Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs – Patronage


Biographies and legends of saints were universally read in the Middle Ages, or handed down by word of mouth by preachers and parents. Soon the characteristic features of a saint’s life, or some detail of his legend, produced the conviction that he would be especially willing and helpful if invoked in similar conditions or circumstances. Thus originated the various “fields of patronage” ascribed to individual saints. In some cases the Church has officially and liturgically acknowledged certain patronages. Most of them, however, are due to popular feeling and inclination.

Thus we have, in popular tradition, heavenly patrons for all individual vocations and occupations (including alchemists, converted criminals, and treasure hunters); for all kinds of groups and organizations (including bowling clubs, skaters, mountain climbers); for justice and law (oath patrons, patrons of prisoners, executions, and executioners, against false accusations, against thieves, murderers, robbers, for just and speedy trials); against sickness and death (hundreds of saints, each one for a special kind of disease or danger); for animals (mostly domestic, but also for deer, hares, birds, fish); for all needs of the farmer (propitious weather, rain, grains, fruit, herbs, vegetables); against all manner of calamity (drowning, shipwreck, fire, floods, earthquakes, hail, storm, traffic accidents).

The above are only a few examples of the many “fields of patronage” cultivated by the faithful for many centuries now, and involving thousands of historical or legendary saints. If practiced in the right spirit, based on the supernatural fact of the “communion of saints,” and without unreasonable or superstitious elements, this devotion to the saints* patronage is a powerful help and a great consolation in temporal and spiritual needs. The fact that some patronages are hased on mere legendary events does not infringe on the spiritual aspect of our petition nor on the saints’ power to intercede for us.

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weiser, SJ. “Patronage”. Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, 1952. CatholicSaints.Info. 15 February 2017. Web. 23 February 2019. <>