Get Your Patron Saint for 2011 – UPDATED

Regular readers know that around this time each year I have been fortunate enough to have someone “pull a patron saint” – someone who will be a specific teacher and friend for the coming twelve months. My patron for 2010–you can see his picture in the sidebar–has been the great St. Philip Neri, of whom I knew nothing beyond the fact that he was famous for his sense of humor.

I did some research on him, bought a book and found that there was much more to this “Apostle of Rome” than his cheerfulness. Each day in my prayers, as I finished up my intercessions, I would always add, “St. Philip, teach me what you know.”

I am a poor student, but Philip and I became very fond friends, and I think he really did help me to learn quite a lot about taking God seriously, but not the self, and about surrender. I credit him with bringing about, somehow, the September trip to Rome that hadn’t even been on my radar, in June, and where we seemed to encounter churches and still-functioning hospitals established by this holy man, all over the place.

A particularly warm memory of Rome came on our first night, when we lumbered into Santa Maria in Vallicella, which is commonly known as Chiesa Nuova. Despite the beauty of our surroundings, I was focused entirely on getting to the side chapel wherein Neri’s incorruptible remains are entombed.

Chapel & Tomb of St. Philip Neri, Chiesa Nuova, Rome

Once there, surrounded by a few young men and pilgrims, I quietly wept in exhausted gratitude, thinking, “I am not sure how or why, but here I am!” A few minutes later, two vested Italian priests entered and mass began–an intimate, quiet mass–it was such a sweet gift!

This year, it has been difficult to find someone to “pull a patron” for me, and I was beginning to despair that this lovely tradition, which has been a true benefit to my spiritual life, might have to come to an end.

Thank God, then for Conversion Diary’s excellent Jennifer Fulwiler, who–aside from being a newly-expecting, homeschooling mom and a prolific writer–is also enough of a geek to develop (on her own) this nifty Patron Saint Generator.

Go check it out. I uttered a little prayer before hitting the button, and was delighted to find that my Patroness for 2011 (and my first female since I picked up this tradition) is St. Catherine of Siena!

“If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire”
– St. Catherine of Siena

For the past few years I have felt alternately nagged at and cajoled by this great Dominican Tertiary and reformer–this humbly-born, Christ-haunted and God-educated, pope-and-monarch-instructing, unforgettable fire of a woman–who “[wielded] power, influence and wisdom to which Hillary Clinton can only aspire.”

Born in 1347, just one year before the plague would devastate Siena, Catherine’s was an era of stark extremes: the scholarly poet Petrarch beside the romantic Boccaccio, Tuscan beauty marred by violence, corruption, and the plague. The duality manifested itself in a church being wrestled over by two popes, and in Catherine herself: an uneducated woman of prolific letters; a pragmatist and profound mystic; a lunatic who communicates with lucidity; a woman too tidy to wear a hair shirt but indifferent to the steel chain wrapped around her torso and biting into her skin.

I look forward to humbly submitting myself to the tutelage of this wonder-inspiring Doctor of the Church, throughout 2011.

Catherine, at Basilica Santa Sabina, Rome

In a way, this feels almost like a continuation of my time with Neri, and in particular that very wonderful evening in Rome; hours before the mass in the Chapel of St. Philip Neri, my husband and I had visited the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena, which resides at the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, mere blocks from Chiesa Nuova.

There I had asked St. Catherine to pray for my many Dominican friends, and for others who had asked for specific remembrances to her, and then I had said, “St. Catherine, teach me what you know…”

It is a brazen–even presumptuous–request to make, of course. But I figure myself to be very ignorant, so I need to be bold in seeking out good teachers who will remind me, again and again, that I am not in charge of anything but my own surrender.

The tradition of “patron pulling” is that one does not choose the saint; the saint chooses you for the year. This almost feels like the good Apostle of Rome has handed me off to the fascinating Catherine with a rueful shake of the head: “If I’ve overcoddled this hopeless creature, let’s bring in some tough love…”

It reminds me of that scene in Kill Bill, Vol. 2, where Bill hands his student Beatrix Kiddo off to the master, Pai Mei, warning her not to “throw any American sass” his way.

No sass. I will be good.

Do give Jennifer’s Patron Saint Generator a look-see. If you decide to take a patron, let us know which one chose you!

UPDATE: A great story!

Incredible Catherine of Siena
A Word from St. Catherine of Siena
St. Catherine and Manly Men
St. Catherine’s Sons and Daughters
St. Catherine and Me
Basilica Santa Sabina

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • amandaintennessee

    Wow! The Saint Generator pulled out one of the “big guns” for me this year! St. Benedict! As a practicing Methodist, this is the 3rd year I have followed your advice and have been enriched by each one. I look forward to a year of getting to know my patron saint and am thrilled to have him interceding for me.

  • AnnF

    St. Bridgid. Perfect for this Irish girl, though I would have been just as happy with someone more obscure. Thanks, Anchoress!

  • Maureen

    Re: St. Eugene de Mazenod, there’s a biography page about him at the Vatican. He sounds like a real go-getter.

  • Old Buckeye

    Thanks, Anchoress! You know I was stressing about not having a patron for the year (as was a dear friend who has also depended on a patron). I am going to let St. Albert the Great teach me in 2011.

  • Janet

    For 2010 I had ST. Kathrine Drexal. I believe she encouraged me to become a Eucharist Minister at my parish. This years draw gave me St. Maximilian Kolbe. I think he will teach me to be more humble and giving of myself. That is what I ask of him.

  • sojourner

    Thanks, Joan H – you’ve given me a new perspective on it. I like that way of looking at it.

    I’ll pray for you and your family, for peace and wisdom during this challenging time. If you think about it, please pray for me and my family.

  • ZMalfoy

    Oh, thanks for this! I was chosen by St. Peter the Apostle. My first reaction was: Uh-oh! Feeling like I’d been called before the dean for disciplinary matters or something. Still, I feel slightly honored that such a busy guy (keys to the kingdom and such) is going to take some time to help me out.

    I’m interested to learn that he’s the patron of foot problems– ever since I started bellydance ~8 months ago, I’ve had real trouble with callouses and breaking skin on the bottom of my feet. Maybe he’ll get some help for that? (Also, does this mean pedicures are a meditational practice this year? ;p ) He’s also the patron of a host of practical things, which as I just bought and moved into my first house. . .maybe he’ll be helping me Get My House In Order on all levels? Hmmm, very interesting!

    Thank you again! I think Mr. The Rock and I will get on quite well this year! ^___^

  • Susan Kehoe

    St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Odd. But I will give him a try.

    [He's very powerful. He was my son's patron this year. -admin]

  • SWP

    St. Benedict chose me.

    Considering my love of the Holy Father, this makes sense to me.

  • Deborah Gyapong

    St. Francis Xavier chose me. I know little about him but I look forward to discovering more.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog!


  • Pingback: Patron Saint for 2011 «

  • John

    I got St. Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz. I had never heard of him. I’ve never done this before and was of the mind to pick my own to start off. I thought of doing Thomas More as a young father and lawyer. Something feels off about this saint calling me through that button- at least the first time I try this patron thing. Torn now….

    [My experience is, stick with the first pull; if you go looking for a "good" saint that you feel comfortable with, you're sort of negating the whole thing -admin]

  • Mary Elizabeth

    I was chosen by St. Francis of Assisi which is wonderful in many ways. I was born on Oct. 4 and that is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Since my birth was scheduled ahead of time, and my parents knew I’d be born on Oct. 4th, had I been born a boy, Francis is the name I would have had. I also find it interesting that St. Francis is the Patron Saint of Needle workers (among many other things) and I do alot of needlework. I look forward to having him as my special Saint as I go into the New Year. I thank the person on a blog site for sending me here to participate in this wonderful tradition.

  • the cottage child

    St. Mary of Egypt chose me…this will indeed be a year of penitence, no doubt that’s a match, and her complete turn from her sins, though mine are a different sort than hers, is exactly the sort of inspiration I could use just about now.

    I love that her life in the desert married the wild and deeply meaningful. It’s written that her burial was attended and assisted by a lion, and while I have no idea what that means, how can I not be intrigued? I’m anxious to learn from her.

  • Polliwog

    I was widowed six months ago at the age of 36 and got St Bridget of Sweden, the patron saint of widows. She also seems to come from a long line of devout and prayerful women and passed on her faith to her children, which I consider one of my most important tasks.

  • Pingback: You KNOW You’re in TROUBLE when…. « Temple of Mut

  • Martha

    So last year someone asked me would I be interested in becoming a Carmelite Tertiary, and I turned them down politely.

    I try the saint generator. First choice? 13th century Patriarch of Jerusalem and patron of the Carmelite Order who wrote the Rule for a community of hermits living on Mount Carmel.

    Second choice? 18th century female Carmelite.

    Am I sensing a theme here? ;-)

  • Catherine

    I was named after St. Catherine of Siena, so I’m tickled about that.

    I’ve been selected by St. Edwin of Northumbria, for reasons that were not instantly clear to me. However, having read the biography at the link, I believe I understand, that I’m being called to reconvert, if you will, after a period of absence from full communion with the Church. His patronage seems directed towards people that I would not normally associate with, as various descriptions of homeless appear, so I will pray for the courage and strength to do God’s will if/when I am called.

  • poohbear

    Saint Ivo of Kermartin chose me.

    As I read his patronage, several professions in the legal field, I thought this was silly, but the last one listed is orphan. I am an orphan, and that fact often depresses me and I struggle with it, so this is a great pick for me (hoping I’m not going to need any lawyers in 2011!)

    As others have said, this is scary, but in a good way!

  • A. Noël

    I’m so grateful to have this wonderful way to resume the saint-of-the-year practice!

    And then I was picked by … St. Padre Pio.


    I became acquainted with St. Pio when I was a brand-new Catholic, and have had a fondness for him ever since. However, he quite intimidates me. When I would read about him giving a sharp reminder or rebuke to someone, I’d think: that would surely be me! So I’ve been nodding courteously to him in passing, so to speak, but not getting close enough to hear what I KNOW he’d say to me in my situation.

    Guess those days are over, now!

  • Mary

    St. Catherine of Siena here, too.

  • Nmissi

    St. Zita of Lucca chose me. This is the first time I’ve ever tried this, but I think we’ll deal well together. She’s patroness of lost keys, and I’m forever losing mine. And she looks out for domestic workers; I’m a caterer. I just read that people honor her feast day by baking bread; maybe she’ll help me with mine. (My results are terribly inconsistent.) Here’s hoping I don’t let her down this year.

  • Iris Celeste

    I got St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer and it just hit me like a 2 by 4. I have been trying to follow the instructions & directions of the Lay Apostleship but I kept thinking that he didn’t mean me in this past message. I also picked for family members and people I love and the Saints were all perfect choices. I intend to pray to these saints to help them without mentioning it to the people.

    Iris Celeste

  • Iris Celeste

    Did the link wrong, lets try again, Lay Apostleship Dec 1 message

    Iris Celeste

  • Donna

    I have already gotten a saint for next year the old-fashioned way – there’s a jar with slips of paper where I go to Mass, and St. Paul picked me.

    Did anybody else have a RL pick rather than an online one ?

  • Joseph

    “My experience is, stick with the first pull; if you go looking for a “good” saint that you feel comfortable with, you’re sort of negating the whole thing.”

    It never occurred to me to try it again, for the reason that you stated. I will wait to discover the reason why I was paired with St. Margaret of Hungary. BTW, thanks for the link, and please pass it along to that site’s webmaster.

  • Paula

    It has been so much fun to read about everyone else’s Saints for the year! What a wonderful idea!
    I am a relatively new Catholic so when I was picked by St. Bernadette, I couldn’t remember what it was that she was known for. Then my husband reminded me…”Our Lady of Lourdes!” duh!

    We live in a rural community accessible only by ferry and we only have 3 Catholic Churches to serve a very large area. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that Our Lady of Lourdes is one of them!
    Now, OLOL isn’t MY parish, it is actually a native parish but we go there several times a year, and in fact, I had intended to go there for Our Lady’s Mass on January 1. I went there last year for my first ever funeral.
    OLOL also has the only grotto around. It is on native land and is usually very peaceful and beautiful.
    Bernadette is considered a mystic, something that I am very interested in and feel connected to. I shall take this oppotunity to learn more!

    Now Bernadette is the patron of illness, sick people and poverty….things I’m afraid that I am not eager to embrace…she is also the patron of people who are ridiculed for their piety. Hmmmm. That’s something that I can really work on. Well, we shall see as the year unfolds, shan’t we?
    I should add that 2009 was declared “The Year of Bernadette” and that of course is the year I became Catholic.
    My four year old daughter was chosen by St. Monica who is the patron of alcholics, which both her dad and I are…recovering of course.

    I SO love the way God works in our lives. He is a hundred thousand light years beyond cool.

  • poohbear

    Here is another for the ‘things that make you go hmmmmmm’ file.
    After picking my own patron, I decided to pick one for work. This past year has been filled with sickness, family tradegies and deaths among most of my coworkers’ families. It has been a very sad year.
    My coworkers and I were chosen by Saint Rene Goupil, one of the North American martyres. He was also a physician and is patron of those who work with or receive anasthesia.
    We are not doctors, but we do work in the medical field, and so many of either coworkers or their families have had surgery this year.
    All in all, a very appropriate choice.

  • Christine the Soccer Mom

    I got St. Charles Borromeo, patron against abdominal pain and intestinal disorders (among other things). This is hysterical to me, since I’ve struggled with those things on and off for most of my life. I wrote a bit about it once, when I spent a few days in the hospital just before Christmas.


    So God can use anything to reach us, huh? I believe St. Charles and I will become fast friends, and in any case, our family will add our saints family to our new Wall of Communion of Saints that we started recently.

  • Mother

    I tried this earlier just to test the generator and i cant remember what saints i was given

    I prayed and repeated the exercise on news year eve . I got ST. Jude Thaddeus – my lost cause is NFP !!! St . Jude – pray for us

    I also prayed abt my job and tried again – i got st augustine . WOW !!!!

  • Terri M

    I pulled St Paul Miki. I remember reading his story aloud at morning prayer at church years ago, my voice breaking. today I found some of his words before he died, including, “Ask Christ to help you become happy.” bingo. I’ve been asking Gretchen Rubin for the past year. so here goes. thanks!

    [We always forget that we really can ask for that - the grace to be happy. We find then, that happiness didn't involve the "things" we thought they would. And we're happy about that. -admin]

  • Pingback: The Anchoress | A First Things Blog

  • LaCoff

    I thought it odd, disappointing even, that I got St. Hilary of Poitiers whose patronage is against snake bite?!? Then I remembered that it is my job to take care of any snakes that show up around here. So, that may work out for me when the weather warms up and slithery things show up with it.

    His bio is interesting. He was exiled for opposing the heretical teachings of the Arians. He used the adversity of exile to write and preach against the heresies. He must have done a good job since I never heard of these Arians until today. Turning adversity to good is something we can all use; snakes or no snakes.

  • regina

    I went for it and was chosen by St. Christopher. At first my heart sunk, is he still a saint? Turns out he is, and an early one, just not enough is known about his life other than he was a martyr. But…interesting thing, I’m a HUGE worrier and everything he is listed as helping I worry about(i.e. travel, sudden death, bad dreams etc.). So I think that The Christ-Carrier as he is called, will help carry me over that torrent of worries in my life. Thanks Anchoress!

  • dianemadeline

    St. Bridget of Sweden chose me yesterday, and I was a little alarmed since I am not a widow. (I’ve been w/ my boyfriend for 12 years.) When I picked again, St. Thomas found me and I saw a pretty obvious link. But today I thought I wasn’t being fair and spent some time reading more closely about St. Bridget.

    The text the generator linked to says she can be considered the Patroness of Failures because while she set many things in motion, she did not see her goals realized. I can totally relate to that. So, I’m going to be more thoughtful and open to the idea and see what I learn.

  • Toirdhealbheach Beucail

    I have never done this before. I went ahead a did it and pulled St. Thomas Aquinas, guardian of Academics; Against Storms; Apologists; Book Sellers; Catholic Schools; Chastity; Learning; Philosophers; Publishers; Students; Universities. Although not Catholic, Aquinas is one of the few Catholic Saints I have more than a nodding acquaintance with; The fact that I am really trying to write better towards being an author; his association with book sellers and publishers was sort of eerie.

  • Kate

    St. Helena, a patroness of converts (of which I am one), my late mother’s baptismal name saint. The finder of the True Cross–she undertook a Major Project, at an advanced age, and as I have an academic project in mind for the coming year, one that I have been putting off for ten years, I hope she will help me to persevere.

  • JaneDC

    I also used the Saint Generator and was selected by Blessed Titus Brandsma, WW2 Martyr from The Netherlands. He was a Carmelite, popular confessor (could always use one of them), and outspoken critic of the Nazis. He was also a college professor. I have much to learn!

  • Peg

    St. Bonaventure, the seraphic doctor. From previous studies in medieval history, French, and religious studies I knew that Bonaventure studied and then taught at the University of Paris. It makes sense that Bonaventure would join me for 2011, as I have just returned to graduate school after many years outside academia. It is challenging and scary. I look forward to St. Bona’s aid!

  • Peony Moss

    Our Lady of Guadalupe. No link that’s obvious to me; guess I’ll have to be patient and stay tuned!

  • Jen

    I first learned about Patron Saints of the Year last year reading this blog. I took the plunge this year. I prayed for two things before clicking the button: 1) that the saint would be one to help me with a special personal intention for 2011; and 2) that this year’s saint would intercede in his/her specific way to assist me in the trials and joys that await in the coming year.

    St Charles Borromeo selected me – how wonderful! I’ve admired his homilies, which feature prominently in the Liturgy of the Hours. He often exorted his brother priests and bishops to be mindful shepherds; hence, he is the patron of clergy. I am often (too) severe in my judgment of the leadership we American Catholics are getting from our clergy…I think St Charles will help temper my passion and fervor with charity.

    He is also a patron of catechists (which I am) … and I wonder what lays in store for me with him bound close for this year. Since I don’t have the patronage of a saint with my baptismal name, I took up St Paul as a patron many years ago – inspired by his passionate and straight-shooting letters, no doubt! Well, shortly after he took me under his wing, I became a catechist (unbeknownst to me at the time, he is a patron of catechists), and I have been for the past 12 years. So, we welcome St Chas to our duo for 2011 ;-)

    RE: patrons of bakers…i think St Agnes could be appropriate. There is a tradition of baking loaves of bread on her feast day, and it has to do with one of the tortures she endured on the road to her martydom. Look her up to learn more…

    RE: St Pio – yes, that is a fearsome (in the Biblical sense) saint! In a holy way, he is one we would fear to make disappointed in our Christian witness. Incidentally, i recommend “Pia” as a feminized version of his name for any girl who is looking for a strong patron for Confirmation (or just because).

  • Pingback: Lisa Graas » Making a Sacrifice for My Sister The Anchoress and Opus Dei

  • Mila

    When I was a child in Cuba, the Carmelite church across the street from my house had the custom of passing out holy cards with patron saints for the year. They were turned upside down, so you wouldn’t know who your patron saint would be until you picked the card. I have missed this wonderful tradition for many years, and always wondered how you, Elizabeth, went about it since you always show your patron saint on the margin. So now, having found the patron saint generator, I immediately went ahead, said a prayer and clicked. What a surprise! I have been picked by St. John the Apostle! I’m sure he has lots to teach me, and I’m already counting on his intercession.

  • Pingback: Patron saint for 2011 « Joyful Papist

  • Wendyllyn

    Love this! I ALWAYS promote the saints, and especially the most obscure of them. . .and Blessed Anton Martin Slomsek chose me! I LOVE him already – he was an education reformer – I fancy myself one; a bishop – which I’ll never be; but his patron must be my favorite, St. Anthony of Padua – thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this very enjoyable and uplifting idea – and thanks to my friend Lisa M. for letting me know! God bless. Bl. Anton Martin, pray for us!

  • JoyfulPapist

    I was chosen by St Josephina Bakhita. Ripped from her family in Southern Sudan while only a child, she had a terrible life as a slave. She was brought to Italy where she served as nanny to a child, but found God, and her freedom, and became a nun.

    I believe one of the reasons St Josephina chose me was so that I could urge people to pray for the people of Southern Sudan, who are about to vote in a referendum on independence. Please read their story and pray for them.


  • Brad

    I, a childless convert, was chosen by St. Anne Line, childless convert. I think she wants me to help my priests as I can, after her example.