The Gift of My Patron Saint

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I didn’t choose my patron saint, she choose me.

It was a breezy spring afternoon at wrap up week for National Evangelization Teams (NET) Ministries. Hanging out in Amery, WI at Camp Wapo was a chance to connect with friends and prepare ourselves to ‘face the real world’. As the crowd was gathering in the chapel for the next wrap up session on something like, ‘trusting God with your future’, or ‘how to proclaim Jesus in the workplace’, my very dear friend, Jeremy, grabbed my hand and said, “C’mon! Let’s go!” Stunned, I looked at him. “But, but, but…”, I stammered as my eyes watched the people go inside and my body started moving in the opposite direction. I couldn’t help but think that ‘I don’t skip, this isn’t me! I go to things I am expected to be at.’ But that day, I didn’t and in some ways it forever changed my life.

Jeremy led me down a wooded path just beyond the buildings. There was some sort of team building course set up. I remember there being a long rope to balance and walk on with ropes on the sides to hold onto. Below was a big pit of sloppy mud. Jeremy got on the rope and helped me up. As we started across he turned and looked at me intently.

“Molly, who is your patron saint?”

Being the good Catholic girl that I was, but still having a very Protestant disposition, I wasn’t sure what he meant.

“Uh, I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know? Who is your confirmation saint?”

“I don’t have one.”

“You didn’t pick a saint at your confirmation?”

Nope. I sure didn’t. And I remember so much about that day, April 10, 1994 to be exact, but I don’t recall having a saint.

“Well, that’s ok,” he said, “we’ll find you one.”

“Can you do that?” I asked.

“Sure, why not? Now let me think…”

A few moments went by. Excited and nervous, I looked down at the mud, thinking about who it might be while simultaneously thinking we might get caught skipping out on session. I looked around, no one to be seen. We started to move again.

Abruptly he turned to me causing the rope to sway and exclaimed, “I’ve got it!”

Grinning from ear to ear, Jeremy proclaimed, “Joan of Arc!”

“Ohhh, I like that,” I said, and I really did. I knew very little of her, but I liked the thought of having someone so courageous as my saint.

“Yes, that’s right. She’s strong and is a great warrior. And you, you are a great warrior.”

I looked shyly down, not used to having a guy pay so much attention to me. I was pleased, but certainly didn’t quite feel like a warrior. I also couldn’t help but think of her being burned at the stake. Did I really want my patron saint to be someone who was burned alive! Did that mean martyrdom was in my future?

“Uh, could I also have Mary?”

He laughed, “Yes, yes you can. They will both be your saints.”

And then he said it, “Molly Jean Mary Joan.”

I don’t know how long it took me to figure out that my birth names are actually derivatives of my patrons. Molly is an Irish form of Mary and Jean is a variant of Jane taken from John, which Joan is the feminine equivalent to. I guess your patron saint really does choose you.

I remember that day proudly recalling how Jeremy treated me, the abundance of life he exuded. His smile. The way he looked at me when he said Joan of Arc, brightly grinning, as if he just revealed a great secret. He was a good friend to me and I was glad to cut class to forever have that memory with him. We had a few other adventures during our time with NET, but this is the one that remains so present with me today.

A year later we lost Jeremy to a tragic accident. A life shortly lived, but lived to the full. It’s been 14 years since his death, but I still recall that spring day. The mud. His smile. His ability to make one feel known. Thank you Jeremy for teaching me about living life to the full and for giving me one of the greatest gifts one could ask for, my patron saint.

St. Joan of Arc’s feast day is May 30. To see my favorite painting of her, click here.

Who is your patron saint? How did you choose them or how did they choose you?



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10 thoughts on “The Gift of My Patron Saint”

  1. Avatar
    Abigail Reimel

    What a touching article! St. Joan of Arc is my patron also- I was stuck between choosing her or St. Catherine of Alexandria- but since St. Catherine appeared to her, it’s almost like I got two for one! 🙂
    Thank the Lord you were able to enjoy that moment so beautifully and clearly, for now you can keep Jeremy and his message alive, though he is gone. I’m sure he is touched to know that his one of his lasting legacies was such a holy one- helping a friend in Christ find her patroness.
    May God bless you, and may Jeremy rest in peace!

    1. Avatar

      Thanks, Abigail! I think you got two for one as well. 🙂

      And thank you for your kind words about my friend. He was (is) a wonderful soul. I am grateful for the memories.

  2. Avatar

    My patron saint is St. Agnes. Agnes is my grandma’s name and ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve always been drawn to her. I chose her to be my saint when I was confirmed.

    1. Avatar

      Great choice! I like how our patrons have been with us, really, since we were little. And have carried us through to today! God bless!

  3. Avatar

    I’m in my early 20s. I never heard about Confirmation Saints till a few months ago so I didn’t have one either. But I think I know who my patron Saints are. I was born on September 8. My parents prayed for it when they realized I might be born near Mama Mary’s birthday.

    A year after my Confirmation, I started serving in my high school Campus Ministry. Our patron was St. Therese of Lisieux. We’d have our installation on her feast day, October 1 every year. A few years ago, after a deeper conversion, I found myself drawn to Carmelite spirituality. I’ve slowly realized that much of what God tells me in prayer has later been confirmed by her writings.

  4. Avatar
    Nathan DeParis

    Mt Patron St. is St.Thomas . Many in my Mom’s side is named after our grandfather Thomas, so that kind of got me thinking, and that was always supposed to be my conformation name so when I came back to jump in the Tiber Doubting Thomas came to mind which is symbolic of where I was for a while in my Faith. So now having him to watch over me takes on an even bigger significance.

    1. Avatar

      Good pick. I think very prevalent for our day as well. There are so many doubting Thomas’s roaming about. But God keeps pressing in on us. Glad you made your way back home. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Avatar

      Similarly, my patron (both in baptism and throughout life) is Thomas Aquinas — I’m the third generation of my family to be baptized for him, thanks to my grandmother’s interest in his theology when she converted to her husband’s Roman Catholicism from her childhood Ruthenian Greek Rite Catholicism before marriage (she was an avid Marianist, so my mother was baptized Marie; her idea of the American Dream was baptizing my uncles for Thomas Aquinas and Robert Bellamine!). Since my godfather was that uncle with “Thomas” as his middle name, I was given the same and was pleased to be told by her years later *which* Thomas it was for (and given someone in my family to talk scholasticism with before she passed — and got to stop being called “Doubting Brian Thomas”) when I first discovered the Summa.

      I’ve never fully understood why my grandmother, a women with connections to the Franciscans through her husband’s family and her own lay devotions, baptized her sons after a Dominican and a Jesuit (and created two three-generation-deep traditions in each case, although the Thomas one has skipped via uncle-nephew while Robert has gone father-son). But I start my official Inquiry and Postulancy as a Lay Dominican in September after work with the local chapter’s formation director this summer, amidst the rest of my ministerial and academic work, so I can imagine that my grandmother knew something all those decades ago!

      Although the weirdest but most touching patron saint bit from Grandma remains regarding the choices made regarding my mother: as I said, *her* baptism was as Marie — and her confirmation — due to the insistence of my grandmother and her own devotion to the Immaculate Conception (I recently found and claimed her 1937 booklet of IC novena and prayers) — was Anne. My mother passed away suddenly a few years ago from a stroke and we didn’t know that we could get all of her children from around the country there in time (some were as far away from NJ as Los Angeles). Instead of the hour or two of life expected, she somehow hung on comatose all night until dawn, until about ten minutes after all of her children were around her bedside (actually the first time we’d all been even in the same room together in a decade). The new day’s morning that she had miraculously survived into before quietly passing away? December 8…the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Now THAT’S a Gift of One’s Patron Saints!

  5. Pingback: Martyrdom in Mosul |

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