Something the communion of saints teaches us is that there is a place for everyone and everything in Catholicism- catholic does mean “universal”, after all. There are patron saints for absolutely every profession, predicament, situation, and ailment under the sun so that you always have someone special to turn to with your needs. Here are 7 of the strangest patronages.
1. Bicyclists – Our Lady of Ghisallo
In 1905, the first Tour de Lombardy bicycle race passed by the chapel of Our Lady of Ghisallo. Since then, it has become a competition rest stop and a place other bicyclists would visit. In 1940, the pastor of the shrine, Fr. Ermelindo Vigano, who was a cycling fan, opened a small museum filled with cycling artifacts near the shrine. He petitioned Pope Pius XII to name Our Lady of Ghisallo the patroness of bicycles and this was granted in 1949.
2. Candy Makers – St. Macarius the Younger
When he was a young man, St. Macarius had a sweet shop in Alexandria, Egypt where he made and sold candy and pastries. He would often hear his fellow Christians talking about the hermits and monks who left comfortable homes to live in the desert for prayer and penance. St. Macarius eventually closed his shop and traveled to the Red Sea to learn the essentials of monastic life from St. Anthony of the Desert. St. Macarius lived for 40 years in a small hut in the desert eating only vegetables, bread, and water, with a little olive oil on holy days.
3. Epidemics – St. Roch
St. Roch was a pilgrim who came to the Italian city of Piacenza as it was suffering from an outbreak of the bubonic plague. He stayed in the city and cared for all the sick. When he contracted the disease, he removed himself deep into a forest, so as not to infect anyone else. Everyday, a dog brought St. Roch a loaf of bread and, eventually, he recovered.
4. Gas Station Attendants – St. Eligius
St. Eligius was a goldsmith, but in the Middle Ages, all who worked in metal trades took him as their patron. Since blacksmiths make horseshoes, stable hands and everyone involved with horses took St. Eligius as their patron. In the twenty-century, when horse-drawn carriages were replaces by automobiles, St. Eligius was then made the patron of gas station attendants.
5. Lightning – St. Barbara
Right after St. Barbara was beheaded by her father, a flash of lightning struck him down. This has led to St. Barbara being invoked for protection against being struck by lightning.
6. Ice Skaters – St. Lydwina
When she was 15, St. Lydwina and some friends were skating on a river in South Holland when she fell, breaking a rib and hitting her head on the ice hard. The neurological damage she suffered left her paralyzed for the rest of her life. She sank into a deep depression until her parish priest suggested she imitate Our Lord and offer her sufferings for the conversion of sinners. With this priest’s help, St. Lydwina emerged from her depression and attained many virtues.
7. Swans – St. Hugh of Lincoln
When he was appointed bishop of Lincoln, at the bishop’s residence there was a swan that would follow St. Hugh around, eat from his hand, and even sleep in his room. St. Hugh is usually depicted in art with his pet swan.