There are in excess of 10,000 Roman Catholic saints, according to the Britannica website. Delve deeper into that remarkable number, and you can find patron saints for an astonishing range of causes and pursuits. Sanctified patrons exist for everything from chess to murderers and witches to ugly people — as well as for dogs, hangovers, and ice-skating. Read on to learn about 20 of the most offbeat saints out there.
1. St. Barbara
St. Barbara’s legend dates back to the 7th century A.D. It’s a brutal tale that involves filicide: killing your own daughter. Barbara herself apparently lived in about 200 A.D; her father was a pagan called Dioscorus who was so protective of his daughter that he kept under lock and key in a tower. Actually, oppressive might be a better word than protective. Things turned really nasty when Barbara converted to Christianity and refused marriage to boot.
Patron saint of fireworks
Taking some Draconian advice to heart, Dioscorus decided that the only remedy for this unacceptable daughterly defiance was to murder Barbara by beheading her, an atrocity that he duly carried out. But this cruel father was in turn punished by God: a lightning strike killed him outright. St. Barbara became connected with explosive materials such as gunpowder: she’s now seen as the patron saint of fireworks.
2. St. Isidore of Seville
St. Isidore of Seville was born in around 560 A.D. in the Spanish city he’s named for, although it wasn’t until 1598 that his saintly status was formally recognized. When he was about 40, Isidore became the Archbishop of Seville after a prominent role in the church politics of the day. His achievements included helping to bring the Visigoths into the orthodox Catholic faith. But it is his literary work for which he’s best remembered today.
Patron saint of the internet
Isidore authored a work called the Etymologiae which was basically a compendium of knowledge harvested from previous works by Latin writers and other scholars. This highly useful volume was an essential encyclopedia of academic thinking for scholars working in the medieval era. In other words, Isidore had created an early information resource. So his modern role as patron saint of the internet is entirely appropriate.