As Catholics, we pray for the intercession of the saints and angels in Heaven, so that they may pray for us on our behalf. Saints can be venerated as the Heavenly advocate and special intercessor for a wide variety of patronages. Here are seven of the most bizarre and unusual Catholic patron saints that you probably don’t know about.
“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” – Revelation 5:8
Saint Barbara, patron saint of fireworks
Saint Barbara was the daughter of a rich pagan named Dioscorus, who had Barbara locked up to “protect” her from the outside world. When Dioscorus discovered she had converted to Catholicism, he beheaded his daughter at his own hand. On his way home from the execution, Dioscorus was struck with lightning and killed.
At first, Saint Barbara was invoked during thunderstorms, then against accidental deaths in general. When gunpowder was invented creating a dangerously explosive industry where death was common, praying for her intercession became very popular in the business. Thus she became the patron saint of fireworks.
Saint Bibiana, patron saint of hangovers
Following the death of her parents, Saint Bibiana fell into the hands of the wicked woman Rufina under the Christian persecution of Roman emperor Apronianus. Rufina tried to seduce her, but when the saint remained faithful, Apronianus ordered she beaten to death. Bibiana endured 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, herbs grew around her grave that had restorative powers, including the ability to cure hangovers.
Saint Genesius of Rome, patron saint of comedies
Saint Genesius was the leader of a theater troupe in Rome, starring in a series of plays mocking Christianity. Tradition says he was ridiculing a conversion experience on stage one day when he saw a vision of angels bearing a book containing all his sins, and asked to be baptized at that moment on stage. The Roman emperor Diocletian was in attendance, notorious for his persecution of Christians. Diocletian immediately ordered Genesius be tortured, and behead when he refused to renounce his faith.
Saint Christopher, patron saint of bachelors
Saint Christopher vowed to serve “the greatest king there ever was,” and was looking for ways to serve Christ when a hermit suggested he use his size, standing seven and a half feet tall, to help some travelers cross a dangerous river. A child came to him asking for help, and when they crossed the river the child became as heavy as lead and the river swelled. When they reached the shore, the boy revealed Himself as Christ, saying to him before vanishing:
“You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work.”
When he visited the city of Lycia to comfort Christians being martyred, he was brought before the king to renounce his faith. Refusing, the king tried to tempt him by sending two beautiful women to him. Refusing once again, the king had Saint Christopher beheaded.
Saint Ambrose, patron saint of beekeepers
Saint Ambrose was the bishop of Milan and an original Doctor of the Church, a pivotal ecclesiastical figure of the 4th century. Tradition says that as an infant a swarm of bees settled on his face as he rested in his cradle. They flew away without harming him, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father saw this a sign from God of his son’s future eloquence and “honeyed tongue.”
Saint Drogo, patron saint of unattractive people
Saint Drogo was born in the 12th century in Flanders (North Belgium). His mother died during childbirth, and his father died before Drogo reached adulthood. Consumed with guilt that his mother died giving birth to him, he gave away his inheritance and lived the life of a pilgrim. On one of his pilgrimages to Rome, he contracted a disease that left him terrifyingly disfigured. Afterwards, he became a shepherd in Sebourg, France. But because his appearance was so repulsive, the townsfolk built him a small hut next to the local Church where he lived as a Hermit for the remaining 40 years of his life.
Saint Julian The Hospitallier, patron saint of murderers
Saint Julian, according to the Golden Legend, killed both of his parents, who had arrived late and unannounced in his home. He spent the rest of his life doing penance, such as opening an inn for poor and sick travellers.