetch people in perilous conditions. The pooch would mercifully show up donning a “brandy barrel” around his neck in order to keep the suffering warm while they awaited rescue.
9. Saint Vitus – Patron Saint of Oversleeping.
For all of you sloths out there, not to worry. There is a saint you can invoke to help get your ass out of bed in the morning, and his name is St. Vitus. Vitus was a late 3rd / early 4th century child saint martyred at the age of 13 when being a Christian was punishable by death in the then-pagan Roman Empire. It was his tutor who converted him and his father who turned him in to the authorities. Ouch! An angel freed him from prison, but eventually he was captured and put into a pot of boiling oil. A rooster was thrown into the cauldron with Vitus for good measure (a pagan sacrifice). Because the rooster is the “early riser”, Vitus’s many patronages include oversleeping.
8. Saint Agnes – Patron Saint of Rape.
Ok, we need to get serious for a second. This one is not funny, although the story of how Agnes became the patroness of rape victims is really quite interesting. Born to the Roman aristocracy c. 291, Agnes was not only educated and wealthy, but she was also said to be easy on the eyes and not without her share of male admirers. However, the “chaste” Agnes, a girl of about 13, refused to marry anyone, as she had already given herself over to Christ. One of her rejected suitors turned her into the Roman authorities, essentially “outing” her as a Christian (illegal in the then-pagan Roman Empire), and she was consequently condemned to death. Since it was against Roman law to execute a virgin, Agnes was dragged to a brothel in an attempt to deflower her. According to legend, the Holy Spirit interceded and all sorts of miraculous circumstances prevented her rape (she grew hair all over her body, the men were struck blind before they could attack her, and so forth). So ladies, if you ever see a creepy guy approaching you at night in a dark alleyway, be sure to invoke St. Agnes.
7. Saint Adelaide – Patron Saint of Second Marriages and In-Law Problems.
For all you spouses out there ruing the days your mother-in-law comes for a visit, just invoke St. Adelaide. The 10th century Saint Adelaide of Italy was one of the most prominent women of her time; a medieval celebrity of sorts. Her first marriage was a planned alliance during a time of great political chaos in Italy; however, her husband soon died and his usurper tried to force the young Adelaide (then barely 20) to marry his son. When she refused, she was forced to flee and threw herself at the mercy of Otto the Great of Germany. Otto had other plans. Taking advantage of this precarious situation, he went ahead and conquered Italy for himself and then married Adelaide. Her second marriage was a success, but she had some issues with her daughter-in-law that created a schism between her and her son.
6. Saint Elizabeth – Patron Saint of Difficult Marriages.
According to statistics, the majority of married couples have cause to invoke St. Elizabeth. Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336) was a Spanish princess who was betrothed to King Denis of Portugal at the ripe old age of twelve. A beautiful, kind and devoutly religious woman, the King grew tired of her soon enough and began to cause her great suffering. According to legend, the King was told an untrue rumor about one of his wife’s pages (a low-ranking servant in royal court) and so conspired to kill him. The page stopped for Mass on his way to his (unknown) death. As a result of this delay, the “bad” page (the one who started the rumor in the first place) was mistakenly put to death by furnace in the good page’s place. Are you following us? When the King got wind of this situation, he realized that God had saved the good page (for stopping at Mass) and immediately saw the errors of his ways. This amazing event guided the King into a more pious life, and he and Elizabeth went on to live out their marriage happily.
5. Saint Martin – Patron Saint of Vintners and Alcoholics.
This one just amuses us. The 4th century Saint Martin of Tours is the patron of both Wine-makers and Alcoholics. That’s just priceless. Conflict of interest much?
4. Saint Bridget – Patron Saint of Fallen Women and Bastard Children.
Pious St. Bridget of Ireland (5th/6th century) did not fall off a building or anything. And she certainly remained chaste all of her life. Her patronage is a result of a “House of Corrections” for wayward women which stood next to the famous Well of St. Bridget. Apparently she looked over these recalcitrant ladies and their bastard children. As only an Irish Catholic girl knows how to do.
3. Cædwalla of Wessex – Patron Saint of Serial Killers.
This one is to die for (pun intended). The seventh century King of Wessex (England) was never officially made a saint, but he’s the unofficial patron of serial killers. And we certainly can’t think of a group of people more in need of a saint! Cædwalla was responsible for the killing of several people including a King of South Saxon and almost all the inhabitants on the Isle of Wight. In the end, he abdicated his own throne to go on a pilgrimage to Rome (having apparently given up his penchant to kill). Not surprisingly, ï»¿Cædwalla ï»¿is a name no longer in circulation, but it’s Celtic in origin and means (apropos) "one who leads in battle."
2. Saint Rocco – Patron Saint of Dogs.
Rocco was born to a barren mother who prayed to the Virgin Mary for a child. In fact, it is said that he was born with a birthmark on his chest in the form of a red cross (which apparently grew larger as he grew older). Orphaned at 20, the devout Rocco distributed all of his earthly possessions among the poor and went on a pilgrimage to Rome where he ended up caring for the sick struck down by the Plague as it ravaged throughout Italy. Eventually he contracted the Plague himself, was expelled from the community, and retreated to the forest where a nobleman and his dog tended to the pious saint, keeping him alive by bringing him warmth, food and water. Proving once again that the dog is indeed man’s best friend.
1. Saint Drogo – Patron Saint of Ugly People.
Seriously. Even his name is ugly. St. Drogo was a 12th century French saint with Flemish ancestry. Upon learning at the age of 10 that his mother had died giving birth to him, the guilt-ridden Drogo turned completely to religion. During one of his pilgrimages to Rome, Drogo contracted some unknown disease which left him severely disfigured. The townspeople found him way too repulsive to look at, and a cell was built attached to the church where Drogo could live out his saintly life in complete isolation. Nice town folk, huh? So if you happen to get hit with the ugly stick, you know who to invoke. Just remember, though, “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” (at least that’s what ugly people say).