Patron saints


Roamy here. For those who don’t know me all that well, I am Catholic. I started thinking about Xbrad’s birthday and St. Crispin’s day coming up and thought that a post on patron saints might not be too bad.

I hate to tell you this, XBrad, but St. Crispin was taken off the liturgical calendar during Vatican II, as there was insufficient evidence that he actually existed. The story goes that he and his twin Crispinian were from a noble Roman family and became missionaries in Gaul. There, they made shoes, which is why they are the patron saints of cobblers, as well as tanners and saddle makers. Like many of the missionaries before 313 AD, Crispin and Crispinian were martyred.

The patron saint of infantrymen is St. Maurice. He was the leader of the Theban Legion, a group of soldiers that had all converted to Christianity. They were ordered by the emperor Maximian to Gaul, to suppress the bagaudae, or French brigands. At the Roman outpost of Agaunum, they were ordered to make sacrifices to the Roman gods and the emperor, which they refused. They were martyred, and the town is now known as Saint-Maurice, in the Swiss canton of Valais. There is an Order of Saint Maurice, which is awarded by the National Infantry Association and the Chief of Infantry of the United States Army. Some famous members of the Order of St. Maurice are Gen. Matthew Ridgway, Gen. Colin Powell, Capt. Dale Dye, Gen. John Abizaid, Gen. Edward C. Meyer, CSM Basil L. Plumley, and Ross Perot.

I am familiar with St. Barbara, the patron saint of artillery, because she is also the patron saint of miners. The materials engineers shared a building with the mining engineers at Virginia Tech, and there was a display case with the story of St. Barbara. She was beheaded by her father for being a Christian, and her father was shortly thereafter struck by lightning. Because of that, she is invoked for protection from lightning, fire, explosions, and sudden death. The Order of Saint Barbara is a military honor society of the US for both the US Army and the US Marine Corps Artillery, including field artillery and Air Defense Artillery.

The patron saint for all armed forces is the Archangel Michael. By tradition, he is the field commander of the army of God. Revelation 12:7 says: “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back,” where the dragon is Satan. The chapel on the arsenal here has daily Mass, and it is ended with what used to be a common prayer before Vatican II. “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil…”

No gun cameras in 1470, so they made do for their war pics.

There are many more patron saints out there. If I do another post, I’ll try to figure out why St. Philip Neri is the patron saint of Special Forces.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Patron saints

  1. David Navarre

    Saint Michael is also the Patron Saint of Paratroopers (maybe moreso in France than the US – http://www.liendragonpara.net/stmichel.html)

  2. Esli

    How could we leave out St George, the patron saint of armor and cavalry???
    Most, if not all, branches of the army have orders of whoever. St George and St Barbara have always been big. The infantry is not so big with St Maurice, as the only thing they “venerate” is the ranger tab…. There is no religious connotations to these orders; generally you have to do well in your branch, have some seniority, and be a member of the appropriate association (i.e. the armor association). Several of these orders have differing levels, like the armor association’s Bronze Medallion (generally but not always awarded post-company command or first sergeant) and they started a new Black Medallion a while back, which some lieutenants and a lot of junior and mid-grade NCOs can now get, which is a good thing. They also have the Noble Patron of Armor for non-tankers. The St Maurice has 5 different levels, one of which is the Legionnaire awarded for outstanding or conspicuous contribution to the infantry (Roamy must have scrolled right over my number L000890). St George has a variant for the wives called the Order of St Joan of Arc, and the infantry has the “Shield of Sparta-Heroine of the Infantry. FA and ADA have the less heroic, but perhaps more patriotic “Molly Pitcher” award.

    • I promise I’ll include St. George in the next one. Another cavalry patron is St. Martin of Tours, who is also the patron saint of quartermasters.

    • I’d say the “Legs” venerate more than just the Ranger tab. Jump Wings are also worshiped as well.

      Esli, do you really want to be recognized for contributions to the “enemy.” The Infantry for Pete’s sake? A Tanker? The shock doth shock tremendously….

      Never did understand the Roman Catholics conferring sainthood on an angel since they are already in heaven. Particularly an Archangel recognized as the protector of Israel in scripture.

    • Esli

      i guess you haven’t clued in yet! Having spent more time in / around infantry (including attached to IN Co/Bns) than armor or cavalry, I consider myself equally at home in both communties. I am truly all about combined arms (hence a Combined Arms Battalion…). Strangely, both tankers and infantrymen consider me a traitor to their branch. I am more partial to my St George than my St Maurice, though, as it looks better, and is more quality construction.

  3. I love to read on the histories of sainthood. One of my favorite places in Germany is Basilica Vierzenheiligen, or the Basilica of the Fourtenn Helpers (Saints). There are no stained-glass windows in this basilica, probably so as not to distract from the beautiful sculptures of the fourteen saints:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_the_Fourteen_Holy_Helpers

  4. Bill

    As a good NASA person, Roamy has a deeper connection with St. Barbara than she may realize. Per Robert Heinlein’s 1948 novel _Space Cadet_: “The point is that she [St. Barbara] is the patron saint of all who deal with high explosives, rocket men among others.”