Making Friends with the Saints

saint devotions

Following Christ sometimes feels like a lonely road as we make career decisions that cause people to scratch their heads, as we date or lead our families counter-culturally, and as we stay close to the Sacraments in an age when skepticism dominates.

Thankfully, we are not alone in this life of discipleship.

Part of our Church’s beauty is the witness and friendship of thousands of men and women who also walked this road, striving for holiness in their own ways and times. The Catholic Church recognizes and formally declares as Saints individuals who have lived holy lives and are definitively believed to be in Heaven. By virtue of our baptisms, we are in communion with them. Truly, what better witnesses could we ask for in our own pursuit of holiness?!

The Saints Want to Be Our Companions

Yet, the idea of befriending a medieval French heroine can be daunting, even for those who have been in the Church for years. A cradle Catholic friend recently said to me, “I want to have my go-to Saint friends, but I don’t know where to start.”

Well, I’m no expert, but I find myself increasingly looking to the Saints for intercession and inspiration. Through prayer and guidance from some Saint-loving friends, I have developed a soft spot in my heart for particular Saints. These include:

  • St. Padre Pio, whose reminder to “pray, hope, and don’t worry” calms my heart when I’m anxious.
  • Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, who exemplifies vivacity in the face of suffering.
  • St. Teresa of Ávila, who reminds me that God can handle my sass
  • Pope St. John Paul II, who embodies courage and joyful strength.

These “friends” have deepened my spiritual life and continue to serve as stalwart companions on this road.

How to Be Friends with Saints

With a little time, initiative, and prayer, you can grow comfortable turning to the Saints, too. Whether you are starting at square one or just seeking to expand your saint circle, these ideas can help.

Start with your vocation.

As you seek to make a connection with the Saints, an easy place to begin is with your vocation. Are you a wife? Mother? Grandmother? Religious sister? Daughter? Young adult discerning God’s call? There are Saints who were each of these!

As a young woman dating and discerning marriage, I find myself turning to St. Anne, the mother of Mary and wife of St. Joachim.

I know some of my married and engaged friends have devotions to Sts. Zélie and Louis Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and the first married couple to be canonized together.

St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine who loved our Blessed Mother and prayed for her son’s conversion for 17 years, is the patron saint of mothers.

Perhaps a strong vocational call right now is to your profession as a student, teacher, physician, lawyer, writer, or artist. Check out St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Baptist de la Salle, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Luke, St. Thomas More, St. Francis de Sales, or St. Catherine of Bologna to find a saint who shared your professional vocation.

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Think about your interests…

After looking at the vocations that are most pertinent to you right now, think about your interests. Surely, there is a Saint who shared that interest, too.

Do you like music? St. Cecilia is your girl. Perhaps you volunteer regularly with your parish food pantry or are passionate about social justice. The lives of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Katharine Drexel, St. Oscar Romero, and St. Martin de Porres would inspire.

Do you love animals and spending time outdoors? Turn to St. Francis of Assisi, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Pope John Paul II, or Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.

St. Sebastian is the patron Saint of athletes, St. Christopher of travelers, St. Arnold of beer brewers, and Sts. Martha and Meinrad of hosts and hospitality.

The Saints are as diverse as we are, which C.S. Lewis celebrated by calling them “gloriously different.” So don’t give up if you haven’t yet found one with whom you connect.

And your life experiences, too!

My love for St. Teresa began when I visited her city of Ávila, Spain while studying abroad. Likewise, as a student at a university founded by the Congregation of Holy Cross, the order’s first canonized saint, St. André Bessette, became a model of humble service for me.

Think about your travels, heritage, education, name, or family devotions. Possibly, your family’s California roots render St. Junípero Serra a Saint to befriend, or fascination with Hawaii invites you to learn more about St. Damien of Molokai.

Are you part of a Hispanic community? Learn more about St. Juan Diego.

Maybe you attended a Jesuit high school or crossed paths with a Dominican who influenced your faith life; many holy men from these orders are Saints.

If the tragedy of miscarriage, infant loss, infertility, domestic violence, or divorce is woven into your story, spend some time with St. Gianna, St. Zélie, St. Catherine of Sweden, St. Rita of Cascia, or St. Helena.

Have you been affected by breast cancer? Pray to St. Agatha.

I grew in devotion to St. Thomas the Apostle during a period of doubt in my own faith life because I recognized something of myself in him.

Your faith journey might be marked by conversion, and so turning to St. Paul, St. Josephine Bakhita, or St. Edith Stein would be meaningful.

People tend to think that the Saints are all the same: pious, boring, and obsolete. As you begin exploring the lives of these holy people, you’ll discover how alike we are to them and how profoundly they speak to our lives today.

Then, it’s time to befriend!

How to Start

Now that you have some ideas of whom you can befriend, the question becomes how.

Start by picking one Saint whom you want to get to know better (this could be a great monthly challenge!). Give yourself time to get acquainted with him or her.

Saint biographies abound, as do many of the Saints’ own spiritual writings.

To serve as a visual reminder, I like to write a quote from the Saint on a Post-It note and hang it on my mirror or place it in my planner.

Pray using the Saint’s own words (check-out Pray More Novenas as a helpful guide in praying for the nine successive days leading up to the Saint’s feast day), or ask the Saint to intercede for you.

Finally, find some activity that commemorates that Saint. Introduce friends to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, explore local trails to celebrate St. Kateri, donate to a pro-life cause in honor of St. Gianna, or share Polish donuts—paczki—to celebrate St. Maximilian Kolbe.

It Takes Willingness and Time

Just as making friends takes invitation, intentionality, and time, making friends with the Saints does, too. Anticipate that certain stories and personalities will resonate more strongly, so be patient in finding your saintly companions.

Who are some of your saintly friends? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Grace Carroll is a native New Englander who currently calls the cornfields of Indiana home as she pursues her Master’s in pastoral theology. In between studying and working in college ministry, she sneaks in as many runs, naps, novels, trails, snail mail, and dark chocolate that she can.

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  • Reply
    Susan Ahlbrand
    November 8, 2019 at 5:20 am

    This Is a wonderful Inspiration to “dig in” on learning about the Saints. It comes just a few days after our parish mission with Jon Leonetti, who talked of the Saints in such rich detail that it set a fire in me.

    I love how you basically instruct us how to go about undertaking this endeavor. It builds confidence to just do it!

    Last year, I used the Saint generator for a saint of the year, and I got Saint Francis de Sales, which was perfect as I am a teacher. I have loved getting to know him, mainly through his many wise quotes.

    I live in Indiana! I suspect you are at St. Meinrad, which is just down the road from me. If you would ever want to get coffee or something, let me know!

    • Reply
      November 8, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      Hi Susan! Thanks for your kind words 🙂 my love of the saints keeps growing. They are just beautiful holy friends-to-be! I’m in South Bend actually – would love connecting if you’re close!

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