To become a saint, one must live a life worthy of being rewarded with the Kingdom of God. Even then, this is not a beeline to the top. The first rung on the ladder is “Servant of God,” then “Venerable,” then “Blessed.” After that, a holy person is considered a “Friend of God,” otherwise known as a Saint.
Below you’ll find 8 lesser-known saints and the people that they watch over.
1. Blaise – Patron Saint of throat Ailments, Veterinarians, and Wild Animals
Feast Day: February 3
As a bishop, Blaise was arrested for praying and went into hiding in order to avoid martyrdom. He shared a cave with some wild animals that he cared for. He was eventually found and ordered to stand trial, but on the way there, he convinced a wolf to return a woman’s stolen pig. When he was sentenced to a slow, painful death by starvation, the grateful owner of the pig slipped him food so that he wouldn’t die. During this time, a woman came to Blaise for help. Her son was choking on a fish bone, but Blaise managed to save his life. When the governor learned that Blaise was still alive, he ordered him to be skinned alive and then beheaded. He died in 316 AD.
2. Genevieve – Patron Saint of Disasters and Paris
Feast Day: January 3
By the age of 15, Genevieve was a nun. When her hometown of Paris was under siege by Childeric, king of the Franks, she risked her own life to go into the city to find food and supplies for the suffering. Years later, she had to face another dangerous conqueror – Attila the Hun. As Parisians prepared to leave their homes rather than face the barbarians, Genevieve convinced them to stay in their homes and pray instead. Today, it’s still unknown why Attila the Hun didn’t attack Paris. Genevieve passed away in 500 AD.
3. Denis – Patron Saint of Headaches
Feast Day: October 9
In 258 AD, during the persecution of Emperor Decius, Denis, the first bishop of Paris, was imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded. But wait, there’s more! It is claimed that his headless body carried his severed head away from the site of his execution. In any case, his headless body was dumped in the River Seine, but his devout followers pulled it out.
4. Edward the Confessor – Patron Saint of Difficult Marriages
Feast Day: October 13
Edward became the king of England in 1042. He was a peaceful leader, who only went into battle when he needed to defend his allies. He was concerned about the fair treatment of all people and wanted to do away with unfair taxation. He built churches, with the most famous one being Westminster Abbey. Early in his life, he took a vow of chastity, but he took a wife, Editha, to please the people of his kingdom. He remained celibate throughout his life and died in 1066.
5. Lydwina – Patron Saint of Ice Skaters
Feast Day: April 14
Lydwina was from a poor family in Holland. She was highly religious and prayed often. In 1395, she broke several of her ribs in an ice-skating accident and gangrene spread throughout her body, causing her severe pain for the remainder of her life. Lydwina experienced visions throughout her life, including one of a rosebush with the inscription, “When this shall be in bloom, your suffering will be at an end.” In 1433, she saw the rosebush and died soon after.
6. Felicity – Patron Saint of Barren Women and Parents Who Have Had a Child Die
Feast Day: March 7
Felicity rose from slave to sainthood, but her path was far from easy. The legend of Felicity varies: One version says that her sons were killed right in front of her for choosing Christianity and then she was beheaded. Another version says that she was 8 months pregnant when she and five others were sentenced to die a martyr’s death. They were baptized and led away to suffer greatly in prison. Felicity was upset because she didn’t think that she would be able to suffer martyrdom at the same time as the others as the law forbade the execution of pregnant women. As luck would have it, in 203 AD, she delivered a baby girl just two days before the games and she was able to die in the amphitheater along with the others. Their killers? A wild boar, bear, and a leopard ripped the men apart, while a wild cow slaughtered the women.
7. Alexis of Rome – Patron Saint of Beggars
Feast Day: July 17
Alexis, the son of a distinguished Roman, fled his father’s house on his wedding night and sustained a frugal religious existence for 17 years. As his fame as a holy man increased, he returned to Rome and lived as a beggar under the stairs of his father’s palace for the last 17 years of his life. When he died in 417 AD, he was found with a document on his body that declared his identity.
8. Apollonia – Patron Saint of Dentists
Feast Day: February 9
Apollonia was an old woman who, in 248 AD, was persecuted for being Christian. She found herself in the midst of an angry anti-Christian mob. They knocked all of her teeth out and then dragged her to a huge fire. They told her that they’d spare her life if she renounced her religion. She paused, as if to curse God, but then threw herself into the fire instead. St. Apollonia is often depicted wearing a necklace of her own teeth.