What is a patron saint?
A patron saint is a saint who has been chosen as a special protector or guardian over a particular group of people or cause such as a country, occupation or an illness. For example: the patroness of the United States is Mary, the Mother of Jesus; the patron saint of photographers is St. Veronica; and the patron saint of arthritis sufferers is St. James the Apostle.
In recent times, patron saints have been named by the popes, but have also been chosen over time based on an interest, a talent or an event that occurred during their lives. Angels may also be named patron saints. Patron saints can provide guidance through the example of their lives or through intercessory prayers on our behalf to God. It is important to note
that saints are not worshipped but are venerated and honored as having lived an exemplary life and/or performed a special service for God. With that distinction, they hold a special place in heaven and can intercede on our behalf with unceasing prayer.
Traditionally, most Catholic churches are named after saints, based on the fact that many of the original churches where built over the tombs of martyrs. St. Peter's Basilica in Rome was so named because it rests on the site where Peter, the apostle and first Pope is thought to have been buried. Following this tradition, a relic of a saint is placed inside the altar of each church.
We typically have patron saints that we receive at baptism and confirmation. At baptism our patron saint is determined based on the name given to us by our parents. Later in life, we choose an additional patron saint through the choice of our confirmation name.