The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Patron Saint

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Edition of 1920. See also Patron saint on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

PATRON SAINT, the canonized saint who is sometimes credited with watching over, protecting or interceding for certain persons, places, trades or institutions. Thus Saint George is commonly called the patron saint of England, Saint Denys of France and so on. In the Middle Ages every trade had its patron saint. Saint Clair was the patron of lamplighters; Saint Cloud of nailers; Saint BIanc or Blanchard of laundresses; Saint Peter of fishermen; and Saint Dunstan of goldsmiths. The patron of an individual is generally the saint by whose name he was baptized. In most Latin countries a person celebrates not only his birthday but each of his saint's days. It often happens that he may be required to celebrate one certain saint's day several times in the year, as that of Saint John or that of Saint Joseph. So it is common to add to such a name a specific to determine which John or Joseph it is. Thus we have “Juan de Dios” (John of God) in Spanish as a very common baptismal name; and in French John the Baptist is so common that in some parts the French peasants are designated “Baptist.” The same thing happens with Jesus, which is a common baptismal name in Latin Catholic countries; and the curious combination Jesus Mary is frequently met with in men's names. This limits the name to one person, Jesus the son of Mary.