Patron Saint of Families

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Patron Saints of Families from Letters from the Saints Blog; Saint Joseph being instructed by an angel as he sleeps

Patron Saint of Families

There is not just one patron saint of families. There are at least three. And, the "top" three of these are covered here. One is a saint that you might expect, but the other two might come as somewhat of a surprise. Learn more about these patron saints.

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Saint Joseph seated and holding the Child Jesus and a lily

St. Joseph

(First Century) Feast Days: March 19th, May 1st

The holy spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the first patron saint of families. And, that should not be too much of a surprise. St. Joseph is the head of the Holy Family--Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. And, he is a model and intercessor for all husbands and fathers.

As the head of the Holy Family, he was called upon to protect, provide for, and lead the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lord Jesus. Given who his wife and son were that might have seemed like a pretty tall order. However, the Lord chose this very Joseph, descendent of King David, to fulfill that role.

Joseph led by his holy example of obedience to God and loving service to Our Lady and Jesus. Of course, Joseph watched over and protected Jesus. For example, when Joseph was told to take the Blessed Mother and Jesus to Egypt, he immediately obeyed and, thus, spared the Child Jesus from the murderous threats of Herod.

Joseph would have led the Holy Family in prayer and passed along his wisdom to Jesus. He will also watch over, teach, and guide our families. We should remember to turn to him as we pray for our families.

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St. Francis of Assisi

(1181 - 1226) Feast Day: October 4th

St. Francis of Assisi is probably one of the best-known saints in the entire world. He captures are imagination as someone who was fully committed to Christ. He gave up everything, embraced poverty, and preached the Gospel with his actions, and, yes, his words. (Despite the popularity of attributing the quote to him, there is no actual evidence that the St. Francis ever said or wrote, "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words." And more importantly, he was not one to shy away from using his words to preach the Gospel.)

Although, St. Francis is often connected with animals and the environment, he should be thought of as a saint of the Holy Eucharist. He was absolutely captivated by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and he would not tolerate liturgical abuses. Of the few existing letters of his that we have, most are about the Eucharist. And several of these are to priests regarding liturgical abberations that he found problematic.

Why is St. Francis a patron saint of families? It is not entirely clear. However, it might be because he helps us understand the importance of the role of family. His father Peter raised a popular, energetic, and very capable son. Francis was the life of the party and was a magnet for his young peers as a teenager and young man.

However, when the Lord called Francis to give up his dreams of glory through chivalry and warfare, Peter did not support his son. Instead, he became embarrassed by Francis' enthusiasm and devotion. Ultimately, Francis had to renounce his ties to his father in order to pursue his vocation.

Families are to support one another in following God as He calls each member of the family. St. Francis' life reminds us that our families should put the Lord's will first and our own dreams for our family members second.

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Saint Gerard Majella holding a crucifix and in prayer

St. Maximilian Kolbe

(1894 - 1941) Feast Day: August 14th

The famous martyr of Aushwitz, St. Maximilian Kolbe, is the third patron saint of families.

Born Raymond Kolbe, the young Polish boy was a handful for his mother. Once when she was exasperated with him, she asked him what would become of him. Raymond took the question seriously and asked in prayer at his parish church. The Blessed Mother appeared to him and offered him two crowns--one for purity and one for martyrdom. Raymond was not one to do things by halves and asked for both. Our Lady indicated that he would indeed receive both crowns.

The gift of purity came as Raymond entered the Franciscans, took the name of Maximilian, and was ordained a priest. He was tireless in promoting devotion to the Blessed Mother and founded the Knights of the Immaculata in order that all, and he he meant all, would be consecrated to Our Lady.

He was a master of evangelization and led his fellow Franciscans and sharing the Gospel through widely circulated magazines, newspapers, and even a radio station that served many in pre-war Poland.

Soon after the Nazis took control of Poland, they shut down Fr. Kolbe's small "city" devoted to Our Lady and the evangelization of the world. He was arrested and sent to Auschwitz where he continued his priestly ministry in clandestine ways.

When a prisoner escaped, the soldiers in his barracks were called to formation in order that ten of them would be executed in retaliation and as a deterrent to any further attempts to escape. Although not picked as one of the ten men, Fr. Kolbe asked the commandant if he could replace one prisoner who was married and had children. Suprisingly, he agreed.

With the other nine men, Fr. Kolbe was placed in prison where they were left to die of starvation. As best as he could, he kept up the spirits of the men with prayers, words of encouragement, and even singing. He and one man survived longer than the soldiers could tolerate. Finally, Fr. Kolbe was put to death by injection on the eve of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Through his sacrifice of his own life for a family, we can understand why the Church has recognized, St. Maximilian Kolbe as one of the patron saints of families. May we, too, make sacrifices for our families and ask St. Maximilian for his prayers for our loved ones.

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A Final Thought

There you have it. The list of the top three patron saints of families. We should remember to pray for our families in general and specific ways. And, we can ask these holy saints for their prayers for our families. The saints love us and want to help us. They are cheering us on in this life, and they are happy to intercede for us to the Lord for whatever we need.

All you holy saints, pray for us!

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