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The Strangest Historical Saints

The Strangest Historical Saints

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Throughout history, the Catholic Church has recognized individuals whose extraordinary lives of virtue and faith set them apart as saints. Some of these saints, however, stand out not only for their virtuous deeds but also for the rather peculiar patronages they hold. They serve as celestial advocates for everything from internet users to those with a penchant for beer—a heavenly hotline for the oddly specific needs of the earthly realm.

Take Saint Isidore of Seville, for example, a scholarly fellow who took it upon himself to write an encyclopedia of all known knowledge. Centuries later, he’s now considered the go-to guy for Internet users and tech professionals, an ancient librarian turned patron saint of the digital age.

Then there’s Saint Drogo, who is said to be the saint for those whom society deems unattractive and for coffee lovers. His life conveys a caffeinated message: even if you’re not the belle of the ball, you might just be the patron of the pour-over.

Their stories, steeped in faith, miracles, and sometimes a dash of the unusual, entwine with the daily lives of those seeking a saintly intercessor for their peculiar situations. Saints with curious domains serve as a reminder that in the tapestry of religious history, there are threads of humor and whimsy woven in between the solemnity and devotion.

Animal-Loving Saints

In the annals of sainthood, a few holy figures stand out for their endearing affection for our furry and feathered friends. These saints didn’t just swear off beastly behavior; they were all about befriending the beasts!

St. Francis of Assisi: Patron Saint of Animals

St. Francis of Assisi didn’t just chat with birds; he practically invented the animal whisperer gig.

With a resume boasting events like convincing a wolf to chill out and stop eating the locals, Francis is the go-to saint for animal lovers.

His love for all creatures was so immense that it became his hallmark—talk about being pigeonholed for your passion!

St. Roch: The Dog’s Best Friend

Next up, St. Roch—a man who knew a thing or two about loyalty. When he was struck by the plague, it wasn’t a fellow human who stuck by his side, but a trusty canine companion who brought him food.

Dogs licking wounds usually don’t count as medical aid, but Roch’s loyal pup also licked his sores, miraculously healing them. Good boy!

St. Gertrude of Nivelles: Cat Lady of the Middle Ages

Last but not least, St. Gertrude of Nivelles, who must have been feline pretty holy to become the patron saint of cats.

But she didn’t just stop at hoarding cats; she extended her hospitality to travelers and was known for her generosity. Saints often led hermit lives, but Gertrude’s clowder of cats suggests her abode was anything but quiet!

Miraculous Feats

In the annals of hagiography, certain saints stand out for their extraordinary acts that defy explanation. They didn’t just walk the walk; they sometimes levitated over it.

St. Joseph of Cupertino: The Flying Friar

He wasn’t just light on his feet; St. Joseph of Cupertino apparently had a frequent flier pass given by divine forces.

He’s reputed to have levitated during prayer, earning the nickname “The Flying Friar.” This gravity-defying talent is said to have been witnessed more than once during his masses and ecstatic prayers.

St. Simeon Stylites: The Original Pillar-Man

If you think standing in line for hours is taxing, meet St. Simeon Stylites. He took standing to a whole new level—literally—by perching on a pillar for 37 years.

Known as the patriarch of pillar hermits, he achieved sainthood standing tall on his lofty pedestal, seeking spiritual elevation in a most vertical manner.

St. Christina the Astonishing: Levitating Lass of Liège

Known for her death-defying leaps into ovens and over rivers, St. Christina the Astonishing made a habit of hovering high in church rafters, much to the amazement of many a bewildered onlooker.

She claimed her aerial escapades were to avoid the stench of human sin. It seems levitation was her preferred method of rising above.

Foodie Saints and Their Miracles

They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, and these saints must have had some divine insight into that proverb.

From heavenly pastries to saintly stouts, these historical figures cooked their way into sainthood and captured the devotion of food lovers everywhere.

St. Honore: Patron of Bakers and Pastry Chefs

The esteemed St. Honore is the go-to heavenly patron for anyone who has ever scorched an éclair or under-kneaded dough.

Legend has it that a single prayer could turn a doughy disaster into a flaky masterpiece worthy of the highest praise at the local French pâtisserie.

  • Miracles to Crumbs: Accounts tell of St. Honore making sure his bakers’ breads were miraculously perfect every time.

St. Brigid of Kildare: The Ale Making Matriarch

St. Brigid not only turned water into beer but probably had the divine ability to never over-hop an ale.

They say her brews were so smooth, not a single medieval monk after a sip ever wrote a bad word in the margins of their manuscripts.

  • Holy Hops: She could supposedly produce an unlimited supply of ale from one barrel — the party trick every medieval feast needed.

St. Lawrence: Grillmaster and Patron of Cooks

Good ol’ St. Lawrence took barbecue to an otherworldly level. He famously quipped to his executioners to turn him over as he was done on one side—a clear signal he knew his way around a grill.

Chefs and cooks pray to him when in danger of burning more than just the onions.

  • Divine Barbecue Tips: Seekers of culinary worth look to St. Lawrence for guidance to achieve perfectly seared steaks and impeccably grilled vegetables.

Fashion-Forward Holy Figures

In the world of sanctified fashion, there were those who didn’t just wear their halos, they accessorized with divine distinctiveness.

Here are a couple of holy rollers who took “Sunday best” to a whole new level.

St. Wilgefortis: Bearded Lady of Piety

St. Wilgefortis has an iconography that’s a cut above the rest. Often depicted with a full beard, she is the fashion-forward woman who broke all the medieval beauty standards.

Discontented with the prospect of a forced marriage, she prayed to remain unmarried, emerged bearded, and her desired suitor recoiled.

Ladies, gents, and everyone in between, going bearded might just be the divine sign of independence if Wilgefortis is your style icon.

St. Expeditus: The Saint with a Sense for Urgency

This saint dresses like he means business. With a cross marked “Hodie” (Latin for “Today”) in one hand and a palm branch in the other, St. Expeditus is the go-getter of the heavenly realm.

His attire? A Roman centurion’s outfit that says, “I’m ready to conquer procrastination and your heart.” If you yearn to transform your snail-mail habits into the stuff of legends, he’s your punctual patron in shining armor.

Saints with Quirky Penances

In the annals of sanctity, some holy figures stand out not just for their virtue, but for the odd and often humorous ways they pursued their pious callings.

St. Symeon the Holy Fool: Eccentric for Christ

St. Symeon turned the streets of Emesa into his stage, feigning madness to challenge societal norms.

He’d drag a dead dog behind him, yet somehow, through these bizarre acts, provoked reflections on vanity and hypocrisy. His penance was performance art with a divine message: salvation can come in the strangest of wrappings.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga: The Aristocrat Who Died for the Plague-Stricken

St. Aloysius, a nobleman with a heart too big for his high-collared garments, traded silks for sickness.

In caring for the victims of a deadly plague, he displayed a flair for the dramatic not in his penance but in his compassion. He caught the very infection he was fighting against, making the ultimate sacrifice for those he sought to heal.

Patronages That Will Make You Go ‘Huh?’

When the saints go marching in, some of them are championing causes that may cause raised eyebrows or a chuckle.

From advocating for the unattractive to interceding for improbable career paths, these patronages stand out in the annals of ecclesiastical history.

St. Drogo: Patron Saint of Ugly People

In a divine jest at human vanity, St. Drogo has been dubbed the patron saint of ugly people.

Born in the 12th century, his physical appearance purportedly became so alarmingly uncomely, due to a disfiguring illness, that he literally scared parishioners away.

Yet, his isolation lent him a special connection to those lacking in conventional beauty.

St. Julian the Hospitaller: The Patron of Murderers

St. Julian the Hospitaller’s path to sainthood was a dark one; he accidentally killed his parents, mistaking them for an enemy.

His newfound sanctity brings hope to the morally marooned, standing in as the patron saint of murderers and a reminder that redemption can come from the most unfortunate acts.

St. Polycarp: Patron Saint of Dysentery

It’s no coincidence that St. Polycarp’s name invokes the image of a fish caught in a net, for his realm of influence is ensnaring… dysentery.

This patron saint of dysentery brings pious reinforcement against gastrointestinal strife, offering solace to the afflicted with a hearty, “Gut luck!”

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