If you walk into your local religious goods store, you will probably see books and medals for St. Francis, St. Catherine, St. Cecilia, St. John, etc. But what about the saints that we might not be as familiar with? These are ten saints you might not know about, but you might want to check out after this!
1. Saint Olaf of Norway
Patron Saint of: kings, difficult marriages, Norway, carvers
Feast Day: July 29th
My favorite thing about this king was his nickname, Saint Olaf the Thick. And no, I am not making that up. He is most known for taking Norway to war against the pagan Danes and Swedes and seeing them to the end in 1016. He fought for Christianity in the empire up until his end where he died as a martyr on July 29th, 1031. This happened when he was outnumbered in battle and killed by an enemy’s axe. He was canonized in 1164.
2. Saint Genesius of Rome
Patron Saint of: actors, comedians, dancers, lawyers, clowns
Feast Day: August 25th
While you might recognize the name of this one, the story is often less known. Genesius was known all throughout Rome for his plays and shows mocking Christianity, during one of the bloodiest times of persecution of Christians, sometimes even on stage for his shows. But when the emperor commissioned Genesius to write a play mocking the sacrament of Baptism, he received sudden wisdom from God telling him not to do it. He refused to write the play, proclaimed his faith in front of the public, and refused to renounce it, resulting in his beheading.
3. Saint Pelagia of Antioch
Patron Saint of: actresses
Feast Day: October 8th
I tried writing out her story, but it was becoming a small novel, so instead, I will summarize it and leave you to learn more on your own. Pelagia started her life as an actress, dancer, and prostitute, but after hearing St. Nonnos preach, she converted. From there, she denied the devil (quite literally) and gave up all of her belongings so she could disguise herself as a monk to live out the rest of her life with the hermits in prayer. They called her “the beardless monk” and they didn’t discover her gender until after her death. That is the quick version of her story, but I recommend you look into it more.
4. Saint Drogo
Patron Saint of: coffee, unattractive people
Feast Day: April 16th
His mother died during childbirth, and he took to physically beating himself as he grew up because he felt responsible. At 18, he gave up all of his belongings to devote his life to God. What is really astounding, though, is that people would report seeing him both at mass and helping others at the same time, making it appear that he was at two places at once. He is the patron of unattractive people because while he was on a pilgrimage, he became sick, with gross deformities taking over his face. He was soon forced to live in a cell attached to a church, so as not to frighten babies or small children. While there, he lived off only water and the Eucharist until he died.
4. Saint Julian the Hospitaller
Patron Saint of: ferrymen, murderers, innkeepers, circus performers.
Feast Day: Febuary 12th
What makes this guy so interesting is that he had a true Oedipus-style situation on his hands. When he was born, he had a curse put upon him saying that he would kill both of his parents, which made his father want to kill him. Fortunately, his mother said they had to keep him. When he was old enough to learn of the curse, he ran away to grow up on his own. But years later, they met again, and due to drama too long to discuss, he did end up killing them. He felt so bad that he devoted his life to service and penance with his wife. They traveled to make a hostel to serve the needy. The devil then vandalized his hostel and blamed it on those Julian served, making Julian decide to never help those people again. Soon, God, disguised as a beggar, came and asked for help, which Julian denied. When he realized that it was God, he retracted his denial and vowed to help those in need once again. He died when robbers broke into the hostel and killed Julian and his wife, reflecting Julian’s murder of his parents.
5. Saint Lidwina
Patron Saint of: ice skaters
Feast Day: April 14th
Lidwina lived a religious childhood in her poor family, but while ice skating with friends at 15, she fell and broke her right rib. With no proper medical help during that time, she soon contracted gangrene. This put her in a lot of pain from the ages of 15 to 53. But those around her soon realized her power and faith. When tested to see if she was possessed by evil or just very blessed, she was brought an unconsecrated host, which she immediately noticed. People soon came to her for her visions and interpretations. One of her most notable is when she saw a rose bush with God speaking to her through it. With many notable people in the church coming to see her, she led a great life of guidance, although being in constant pain in bed. When she was dying, she said she could see God coming to greet her Himself.
6. Saint Januarius
Patron Saint of: Naples, blood banks
Feast Day: September 19th
We don’t know much about the life of Januarius, but we do know that he was a bishop during Emperor Diocletian’s persecution. He, his deacon and a lector were thrown to wild beasts, but when the beasts didn’t kill them, the three of them were beheaded. What makes this guy super cool is that his blood is kept in Naples as a relic, and three times a year it liquifies and bubbles. This even happened partially for Pope Francis when he went to see it!
7. Saint Bibiana
Patron Saint of: insanity, epilepsy, torture victims, hangovers
Feast Day: December 2nd
Bibiana had two parents and a sister, all of whom also became saints, but their parents were executed for their faith in the Roman empire and the two girls were left to die in poverty. After neither died of hunger, they were summoned to the Governor. Her sister was beheaded on the spot, but after Bibiana denied him of his attempts to seduce her, she was sent to become a prostitute. She still refused to let anyone steal her virginity and remained faithful to God. The Governor then had her sentenced to death by having her tied to a pillar and whipped with a metal whip. Her body was left in the open to be torn apart by wild animals, but when no animals touched it, a priest stealthily had it buried with her mother and sister.
8. Saint Vitus
Patron Saint of: oversleeping, dancers, protection against storms
Feast Day: June 15th
This guy had quite the adventure, so I will put in only some of the main points. He was the son of Sicilian Senator, but when his nurse and tutor had converted him to Christianity at the age of 12, his father had all three arrested. An angel freed them from their prison, so they escaped to Rome where Vitus freed the son of the Emperor from an evil spirit. However, when they celebrated and the three of them refused to make an offering to the pagan gods, they accused Vitus and his companions of sorcery and had them arrested. They were thrown to the lions, but the lions would not touch them, so they were thrown in boiling pots of oil. At the time of their deaths, a storm struck down several of the nearby pagan temples. If you want more fun information, look up the Saint Vitus dance and its association with mania.
9. Saint Apollonia
Patron Saint of: dentists, dental diseases, people suffering with toothache
Feast Day: February 9th
Apollonia lived as a virgin in Alexandria her whole life, but when she was an older lady, during the festival to commemorate the rising of Rome, an uprising against Christians began. They grabbed her and beat her until she lost or broke all of her teeth. She was given a chance to reject her faith or get burned in a great bonfire (and this is when it gets wild in my opinion), but when she stopped to look as if she was ready to reject God, she turned around and flung herself in the fire! What a power move!
10. Saint Justina of Padua
Patron Saint of: Padua, Venice, Palmanova
Feast Day: October 7th
A virgin her whole life, Justina was born into a noble, Christian family. When Christian persecutions started again in Rome, she would sneak into the prisons to pray with the taken Christians. She was arrested and brought before Maximian, who agreed to let her live if she gave up her vow of chastity for him. When she refused, she was killed by a sword through her chest. She is often painted with a unicorn symbolizing her virginity and a palm showing her martyrdom.