Paging through Patron Saints: A Feast of Holy Cards (Abrams, 159 pages, $24.95), I was looking for a saint whose feast day is today. I'm sure there is one, but the closest I could come to in the book was St. Januarius, Patron Saint of Volcanic Eruptions, whose feast day was yesterday. Residents of Naples, Italy, where a vial of his blood is preserved, invoke the saint when nearby Mt. Vesuvius threatens to erupt...
Januarius is also the patron saint of blood banks and nail makers.
Authors Barbara Calamari and Sandra Dipasqua have assembled an awesome reference for Catholics and anyone interested in the saints and what they stand for. With more than 10,000 in the Catholic calendar, however, they had to pick and choose which ones to feature. Kudos to them for not going for all the obvious and commonly known ones. (I, for one, had never heard of St. Januarius.)
Each page displays a different holy card — you know, those little remembrances given out at funerals, communions, etc. — which portrays the saint either praying or performing some action for which he was known.
St. Francis De Sales, for example, is standing, a contemplative look, with a pen in one hand, a book in the other, perhaps a journal. His entry is in the "Health" chapter, as he is the patron saint of deafness, but he is also listed as the patron saint of editors, journalists and writers. (Now I know who to pray to when I have writers' block!)
Which brings me to the "Occupations" chapter. At the start of each chapter, the authors compile a huge list of saints to correspond with various subjects in the category before moving on to the featured entries. Perusing the list, I see there is a patron saint for not only carpenters, fisherman, healers and innkeepers — all logical given these occupations existed in biblical times — but also for cab drivers, beekeepers, clowns and pastry chefs. In fact, pastry chefs have three saints: Honorious of Amiens, Macarius the Younger and Philip the Apostle.
Who knew? I didn't know many of these fascinating tidbits and will enjoy this handy reference for years to come.