Monday, July 09, 2012

Who are the Patron Saint of Sailors?

There are actually four people who are considered the patron saint of sailors; Saint Brendan, Saint Nicholas of Myra, Saint Erasmus, and Saint Francis of Paola. Saint Brendan of Clonfert was one of the twelve apostles of Ireland. Born in 484, he became an ordained minister in 512 and built a monastery in Ardfert, the base of Mounty Randon, and Shanakeel. Although not a lot is known about his life, he is famous for the story of The Voyage of Saint Brendan where he had set out to find the Garden of Eden. The tale includes him finding St. Brendan’s Island and fighting off giant sea monsters. He died in 577 while visiting his sister in Annaghdown.
In addition to being the patron saint of sailors, Saint Nicholas of Myra also inspired the folklore surround the legend of Santa Claus. He enjoyed giving gifts in secret and is well known for putting coins in people’s shoes if they left them out. Born to wealthy parents, he became the Greek Bishop of Myra. He is associated with a number of miracles including one where he convinced sailors to give his town a section of the wheat they were carrying for the Emperor of Byzantium. Though they feared retribution, they gave him what he asked. However, when they arrived in the capital they found that the load weight had not changed and they were able to pass inspection.
Also known as St. Elmo, the third patron saint of sailors was the bishop of Formiae, Campagna, Italy. Saint Erasmus suffered under the Christian persecution of Emperor Diocletian. Although he tried to flee, he was eventually found by the emperor who threw him in jail where he was tortured. The legend of St. Elmo’s fire comes from the sailor’s belief that if blue light appears on the masthead of ships before and after a storm that they are being protected by the saint.

Saint Francis of Paola was born in Paola, Italy. This patron saint of sailors became a hermit at the age of fifteen. He is credited as developing the foundation of the Minim Friars. After receiving approval in 1474 from Pope Sixtus IV, he established monasteries in Sicily and southern Italy. He had the gift of prophesy and became so famous that the King of France, Louis XI summoned him to his bedside hoping Saint Francis could cure him. He couldn’t. Instead he became friends with King Charles VIII. He died on April 2 and was canonized as a saint in 1519.