The Saints Issue

The Patron Saints

In addition to St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, there are 10 saints that many Catholics consider “must know” religious figures — the starting lineup of saints, if you will. Even if you’re not of the Catholic faith, but you live on the Gulf Coast, it’s a good idea to learn more about these first-string saints and better understand their connection to the day-to-day lives of Catholics in the region, so without further ado:

St. Michael the Archangel
One of three archangels (not technically a canonized saint) mentioned in the Bible along with Gabriel and Raphael, Holy Michael, as he is known, is viewed as the angelic template for becoming a “spiritual warrior” and serves as the leader of the Army of God. Often depicted holding scales, one of his four primary tasks is to weigh “good” and “bad” on judgment day and escort the faithful to heaven when they die.
Gulf Coast Connection: St. Michael the Archangel Church in Convent, Louisiana is one of the oldest parishes in the state, having been officially established in 1809 — three whole years before Louisiana became part of America. The St. James Parish church’s Lourdes Grotto, constructed in 1876, is renowned for its serenity and craftsmanship.
On Gameday: Thanks to his leadership and strength, St. Michael is considered a healer of the sick. If you’re hoping for an injury-free gameday for players, consider reciting St. Michael the Archangel’s prayer. He also serves as the patron saint of grocers, if you’d like to bless those people working at Rouses to help fans find last-minute snacks.

St. Christopher

Perhaps best known for painstakingly carrying a child — who turned out to be Jesus Christ himself — across a dangerous river, St. Christopher’s iconography frequently appears hanging from rearview mirrors to ensure protection when traveling from place to place.
Gulf Coast Connection: St. Christopher is not only the patron saint of sailors and those who work on the water, but the patron saint of protection from storms.
On Gameday: If the Saints have an away game, a prayer to St. Christopher for safe travels is always a wise choice.

St. Jude
One of the 12 Apostles of Christ — and not to be confused with Judas Iscariot — St. Jude is often depicted in iconography holding a club and an image of Jesus, with flames encircling his head representing his acceptance of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Gulf Coast Connection: Since opening in 1998, the St. Jude Baton Rouge Affiliate Clinic at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health has provided the most advanced care possible for children diagnosed with cancer and blood-borne illness. (St. Jude also happens to be a patron saint of hospitals.)
On Gameday: St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations, so if the team is down in the fourth quarter and needs a last-minute miracle, this is the saint to turn to for assistance.

St. Anthony of Padua
Renowned for his skills as an orator and educator, St. Anthony of Padua became one of the first teachers in the Franciscan Order, educating other friars about how to best preach and spread the word of the Lord.
Gulf Coast Connection: An oasis of tranquility within the bustle of the French Quarter, St. Anthony’s Garden, located directly behind St. Louis Cathedral, features not only the iconic, shadow-casting statue of Jesus with arms outstretched, but iron fencing where artists hang their works for sale each morning. Originally plotted in the 17th century, St. Anthony’s Garden has served as everything from a kitchen garden for Capuchin monks, to a shelter for fire victims, to a dueling site.
On Gameday: St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost items, can help you find your misplaced lucky Saints jersey or autographed Alvin Kamara Airhead candy just in time for kickoff by reciting this prayer: “St. Anthony, please lcome around; something is lost and must be found.”

St. Joseph
The husband of Mary and earthly father-figure to Jesus, St. Joseph was a carpenter of little means — when Jesus was born, Joseph offered two doves at the temple, an allowance for those who could not afford to offer a lamb — but he was descended from the royal lineage of King David. The Angel of the Lord appeared frequently to Joseph to give instruction, first informing him that Mary’s pregnancy was with the Son of God and not out of adultery, and second, to warn Joseph of King Herod’s plan to kill the infant Jesus, prompting them to escape to Egypt until Herod’s death.
Gulf Coast Connection: Get your altars ready! Every year on March 19, New Orleanians throughout the city — from churches, to bakeries, to bars, to Rouses Markets — carry on Sicilian tradition and celebrate the Feast Day of St. Joseph by creating stunningly elaborate altars to thank him for relief from hunger with loaves of bread, cornucopias of pastry, fruit, St. Lucy’s Eyes Pie, fava beans (for luck) and lemons.
On Gameday: St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers, meaning that he’s certainly watching over all the armchair quarterback and stadium-seat referee dads on gameday who are getting their blood pressure up over the next play that’s about to be called.

St. Mary the Virgin
Considered by many to be the most venerated, exalted and holy of all the Christian saints, St. Mary the Virgin — who goes by many names, including Blessed Virgin Mary, Blessed Mother and Mary, Mother of God — was the mother of Jesus Christ and is an enduring symbol of perfect love in Catholicism.
Gulf Coast Connection: In March 2023, two high school math students at St. Mary’s Academy in New Orleans East figured out the solution to a problem that had been stumping mathematicians for over 2,000 years: how to prove the Pythagorean Theorem using trigonometry and without using circular logic.
On Gameday: Pope Pius XI declared St. Mary the Virgin, under the title “Our Lady of Prompt Succor,” as the patron saint of Louisiana in 1928. Say a prayer to Our Lady of Prompt Succor on game day, on behalf of all concerned Louisianans, if quick assistance is needed.

St. Francis of Assisi
A fascinating saint well-known for his vow of poverty, humble nature and deep connection with all aspects of the natural world — from animals to the environment — St. Francis of Assisi is considered the founder of all orders of Franciscan monks. St. Francis preached not only to humans, but wildlife. In one well-known story, he preached to hundreds of birds about being thankful to God for their fantastic clothes and independence. The birds stood still as he walked among him, only flying off when he said they could leave.
Gulf Coast Connection: St. Francisville, Louisiana, a place well-known for its natural beauty, was named in honor of St. Francis and his peaceful monks upon its founding in 1807.
On Gameday: St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals, so it’s fitting that you talk to your pets about him on gameday as you dress them in their black-and-gold collars and pooch-sized jerseys.

St. Thomas Aquinas
One of the most admired theologians and philosophers of his era, St. Thomas Aquinas was a 13th-century Dominican friar, lecturer and priest who revered Aristotle and pioneered the use of Greek philosophy that featured the power of reason to demonstrate that God and his universe could be understood by reason guided by faith.
Gulf Coast Connection: The patron saint of scholars and educational pursuits, St. Thomas Aquinas serves as the namesake for schools and institutions of higher learning across the Gulf South, from Saint Thomas Aquinas Regional Catholic High School in Hammond, Louisiana to the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church located on the grounds of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
On Gameday: If you’re hoping to review statistics and numbers from previous games for greater clarity about what the Saints’ current gridiron matchup might hold, ask St. Thomas Aquinas for focus and wisdom.St. Peter
One of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ and the First Pope of the Catholic Church, St. Peter, also known as Peter the Apostle, is widely recognized for his depth of conviction, strength and the steadfastness of his faith. Originally a fisherman named Simon, he was given the name Peter by Jesus; the name comes from the ancient Greek word Petros, meaning “rock” — due to his rock-solid faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Gulf Coast Connection: St. Peter is the patron saint of netmakers, fishermen, shipwrights and bridge builders. Any people along the Gulf Coast who work within the seafood industry (or enjoy Gulf Coast seafood, for that matter) should hope St. Peter is watching over them and everyone who is gathering the sea’s abundance.
On Gameday: If the Saints are locked in a tie, pray to St. Peter, also the patron saint of locksmiths, to break the tie.St. Joan of Arc
A point of French pride, embodiment of independent valor and early feminist, St. Joan of Arc believed she was acting under divine guidance from Archangel Michael when she led the French army to victory over the English at the Battle of Orléans in 1429. While she was neither a knight nor a trained soldier, when she mounted a horse for the first time, she was so self-possessed and natural that the Duke of Lorraine gifted it to her.
Gulf Coast Connection: If the triumphant golden statue of Joan of Arc rearing back on her horse, ready to ride headlong into battle, located in the Place de France outside New Orleans’ French Market isn’t connection enough, just wait until you see the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc. Each year on January 6 — or Twelfth Night, the kickoff to carnival season —  the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc hosts a Medieval-style walking procession featuring costumes and music from 1400s France, jugglers, knights, stilt-walkers, giant puppets and handmade medieval throws to honor New Orleans’ unofficial patron saint.
On Gameday: Even among the canonized, Joan of Arc remains lauded for her singular courage. If you’re concerned that the Saints might need a little boost of bravery on the field, a prayer to the heroic “Maid of New Orleans” might be in order.