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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, October 18, 2010


It's an exciting week in saints!  The Pope just canonized a group that includes one of my favorite former "Blesseds", Brother Andre of Montreal.

To celebrate, we're still on the patron saint matching trail.

Hi Sister Mary Martha,

I was just wondering if there was a patron saint for childhood epilepsy. I know a child who struggles with epilepsy and could use a special friend. Thanks!

Oh yes, indeedy!  You'll be surprised to know that the patron saint of lovers is also the patron saint of epilepsy, although no one is exactly sure why.  It could be simply that St. Valentine's name sounds like the German word or phrase for "falling all the way down" and so he got the assignment.

It could be that he healed an epileptic.

But whatever the reason, we're not just whistlin' Dixie when we say that St. Valentine is associated with epileptics.  In the 341 works of art throughout Europe that portray St. Valentine, almost half of them include an epileptic at his feet.  This phenomenon was not lost on some epilepsy researchers who took the time to analyze what type of seizure the person with the saint is having and found the artworks to be very specific and accurate.

And of the 150 some odd paintings and statues and carvings 17 of the afflicted were infants, 35 were children and 7 were teenagers.

So it really looks like he's your man.

The tricky part is that we're not quite sure which man he is.  There are several St. Valentines, two of them are the person we generally think of as St. Valentine, St. Valentine of Terni and St. Valentine of Rhaetia.  They were both bishops and both martyrs. Their stories are both rather vague and they have been mixed up so many times we really don't know what's what and who's who with the the two of them anymore. So your little friend is just going to have to go with "St. Valentine" and let all the St. Valentine's in Heaven sort it out amongst themselves.

Which is lovely, really, when you think about it. A team of St. Valentines.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure my little pal St. Andre of Montreal has a patronage assignment. I vote for "acquiring real estate".  


Maureen said...

Don't forget about our very own Australian saint! - Mary McKillop, and the whole country has been bombarded with TV and newspaper reports for days!

Mary Bennett said...

Stop over to my blog for an award I gave you. :) I hope you like it, and the blurb I gave you.

Karen said...

Brother Andre is actually my mother-in-law's great uncle!

Anonymous said...

Oh Sister, do you have a saint for disorganized people?! The business papers that I can't throw away going to suffocate me! My office is being built or I should say was until my husband and the contractor had a disagreement and now work has come to a halt and I am about blow. Can you find a saint for me?

Julie M. said...

Check out this story from another of my favorite nun blogs: http://www.monialesop.org/2010/10/thank-you-saint-andre.html

St. Andre could become the patron saint of LEGAL immigration!

Angela Catirina said...

I was drawn to this post because one of my best friends has been in denial of her epilepsy for years - refusing to take the medication even. I worry about her endlessly. So thank you for posting this.

After reading your post, I am curious if this Saint Valentines is where we got the phrase "Falling in Love"?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister! Is there a patron saint for those trying to lose weight and deal with stress? And also...for those of us who need a little help doing volunteer work overseas, is there any saint we can look to to help us pray for some protection?

Thou Art Jules said...

Hi Sister! I blog over at thouartjules.com and just received word that my annulment has been granted and am scheduled for the Rite of Reception on Nov 21 (my birthday!)

I'm so excited and did not think this day would ever come! Now I need to chose a confirmation name. Do you have any tips or suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha,
As the Catholic mother of three children 5 and under, I am very concerned about Halloween. This year I have decided we will go out with the kids in Saint or soon-to-be Saint costumes (an Angel, Blessed Kateri, and Saint Michael). It seems like the holiday though is now much scarier and gorier than I remember it as a child. Should we protect our children and abstain completely from the festivities or should we wage spirital warfare and show others the Christian side of this now quite secular and perhaps even demonic holiday?


Cheerio said...

Hi Sister! I'm an American who has lived in Montreal for the last 6 years, the last 3 of them practically in the shadow of the Oratory of Saint Joseph that Brother Andre built. And the little brother (he was a short little dude!) certainly does have a patronage, at least unofficially - his prayers to Saint Joseph healed hundreds of people from various problems of the legs and of mobility, and particularly he was known for obtaining cures for those affected by polio. The votive chapel in the crypt of the Oratory has hundreds of crutches on the wall that were left by those who had been cured through the prayers of Brother Andre and the intercession of Saint Joseph.

And just to say it, I love your blog! What community are you with, anyway?