Saints to call on in a Pandemic
By Larry Peterson
The Catholic Church has patron saints for many causes. There are so many they even had to be alphabetized. Under the letter A, there are 23 named saints such as St. Agatha, the Patroness of bakers and nurses, .and the great Augustine of Hippo, the patron saint of printers and brewmasters. Under G, there is St. George, who is responsible for fifteen patronages, including butchers, shepherds, and Boy Scouts.
You get the idea; we Catholics have a lot of patron saints, and almost every facet of life experience seems to be covered. If it looks impossible, we can always turn to St.Jude, the Patron of Impossible. We even have some saints that protect us against pandemics. Since Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind, here are a few saints we can strike up a conversation with if we might need some help with coping with Coronavirus.
Let us start with the Four Holy Marshalls. Of the four, we are only including two; St. Quirinus of Neuss, the patron saint. for fighting Smallpox and St. Anthony the Great, the patron saint for combatting the Plague.
- Quirinus of Neuss –Patron Saint of Bubonic Plague and Smallpox
Quirinus was born in the first century and died in the year 116 A.D. Legend has it that he was a Roman tribune and was ordered to execute Alexander, Eventius, and Theodolus. These men had been arrested on orders of the emperor. Their crime: being Christian. But Quirinus witnessed miracles performed by the three men and was baptized into the faith along with his daughter, Balbina. He and Balbina were decapitated for being Christian and buried in the catacomb on the Via Appia.
We move ahead 1500 years and documents from Cologne, dated 1485, say Quirius’s body was donated in 1050 by Pope Leo IX to his sister, the abbess of Neuss. Soon after, Charles the Bold of Burgundy laid siege to Neuss with his army spreading from western Germany, the Netherlands, and as far south as Italy. The citizens of Neuss invoked Quirinus for help, and the siege ended. Wellsprings popped up and were dedicated to him. He was then called on to fight against Bubonic Plague and Smallpox.
This saying by farmers is associated with Quirinus’s feast day of March 30. It reads, “As St. Quirinus Day goes, so will the summer.”
- Anthony the Great—Patron of Infectious Diseases
One of the greatest saints of the early Church. Anthony was one of the first monks and is considered the founder and father of organized Christian Monasticism. He organized disciples into a community and these communities eventually spread throughout Egypt. Anthony is known as Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, and Anthony of Thebes. He is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on January 17.
St. Anthony the Great is also the Patron to fight infectious diseases. We might all call on him now since Coronavirus is just that, an infectious disease.
- Edwin the Martyr ( St. Edmund)—Patron of Pandemics
Edmund is the acknowledged Patron St. of Pandemics. Much is written about this saint from the 9th century who died in 869. Interestingly, hardly anything is known about him. Yet. there are churches all over England dedicated to him. Edmund cannot be placed within any ruling dynasty yet the Danes murdered him when they conquered his army in 869. Edmund the Martyr, in addition to being the patron saint of pandemics is also the patron of torture victims and protection from the plague.
We might mention a few more saints who are patrons of familiar illnesses and afflictions:
- Damien of Molokai—Patron Saint of those with Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease)
- Dymphna—The 15 year old Irish girl whi is patroness of emotiona disorders.
- The Fourteen Holy Helpers—epidemics, Bubonic Plague aka the Black Death
- St. Matthias Patron saint of alcoholics and those with smallpox
- Tryphon Patron to aid us in fighting off bed bugs, rodents, and locusts.
The list seems endless so if you ever need a patron saint for anything, here is a link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_patron_saints_by_occupation_and_activity
There most likely is some saint waiting just for your call.