The Story Behind 54 American Cities Named After Catholic Saints


It’s very patriotic and Catholic to think on the great way Catholicism has impacted our country. So I wanted to have a look at the great cities of our country and see just how many are named after Catholic saints or even having to do with Catholicism. These places are all across the U.S. and nearly every state of the Union has a community named after a saint.

The relationship that our country has with our Catholic faith goes deeper than some might think. America and Catholicism are deeply linked. A majority actually comes from our southern neighbors, those french Catholics who populated many southern homesteads, and other Catholics escaping Protestant England and Europe. Another part of that is because of the way that our country was founded, with religious liberty for all. This is one of the greatest guaranteed freedoms that our Founding Fathers enumerated. We have the ability and the right to the freedom of our religion, not just the freedom to worship as we see fit, but to exercise that daily practice of our faith in our everyday lives in public. Wow.

This list is by no means exhaustive or in any order, so if you think of any that can be added, you know what to do in the comments section.


1. St. Augustine, FL 

Founded September 1565 by Florida’s first governor Pedro Menendez de Aviles in honor of the day his ships first landed, St. Augustine’s feast day, August 28th.


2. Ave Maria, FL 

Founded 2005 by the Ave Maria Development Co. & Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza.


3. San Antonio, TX 

Founded officially in 1718, but named in 1691 on the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, June 13th.


4. Saint Louis, MO

Founded 1764 and named in honor of St. Louis IX and the current king at the time, Louis XV of France.


5. St. Paul, MN 

Founded in 1854 and named in honor of Paul the Apostle by Fr. Lucien Galtier.


6. St. Anne, IL

Founded circa 1851 by French Canadian priest Charles Chiniquy who later was excommunicated and subsequently left the Catholic Church to become a protestant minister. He hired Abraham Lincoln to defend him at one point. Named after the mother of our Mother.


7. St. Leon, IN

Founded in 1852 when a post office was established and most likely named after St. Leon Bembo.


8. Sault Ste. Marie, MI (“St. Mary’s Rapids”)

Founded in 1668 and named by French Jesuit Missionaries. It is the oldest settlement in Michigan and third oldest European city in the US west of the Appalachian Mountains.


9. St. Clair, MI

Founded March 28, 1820. Takes it’s name from the St. Clair River which takes it’s name from Lake St. Clair named by French explorers in the 17th century which was named after Clare of Assisi because it was discovered on her feast day in 1679.


10. St. Ignace, MI

Founded in 1671 as a mission by the French explorer and priest, Fr. Jacques Marquette and named after St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. It is the second oldest European settlement in the US west of the Appalachians.


11. St. Joseph, MI

Founded 1829 as Newburyport on the St. Joseph River. Renamed St. Joseph in 1834 when it was incorporated.


12. St. Joseph, MO

Founded in 1843 by Joseph Robidoux and named for St. Joseph. It’s slogan is “Where the Pony Express started and Jesse James ended.”


13. St. Peters, MO

Founded in 1791 and named after a Spanish Jesuit mission previously established in the location of the current town.


14. St. Thomas, MO

Founded in the late 1800s and named after Thomas the Apostle.


15. St. Charles, MO

Founded in 1791 and named after St. Charles Borromeo. Originally called “San Carlos del Misuri” by the Spanish settlers. Had a heavy French population. San Carlos was anglicized to St. Charles in 1812 when it was reorganized as one of the five original counties of Missouri.


16. St. Croix Falls, WI

Founded circa 1793. Popularly thought to have received its name from Fr. Hennepin, a Flemish missionary to the Dakota Indians and one of the first white men to visit the area in 1680. St. Croix means “Holy Cross.”


17. St. Francis, WI

It takes its name from St. Francis Seminary founded by Archbishop John Henni, first archbishop of Milwaukee. The seminary was named after St. Francis de Sales. The current city was formed in 1951.


18. St. Cloud, MN

Founded in 1856 and named after Saint-Cloud, France near Paris. This city was named after St. Clodoald, a 6th century monk.


19. St. Martin, MN

Founded in 1866 and named after St. Martin of Tours, a 4th century bishop of France.


20. St. Stephen, MN

Founded in 1858 and named after the first Christian martyr.


21. St. Ansgar, IA

Founded in 1853. Named after the patron saint of Scandinavia, St. Ansgar, who was a French Benedictine monk responsible for Christianizing much of Denmark, Sweden, and northern Germany between 830 & 850.


22. St. Donatus, IA

Founded in 1846. Named after a historic church within the town, St. Donatus of Muenstereifel. St. Donatus was an early Roman martyr from the second century. His relics were translated to Muenstereifel in the 1600s. Fr. Hennepin was also known to have passed through this area, giving it it’s original name “Tetes des Morts” or “heads of the dead” due to the many skulls littered around the area from an Indian battle.


23. St. John, KS

Founded in 1875 as “Zion Valley” by Mormons, renamed in 1879 after John P. St. John, then governor of Kansas, in order to win the county seat of Stafford County.


24. St. John, ND

Founded in 1882 and took it’s name from a parish in Quebec where a local missionary hailed from. The parish was obviously named after St. John the Apostle.


25. St. Francis, SD

Founded in 1886. Took it’s name from the St. Francis Indian School named after Francis of Assisi.


26. St. Lawrence, SD

Founded in 1881. Named after the St. Lawrence River which was named after St. Lawrence due to its discovery by Jacques Cartier on St. Lawrence’s feast day.


27. St. Edward, NE

Founded in 1871 as Beaver, then Waterville. In 1872, renamed by the St. Edward Land and Emigrant Company of South Bend, IN. It was named after the Rev. Edward Sorin of Notre Dame.


28. San Juan, TX

Founded in 1909. The name comes from the deep devotion the people of the area had for St. John the Baptist.


29. St. Ignatius, MT

Founded originally as a mission by Fr. De Smet and Fr. Hoecken in 1854. It was named after St. Ignatius of Loyola.


30. San Luis, CO

Founded April 9, 1851. It is Colorado’s oldest continuously occupied community. It was named after St. Louis IX.


31. Santa Fe, NM

Founded in 1610. It’s full Spanish name is La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis or in English “The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi.” So Santa Fe is actually named after St. Francis of Assisi and his deep faith.


32. Santa Rosa, NM

Founded in 1865 and changed its named to Santa Rosa in 1890 in honor of a local chapel to Santa Rosa named after St. Rose of Lima.


33. San Luis, AZ

Founded in 1930 and named for the town across the border in Mexico in the state of Sonora, San Luis Rio Colorado. It is named after St. Louis IX.


34. St. Johns, AZ

Founded in 1873. Either named for the first woman resident of the town, Maria San Juan Baca de Padilla, or because of St. John’s feast day.


35. St. Maries, ID

Founded in 1889 and established in 1913. It is named after the St. Maries and St. Joe Rivers in the St. Joe Valley. Named for St. Mary and St. Joseph.


36. St. Anthony, ID

Founded in 1890 and named after St. Anthony Falls, MN which was named after St. Anthony of Padua.


37. St. Joseph, OR

Founded circa 1870s and most likely named after St. Joseph, MO by the founder since he had spent time in western Missouri in Weston.


38. St. Louis, OR

Founded in 1845 by a Jesuit missionary, Fr. Aloysius Verecuysee, when he built a log church in the location for early settlers to worship there. Named in honor of St. Louis IX.


39. St. Paul, OR

Founded in 1838. Named after the St. Paul Mission founded by Archbishop Francois Norbert Blanchet to meet the needs of the Catholic settlers in the area. The mission was named after the apostle, Paul.


40. Los Angeles, CA

Founded September 4, 1781 and named El Pueblo de La Reina de Los Angeles or “The Town of the Queen of the Angels.” Other sources have the name as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles de Porciuncula or “The Town of Our Lady of the Angels of Porciuncula.” Either way, the town is named for our Mother.


41. Sacramento, CA

Founded February 27, 1850. Named after the Sacramento River which was named Santisimo Sacramento or “Most Holy Sacrament” after the Eucharist.


42. San Bernardino, CA

Founded in 1810 by Franciscan Fr. Francisco Dumetz on May 20, the feast of St. Bernard of Siena.


43. San Clemente, CA

Named by Ole Hanson in 1925 after San Clemente Island which was named by Spaniard Vizcaino in 1602 after St. Clement whose feast coincided with his arrival on the island.


44. San Diego, CA

Founded as a fort and mission in 1769. In 1850, San Diego became county seat of San Diego county, California now being a US state. Named after St. Didacus (a.k.a. Diego de San Nicolas) of Alcala.


45. San Francisco, CA

Founded June 29, 1776 as the Mission of San Francisco de Asis. Also known as Mission Dolores since its close proximity to the creek, Our Lady of Sorrows.


46. San Luis Obispo, CA

Founded in 1772 by St. Junipero Serra, a Franciscan monk known for his great missionary work up and down California. San Luis Obispo was named for St. Louis, bishop of Toulouse.


47. San Juan Capistrano, CA

Founded on November 1, 1776 by St. Junipero Serra as a mission to indigenous people. It was named in honor of St. John of Capistrano.


48. St. Albans, VT

Founded August 17, 1763. Named after St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England which was named after the first British saint, Alban who lived in the 3rd or 4th century and was martyred for his faith.


49. St. Marys, PA

Founded on December 8, 1842 by Bavarian Latin-rite Catholics as “Marienstadt” or Mary’s City. It is home to the Straub Brewery and first Benedictine convent in the US.


50. St. Albans, WV

Founded in 1816. First named Philippi, then Colesmouth, then Kanawha City, and finally St. Albans in 1872 after St. Albans, VT. (See above).


51. St. Marys, WV

Founded in 1849 by Alexander Creel. Reportedly, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary while passing by the land on the Ohio River that would eventually become the town.


52. St. Regis Park, KY

Founded in 1953. Most likely named after St. John Francis Regis, a Jesuit priest.


53. St. Florian, AL

Founded in 1872. Fr. Hueser, director of the Homestead Society of Ohio, wanted to establish a Catholic presence in northwest Alabama. He sold acres of land the society had recently purchased to mostly German Catholics at a low price to encourage settlement. It was named after St. Florian, a Roman soldier, who was martyred in the early 4th century.


54. St. Marys, GA

Founded November 20, 1787. Named for our Lady.


55. Holy Cross, AK

Founded circa 1840s as Anilukhtakpak. In the 1880s a mission, Holy Cross, by Fr. Aloysius Robaut was begun in Askhomute, the new name of the town. In 1912, the name changed to Holy Cross after the mission. The school closed in 1956.


56. Saint Paul, AK

Located in the Aleutian Islands, St. Paul is the main city on St. Paul Island. The island was discovered in 1786. Settlements developed thereafter. No natives had actually lived on the island before being relocated by the Russians. Named after the apostle Paul.



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