Who is My Patron Saint?

If you're religious and in particular, follow the Catholic church, then you'll be aware of the patron saint. A symbol of holiness, patron saints have significance to those following the faith and as such, each member of the church will likely have a patron saint assigned to them.

A patron saint may already be part of the name you've been given, or you might wish to assign yourself one if you don't have one already. Many patron saints are well-known to the church and so they are often elected a personal one at an individual's confirmation.

In this guide, we'll look further into what a patron saint is and the meaning of name days, and deliver name day gifts to those being given their patron saint. You'll also be able to identify who your patron saint is and in particular, some of the most popular names and their assigned saints.

What Is A Patron Saint?

Patron saints date back to the Roman Empire and back in these days, churches were built on the site of where martyrs had died. As a way of honoring those fallen, the same churches would take the name of the martyr.

Worshippers of God would attend these churches to pray but to also honor that church's patron saint. Each saint also has its own feast day, another day to honor and celebrate the individual saint.

There are some churches that share the same saint and there are a number of reasons why this may be. One could be that the saint had his or her relics moved from one church to another. Another reason could be due to the saint praying at the site prior to their death.

A patron saint is said to inspire and they become an influence to encourage good deeds within the church community and beyond. They're said to guide the child throughout their life and to offer them comfort when they need it as they navigate the world around them.

Do the Name Days have meaning?

Many families expecting children will often consider at great lengths, the names to call their children. The teachings of the church express the significance of these name days when the child is baptized and given their name and patron saint accordingly.

Expanding on this, it's about distinguishing the child from others and bringing them out of their anonymity, whether they're a newborn or they're converting to this religious faith as a blessed mother of three.

Early in the Christian faith, it was a custom to give children names of saints and angels as a way to pay homage to the saint they were praying for.

For these name days in the Middle Ages, the person baptized on the day sees this event as being a personal holiday. For some, it's like a second birthday to celebrate - and who doesn't want to have two birthdays a year?

What are Name Day gifts?

As part of the name day that's celebrated, the feast day is just one of the ways to celebrate the occasion. Some opt to fast, as well as take part in a number of religious services. Traditionally, donations of sacrifices would be made, however, in modern times; name day gifts are often given.

If you're given the opportunity to gift someone for this religious occasion, then it's certainly worth finding something that the recipient will enjoy. This could be a religious gift or a gift that you know they'll get plenty of use out of.

A simple birthday card is more than enough to pay your respects to those wanting to gift something but perhaps are limited on their budget. It's always the handcrafted and handwritten gifts that are more thoughtful anyway!

Who Is My Patron Saint?

It's important to remember that patron saints aren't just advocates for their church. They can also be a protector of a nation, profession, occupation, family, and of course, a person.

According to Canon Law, at your confirmation, you may be bestowed with a saint if either your first or second name isn't a saint's name by the priest. There's also the choice of adopting one at your confirmation.

This is typically what's done when the individual might not have a name attached to a saint, or they are joining the religion later on in life and are only just having their confirmation.

How do you determine who your patron saint is? Well, unless you have a name that's attached to certain saints in particular, then you can choose to adopt anyone you would prefer. There's plenty to choose from, so you'll be almost spoilt for choice.

If you're finding it challenging to pick, then a prayer to the holy spirit for guidance. Here are a few ways that a patron saint could be picked for you:

  • Personal or family patron saint.

You may wish to keep the patron saint that has already been assigned to you either through your first name or your family's last name. Multiple saints may also be attached to the name, so you may want to identify with one in particular.

  • Bestowed name from a priest.

As mentioned, if you've not got a patron saint assigned to you, a priest may bestow it on you. This name will depend on the priest's preference or perhaps is simply one related to the church where your baptism is taking place.

  • Adopting a saint's name.

Finally, you may wish to adopt a saint's name that has no relation to your name whatsoever. There are no rules, so you can have free will over who you decide to feast in honor of, etc.

In the case of changing your patron saint, you can have as many patron saints as you desire. You may also wish to change the patron saint if needed, although not everyone does.

The Most Popular Names And Their Patron Saints

Who are the most popular patron saints? There are a variety of patron saints names that are attached with a number of female and male names.

If you're considering what patron saint might be attached to your name, here are some of the most popular names and their patron saints still being used in the world today. Let's first start with some of the popular female first names that you often come across.

Female first names

  • Sophia - A young Roman woman who suffered martyrdom for her faith during what was the persecution of Christians. Her name day is the 15th of May.
  • Emma - Derived from St Emma of Lesum, she's considered to be a peacemaker, and her memorial day is 3rd December.
  • Mary - Quite possibly, the Queen of all Saints is St Mary the Virgin. The virgin mother to Jesus and is stationed above all angels and men, for that matter. Mary's day is the 15th of August.
  • Barbara - St Barbara is mentioned in Roman Martyrology, and claims have been made that her death was at the torturous hands of her pagan father. Her day is 4th December.
  • Lina - An abbreviation of the name Caroline or Karolina. Committed nun and founder of the Congregation of the Poor School Sisters of Our Lady. Her name day is 9th May.
  • Emilia - The name Emilia has a number of saints attached to the name, including Saint Emiliana, with her name day being 5th January, and mystic Emilie de Vialar, with her name day being the 24th of August.

There are plenty of male first names too, that are worth noting. Here are some of the male first names that are recommended.

Male first names

  • Jonah - A prophet, Jonah is known in the bible for the story of the whale and how he was saved from drowning by the mammal. His memorial date is 21st September.
  • Ben - Short for Benjamin, Benjamin was the 'Son of Fortune' and was a deacon who worked as a missionary within his homeland of Persia. He died as a martyr and, as such, is celebrated on the 31st of March.
  • Noah - A biblical figure from the Old Testament who was instructed by God to build an ark in which he would protect all the animals from the great flood. Noah's day is celebrated on the 28th of November.
  • Michael - Protector of soldiers and police, St Michael was an angel who fought Satan and cast the devil from heaven. His day is 29th September.
    A patron saint is a way for religious individuals, such as those that follow the catholic teachings, to pay their respects by having their name or surname. A family within the faith may opt for just patron saint names or have names that they then adopt saint names to them during baptism.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're religious or a fan of history, exploring the origin of patron saints and how they play a part in religion is one worth understanding. If you've been looking at embracing the religious faith and would want to assign yourself a patron saint, then it's never too late to do so.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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