Patron Saints for Children
Saints are patrons for all kinds of things. There are categories you would never expect. For example, St. John Nepomucene is the patron saint of running water. And, St. Brigid of Ireland is the patron of chicken farmers.
When it comes to children, there are a number of patron saints. Here are seven of the patron saints for children.
St. Nicholas of Myra
(died c. 346) Feast Day: December 6th
Perhaps the best known patron saint for children is the fourth century bishop St. Nicholas of Myra which is in modern day Turkey. Of course, today, he is been transformed into Santa Claus. The real saint was said to have been orphaned at an early age and received a substantial inheritance. He would be ordained a priest and later a bishop. Nicholas was known for his generosity and care for others.
There are several stories that we have from his lifetime which show his love for others and the miraculous. And, then after his death, there are even many more stories which demonstrate his intercession in helping people including performing miracles.
The one story from his lifetime that shows his love for others and seems to be the basis for the gift giving associated with him is about his helping a man and his three daughters. Reduced to poverty, the man had no dowry for his three daughters, and he was not sure what to do. When Nicholas heard of the man's plight, he secretly left gold in the man's home by dropping it though a window. On three separate nights, Nicholas left the gold to allow the man to have his daughters married with a proper dowry.
(First Century) Feast Days: March 19th, May 1st
The spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a lesser-known patron saint of children. Of course, St. Joseph is a powerful intercessor as the Protector of the Church and the model for husbands and fathers.
And, it only makes sense that Joseph would be the patron of children. He was called to be the Guardian of the Redeemer. As the head of the Holy Family, 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. 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 children.
(died c. 316) Feast Day: February 3rd
Blaise was a physician and also a bishop. He was known for living in a somewhat remote cave where he spent a considerable amount of time in prayer. Through his intercession, many people and animals were healed. One story notes that the animals who were injured would come to his cave and patiently wait until he was done praying to be healed.
It was through the animals outside his cave that Blaise was discovered by the governor of Cappadocia. His men were hunting in the forest, saw the phenomena of the animals, and subsequently arrested Blaise as a Christian. Refusing to recant, Blaise was thrown in prison where he healed some of his fellow prisoners.
While in prison, he helped a child who was choking on a fish bone. Through this incident, Blaise became associated with the healing and blessing of throats.
Eventually, he was brutally martyred for the faith.
It is now a custom to have your throat blessed on his feast day which is February 3rd.
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Bl. Gezelin of Schlebusch
(died 1149) Feast Day: August 6th
Gezelin was a Cistercian lay brother and hermit who was a shepherd at the Altenburg Abbey. His association with children is through a miracle that occurred to end a drought in the region. Gezelin stabbed his shepherd's crook into the ground. From the hole he made a spring of water began to flow. The water from this spring continues to flow to this day centuries later, and it is known for its healing powers.
(c. 630 - 680) Feast Day: January 30th
As a very young woman, St. Balthild was kidnapped from her home in England and taken to France and sold into slavery. Like Joseph of the Old Testament, she was an upright and trusted person, and therefore placed in charge of the household of the Mayor of the Palace of the King who was Clovis II. The king was attracted to the beautiful and capable Balthild, and he married her.
The couple would have three sons who all would eventually be a successor to their father. When Clovis died in 657, Balthild served as the regent for the oldest son, who was still a youth, when he was crowned king. In her position as the queen mother, she pushed back against those who were trying to buy ecclesial offices, prohibited infanticide, and put laws in place to limit slavery even as she used her own money to ransom slaves.
Balthild also generously helped found several abbeys and monasteries. She had hoped to retire to one of the monasteries when she was no longer needed in her royal position. That time arrived in 665 when a palace revolt removed her from power.
The former queen submitted to the rule of St. Bertilla in the monastery of Chelles. She demonstrated great humility in taking on all of the dirtiest jobs in the convent. And, finally, after almost fifteen years of humble and devout religious life, she fell ill and died in 680.
St. Gerard Majella
(1725 - 1755) Feast Day: October 16th
St. Gerard Majella was the son of a tailor who died when he was only twelve years of age. The family became impoverished and the young Gerard worked in any way he could to help make ends meet.
Later, Gerard would sense a call to the religious life. First, he tried to join the Capuchins, but his lifelong frail health prevented them from accepting him. Eventually, he was accepted to Redemptorists as a lay brother. Gerard's duties included serving as a gardener, porter, infirmarian, and, like his father, a tailor.
As an older adult, he was falsely accused of fathering a child. Gerard's response was silence. After bearing the brunt of the accusation for some time, the charge was cleared when the woman retracted her accusation. Through this incident, he became a patron of pregnant women and children, especially babies.
In his lifetime, he was known for performing miracles, bilocation, and demonstrating the ability to read others' consciences. He died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty.
Feast Day: October 2nd
And, we do not want to forget the guardian angels. By God's grace, we each have a guardian angel. Although we might think of them for bodily protection, they are primarily concerned about our immortal souls. Thus, they encourage us to love God and love our neighbors in order that we might do the will of God. We should invoke them for the protection and guidance of our children and grandchildren.
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