During the Middle Ages
, when Catholicism
, the idea that God would protect you extended beyond the church
building (the practice of naming a church after a venerated martyr
went back to the 4th century) to all aspects of life: your family, your house
, your city, your kingdom
, your trade.
Those that had gone before you into heaven
were called upon in prayers to intercede
on your behalf. Saint
s, in particular, were looked to for protection, and so it was that monasteries
s, military units, guild
s, towns, charities, and events each came to adopt an intercessor
The saint designated the protector and guardian of the persons, places, or things under his or her purview:
St. George is the patron saint of Barcelona, St. Dymphna is the patron saint of sleepwalkers, St. Isidore is the patron saint of the internet.
Patron Saints A-G - Patron Saints H-N - Patron Saints O-Z
Saints were chosen sometimes based on an actual connection between the saint and his or her protectee (As her martyrdom included having all her teeth broken, St. Apollonia is the patron saint of toothaches), but they might also be chosen merely for their piety or for a play on words (St. Expeditus, an early martyr, is prayed to for urgent matters). Different locations in Europe might have differing patron saints for the same subject, leading Rome to issue proclamations to sort out the official patrons.
In the nonprofit
world, a nickname
for a donor
) who makes an especially generous contribution
Parkinson, Henry. "Patron Saints." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. 1911. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11562a.htm> (24 October 2002)