Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saint Who?

Week Four: Patron Saints

"Saint Who?" by Julie Robison
"Budding Hope" by Trista at Not A Minx
"Less is More" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the fourth post of the Bright Maidens. We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

When I was little, I was given my first book of saints. I love reading about the saints and their lives: the martyrs, the virgins, the consecrated religious, the lay people, the Doctors of the Church, and thousands of witnesses to the power of Christ in one’s life. I love the litany of saints at Mass, and I love that the communion of saints is still hustling and bustling in the vibrant body of Christendom. Saints were fallen humans too, who faced the same world, and still rose to the challenge of following Christ. They sanctified themselves, in order to help sanctify the world, to paraphrase St. Francis.

The saints, through my now 23 years on this green earth, have been my constant companions. St. Anthony and I have a special bond. I lose things, send up an intercessory request for him to help me, and I usually find it within moments.

Then there’s St. Thomas Aquinas (patron saint of academics) and St. Joseph Cupertino (patron saint of test-taking), whom I was frequently begging for help. Don’t forget St. Maria Goretti, the patron saint of young women, or St. Philip Neri, the patron saint of Rome (and a prime example that holiness can have a sense of humor), or St. Thomas More (patron saint of civil servants and large families) or St. Francis de Sales (patron of writers and journalists), more favorites. There’s even a St. Julie Billiart! She founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Those are only a few; there are hundreds of thousands of saints! My confirmation saint is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, another favorite saint. She is the patron saint of bakers, countesses, death of children, falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows, and young brides.

You can imagine my excitement then, when Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary posted her Saint Generator, and my anticipation of who my “saint of the year” was going to be.

Want to take a gander at which saint I got? No really, guess!

Did you guess St. Hyacinth?

Have you heard of St. Hyacinth?

Say it with me: Hy-a-cinth.

My disappointment was palpable, to say the least. I might have even frowned.

I know! That was naughty of me, and ungrateful. To make matters worse, everyone was talking about which saints they got. Jen got St. Francis de Sales. Elizabeth got St. Thomas More. Lisa got St. Jane de Chantel.

Enter the green-eyed monster and a grumpy demeanor; I was feeling seriously dejected. Why didn’t I get a cool saint like them? (I know, I’m breaking the 10th commandment at this point.) I looked up St. Hyacinth and found barely anything. Well, he was a Dominican. That made me happy. I love the Dominican order.

Scroll, scroll, scroll. Click, click, click. I was determined to find something.

Now- don’t get me wrong. St. Hyacinth is a neat saint. He’s called the “Confessor of the North.” He spread the Faith until his death in 1251. He brought the Faith to Poland, as well as evangelizing in Denmark, Greece, Norway, Russia Scotland, Sweden, and Turkey. One of his miracles include saving the blessed Eucharist in a Monstrance and a statue of the Blessed Mother during an attack on a monastery in Kiev, with the very heavy Monstrance and statue becoming weightless so he could run away with them.

He’s the patron saint of Lithuania, I read. I could feel my spirit sinking again. None of this really "applied" to me. I was confused. But I, a non-Lithuanian, am also a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. Why did I get this saint, I kept thinking.

Then I saw it: patron saint of those in danger of drowning.

When I was little, I used to go up North to my cousins’ house for a week. Once, my sister and I were playing Frisbee outside. She accidently threw it over the fence and it landed on the neighbor’s covered pool. Being the big sister, I volunteered to climb over the fence and retrieve the Frisbee. We thought our cousins would be so angry that we lost their Frisbee.

So over the fence I climbed. The neighbor’s pool was disgusting. I could see the algae the way you look at the ground and see grass. They barely used their backyard, let alone cleaned their pool. They were an older couple with older children. The pool was covered with a tarp.

I reached my little arm out toward the Frisbee. There was nothing, not even a branch from a tree (well, maybe a branch, if I had snapped one off), to help me inch the Frisbee closer. My little sister was watching me with expectant eyes, but my arms were not long enough. My finger tips gripped the cement edge of the pool, and I reached farther, and fell into the pool.

I used to think that my fear of dark water and not being able to see into the depths was caused by my sister and I watching “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (the zombies coming out of the dark water episode, specifically, even though our parents forbid us to watch that show), but now, as I write this post and remember, it may have been from falling into a dark pool, filled with algae, and covered by a tarp.

I remember grasping the Frisbee in the water, panic filling my body as I tried to find an opening in the tarp. But under the covering, it was all dark. I pushed up against the heavy plastic and it gave me no out.

So I prayed for God to help me see my parents and siblings again, and I asked for help to get out, because I didn’t want to drown. I was no Russell Kirk, who fell out of the boat and sank to the bottom, calmly sitting there at the bottom, legs crossed, as if he was in a waiting room, until the homeless man out fishing with him swam to the bottom and saved his life.

No, I was flailing. I wasn’t ready to die. Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be a part of something big, important, honorable, and worthy. I wasn’t ready to die for a Frisbee. I prayed harder, and hit my hand against the tarp, and tried to stay focused as water was filling my little lungs.

Then I saw the light, and I breathed oxygen. I threw the Frisbee out of the pool, towards the fence, where my little sister still stood, trembling. It had only been a minute or two, but to us, it felt much longer. I pulled myself out of the pool, covered in algae, and climbed back over the fence.

Then I went upstairs and took a shower.

I don’t remember what happened after that, or how we told our cousins, or when we told our parents, but 12 or 14 years later, when I got St. Hyacinth in the Saint Generator, that was no mistake. It happened for a reason, and now, I am aware of his presence in my life. I have no doubt in my mind that St. Hyacinth helped intercede on my behalf; that he helped save my life; that he assists and will assist in my pursuits to helped spread the Faith. He's also helped me increase devotion to the Blessed Mother, Eucharistic adoration and frequent communion, not to mention further convince me that the Dominicans are still, and will always be, my favorite order.
St. Hyacinth, pray for me!


  1. That is TERRIFYING! It is no mistake that you got St. Hyacinth, wow. You told it so well, too!

    I didn't know that about the Monstrance, either! What a cool guy! There are so many saint stories we don't know about and it's so cool to hear that your saint really was waiting for you to find him, 12-14 years later!

  2. WOW! I'm floored by this story! Thank you St. Hyacinth for interceding for our dear Julie.

  3. Thank you indeed St. Hyacinth. You are already a part of something big, important, honorable and worthy! And there's more to come. It's so cool you all wrote about saints. Excellent post Julie!

  4. Wow, this is an amazing story! Thank you for sharing!!

  5. Reading all three of you Bright Maidens, and applying my own story of St. Therese, I am totally convinced that we don't choose our patron saints. They choose us.

  6. Julie! St. Hyacinth was definitely watching over you. I believe nothing is random in life. Thank you for sharing this story of faith.

    For me, St. Anthony has played a special role in my family. Two Mother's Days ago, I was given a St. Anthony's medal and prayer card. At the times, it really looked like our second adoption wasn't going to happen. Although, our sweet "Bumblebee" was living with us and already calling us "Mommy" and "Daddy", her birth parents were unwilling to sign the necccessary paperwork. All we could do was pray, and I asked Saint Anthony, the saint of lost things and causes to intercede for us. On March 18, 2011, we celebrated the first anniversary of "Bumblebee's" adoption.

  7. Wow, what an incredible story! I remember when you got St. Hyacinth. I thought it was a strange one too. But now I see the beauty in it. That's an interesting concept that a patron saint would choose you. I think it's true though. Very true!

    BTW: I like St. Philip Neri too! ;-) I think he chose me!

  8. I really really enjoyed this story. I'm relieved that you survived such a terrifying event as a child!

  9. Outstanding testimony. From now on, every time I take my little toddlers to the beach, I will start our venture with a prayer to St. Hyacinth.

  10. Amazing!! I did Jen's random saint generator too and had a powerful experience of my own. Got St. Joseph Moscati who was an astute diagnostician-- while I am struggling with an as-yet-to-be-diagnosed condition. God is funny :) Nice to e-meet you!

  11. That's an amazing saint story! I tried the saint generator and got St. Therese of Liseux. She and I have had a tempestuous relationship - I just can't buy into the schmaltzy holy cards, and can't help thinking her saintly family gives her an unfair advantage. Maybe God is telling me to get over myself...:-)

  12. Great story, Julie! One other thought: You mentioned that St. Hyacinth played an important role in evangelizing several nations. And you're a journalist. I'll wait for you to make the connection ...?

  13. I understand how you felt, Julie! I had the same experience when I got St. Wenceslaus as my patron saint. Your post here inspired me to write one of my own about what I've learned about St. Wenceslaus now. http://myephemera.com/?p=625 :)

  14. Hey Julie, Detroit has a big Polish population, so there's a beautiful old church here dedicated to St. Hyacinth. I hope one day you can come visit it. loved your post as always.