Summer is like a right of passage that marks each passing year. Bugs abound, dandelions, too, and everyone spends a little more time participating in activities that have a certain feel to them. The word itself illicites thoughts of sunbeams, water adventures, and escapades to new landmarks both near and far. Even for those who work year round, there is still a delight and anticipation in the change of pace this sultry season brings.
The Patron Saints of Summer
As we’re currently in the midst of the season’s warmth, I find myself coming across countless summer-y stories concerning the Saints. Being the theology nerd that I am, my brain naturally compiled these stories into a neat list that has become a personal litany with which I begin my day. Their stories themselves have that same feeling of warmth and light that the season brings to mind.
Saint Augustine of Hippo
Once, Augustine went for a walk on the beach as he was trying to comprehend the mystery of the Trinity. During this stroll, he encountered a young boy who was running back and forth between the ocean and a hole in the sand. On each trip, the boy would carry water from the ocean in a seashell and pour it into the hole he had created.
When Augustine questioned his intentions, the boy admitted he was attempting to acquiesce the entire ocean within his little chasm. Augustine pointed out the absurdity of this notion, only to have the boy retort that it was more probable for him to complete his task than it was for Augustine to believe he could completely comprehend the infinite being of God within his tiny human intellect.
Saint Jane Frances de Chantel
A mother who suffered much anxiety, depression, and doubt after the death of her husband, Saint Jane established a habit of meditation that helped her to grow in trust of God. At the beginning of each day, she would enter into prayer and imagine herself wading into the ocean until it was deep enough for her to float on her back. Then she’d identify every single worry, fear, and anxiety and picture them as individual buoys on to which she held. One by one, she’d release each buoy, allow it to float away, and visualize God taking them into His hand.
Every morning, the buoys returned, but Saint Jane was persistent, hoping that maybe one day, a single buoy would never return.
Saint Francis de Sales
A priest and spiritual director to many (including Saint Jane), Francis had great respect for a summertime staple, the bee. In one of his many writings to a spiritual directee named “Philothea,” he remarks at the purity of their work stating:
the bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them…Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion [to Christ].
Our Lady of the Highways
Since Summer results in all sorts of vacations, weekend getaways, and day trips, why not call on the Madonna who offers protection during any type of journey?
The prayer is a beautiful reminder of her constant presence and a great way to start any trip!
One of the most prominent Roman martyrs in the Early Church, Lawrence was put to death by being roasted on a gridiron. Legend has it that as he was being burned alive, he joked with the executioners saying, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side!”
Inspired by his sense of humor, the Church declared him the patron Saint of cooks. Since he died on a grill, and summer naturally brings with it an abundance of outdoor grilling, it would be extremely appropriate to ask for his intercession every time you fire up the grill!
Backyard gardens are a staple of summer. Though not all of us possess green thumbs, almost everyone appreciates farm fresh or home-grown fruits and veggies. Thankfully, the patron Saint of gardening is helpful no matter your skill level of gardening. The Irish St. Fiacre apparently only had to drag a shovel against the ground to get a garden to sprout!
The Apostle of Christ who was martyred by being skinned alive, Bartholomew is the patron Saint of skin issues. Since sunburns abound in the summer, this is the Saint one can call upon while applying the aloe vera.
An Irish missionary whose journeys and love of winding, back-country roads appealed to bikers who adopted him as the patron Saint of motorcycles.
Madonna Del Ghisallo
A local count in the Italian region near Lake Como had a vision of this Lady as he was being attacked by bandits during a journey. He ran towards her and was saved from the robbery. He built a shrine on the hill in her honor, which later became a part of the famous Giro di Lombardia bicycle race.
To this day, the church houses numerous jerseys of professional cyclists donated in gratitude to Our Lady. It was Pope Pius XII who declared her to be the patroness of cyclists.
One thing that is always certain to be a part of summer is fireworks—at least in the United States where we celebrate our Independence Day at the beginning of July. The patroness of fireworks probably never actually saw them herself.
Barbara’s simple conversion occurred after being kept in a tower for most of her life. Upon meeting Christians, she converted and refused to marry. Furious, her father and the prefect of the city beat her mercilessly, injuring her with rakes and hooks, and then shamed her by walking her through the streets naked. They finally ended her torture with beheading.
At the end of the day, both men went home where they were supposedly struck dead by lightning. Understandably, Barbara is the patroness of lightning and thunderstorms. The connection to fireworks was made because of the similarity for lights flashing in the sky.
Saint Adjutor of Vernon
What is summer without some swimming? This Christian soldier escaped his captors by swimming from a coastal island to the mainland. He is the patron Saint of swimmers and boaters.
Though not the official patron saint of either of these pastimes, Peter was a fisherman who also “rode the waves” that one time when he stepped out of the boat and tried to walk on water.
His intercession could be requested when fishing and surfing.
Saints in the Making
This list is by no means an exhaustive. There are dozens of more men and women who lived holy lives, set apart for God who could easily be added to this group. Not to mention that there are so many more unique summertime activities that people participate in that have yet to have a patron Saint declared!
That is the beauty of the universality of our Faith. No matter the activity in which we delight, there are saints to walk alongside us. And when there is no official patron for a favorite activity, it simply means there is room for one of us to (hopefully) stand guard over it from Heaven.
Of what summer fun could you be deemed the patron Saint?
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