One piece of advice I’ve seen in several prenatal books is to have something to focus on (besides the pain!) during labour. Pamela England advises creating birth art or finding an image that inspires you with courage, confidence, and the strength you need during labour. As I thought about her advice, I knew where I could turn: to the patron saints of pregnancy.
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For Sunshine’s birth, I had a small photo album of random pictures that didn’t fit into any of my other photo albums. I was actually surprised at how flipping through those pictures, and reliving some of the happy memories, did help me face the pain. For Lily’s birth, I asked St. Brigit of Ireland for intercession. When I was pregnant with Jade, I found a St. Gerard medal to wear, and have given similar medals to pregnant friends.
The Catholic Church recognizes several patron saints of pregnancy and childbirth. These saints offer the inspiration of their example, as well as their intercessions for us here on earth. Here’s a list of my favourite prayer warriors, to whom I turn when I’m pregnant and approaching labour.
Patron Saints of Pregnancy
St. Margaret of Antioch
St. Margaret (also called Marina) of Antioch is the Patron Saint of Pregnant Women and Childbirth. She was beheaded in 306 in Antioch by the Emperor Diocletian for refusing to marry to local prefect. Legend says that while she was in prison, she was swallowed by a dragon, who then spat her up again because of the cross she carried. Little is actually known about her. Her feast day is July 20.
St. Brigit of Kildare (Ireland)
St. Brigit (or Brigid) of Ireland is the Patron Saint of Babies and Midwives. She lived from 451 to 525 in Ireland and knew St. Patrick. As a young woman, she became a nun. Later, she founded a convent and two monastic institutions. Her feast day is February 1.
St. Gerard Majella
St. Gerard Majella is the Patron Saint of Expectant Mothers and Unborn Children. He lived from 1726-1755 in Italy. He served with the Redemptorists as a sacristan, tailor, gardener and porter and also counseled the local communities of religious women. He was known to experience levitation and bilocation. Because of a miracle that happened when one woman in labour asked him to pray for her, many other women asked him to pray for them while they were in labour. His feast day is October 16.
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St. Ursus of Aosta
Saint Ursus of Aosta is the Patron Saint of Childbirth. He lived in Italy in the 6th century. He was a bishop in Aosta and opposed Arianism. Like St. Briget, his feast day is February 1.
St. Raymond Nonnatus
Saint Raymond Nonnatus (also known as Raimundo Nonato) is the Patron Saint of Childbirth, Expectant Mothers, Pregnant Women, Midwives, and Babies. He lived from 1204-1240 in Spain and was a farmer who entered the religious life. He is invoked by women in labour because he was born by C-section after his mother’s death (hence his name, “Nonnatus,” which means “not born.”) His feast day is August 31.
St. Erasmus (also known as St. Elmo) is the Patron Saint of Women in Labour. He was a bishop in Italy. Like St. Margaret, he died in 303 under the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian. Part of his tortures involved having his intestines pulled out or having hooks embedded in his abdomen, so he is the patron saint of abdominal pains, including childbirth. His feast day is June 2.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla
St. Gianna Beretta Molla was a pediatrician, wife, and mom of four children. When she was pregnant with her fourth baby, she also developed a fibroid tumour on her uterus. She refused an abortion or hysterectomy, and instead told doctors that if they had to choose between her life and her child’s, to save the baby. Surgery to remove her tumour was successful and Gianna carried her baby to term, then died from an infection after birth. She is the patron saint of mothers, physicians and unborn children. Her feast day is April 28.
Blessed Virgin Mary
Jesus’ mother Mary is the most obvious Patron Saint of Childbirth. The story of Jesus’ birth is told in the Gospel of Luke. Mary gave birth to Jesus alone (or with only her husband Joseph to help her) in a stable, and also endured a long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem while pregnant. She can thus be looked to as a woman who understands difficult pregnancies and labours, and can intercede before God on behalf of women today. She has numerous feast days, most prominently January 1.
If you work for a parish or pregnancy care centre, consider custom made pins from GS-JJ.com for pregnant moms. You can customize different images of patron saints for the pins and add short blessings or prayers on the back of the lapel pins. These pins can be a concrete way to bless and encourage expectant moms in your community.
St. Anne, Grandmother of Jesus
St. Anne and St. Joachim are known as Mary’s parents, although they aren’t mentioned in the Bible. Church tradition holds that St. Anne was an older woman when Mary was born (like her relative St. Elizabeth). Mary is said to be their only child and was dedicated to God at a young age, much like Samuel in the Old Testament. Her feast day is July 26.
Read about St. Anne in Saints of the Bible by Theresa Doyle-Nelson.
I pray these patron saints of pregnancy and childbirth will bless you during this season of your life! If you know any other patron saints of pregnancy or birth, feel free to mention them in a comment.
Prayer Cards and Posters to Inspire You!
Subscribe to my email newsletter to receive FREE prayer cards for pregnant and expectant mothers! This PDF set includes three prayers to St. Gerard and one prayer to St. Anne (Mary’s mother), in both prayer card / poster format and greeting card format. All the prayers are traditional prayers to patron saints of pregnancy and childbirth, including St. Gerard Majella, St. Raymond Nonnatus, and St. Anne (Mary’s mother).
To download these free printable prayer cards for pregnancy and birth, just subscribe to my email newsletter. Then you’ll also be the first to find out about new saint posts on the blog or prayers added to the printable.
May these prayers bless you during this time!
I am very pro- life so this was helpful to me as I looked for a confirmation saint.
Enjoyed the information
I loved your post! I found it looking for the patron saints of pregnancy and delivery, as I want to say a litany to them for my best friend and her husband who are expecting their first child in July. Please keep them in your prayers also and I will pray for you! The baby’s name is John Everett. If you would pray for me also I’d really appreciate it. My intention is to meet the guy God wants me to marry and then have a family with lots of children, but I need a man who sees children and the family the way God does. I’d also like to recommend a book called “The Apostolate of Holy Motherhood” from Amazon. If you haven’t read it, I think anyone who likes this post would love that book, and every wife and mother should read it! Thank you again for your encouraging post!
St Lutgardis of the Sacred Heart, Benedictine and Cistercian nun of the 13th century.
Patroness of birth and childbirth.
Always over looked, St. Joseph, the corporeal father of our Lord and saviour is not only the patron saint of the universal church, but also Joseph is the patron saint of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus’ public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.
He is also the patron of families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.
He was chosen by God to protect the new Ark (Blessed Mary) of the new covenant (Jesus).
God bless you all. Especially any expectant moms.
St. Collette. France.
She was born to elderly parents and is thought to be the patron saint of those seeking to conceive and her miracles include praying for a nearly dead laboring woman who survived and had a healthy child. Another miracle was bringing a dead child back to life after she wrapped it in her habit and prayed for the child.
St. Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist is also a patron saint for expectant mothers
I wanted to bring your attention to Stanislawa, the Midwife at Auçhwitz. I am praying for her canonization. I have dedicated my book, The “Joyful Mysteries of Childbirth”, to her and the Blessed Mother.
May I add the following Saint to your list?
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla who died on 28th April 1962 and was canonized by Saint John Paul II on 16th May 2004. She is the patron saint of mothers, physicians and unborn children.
God bless you!
Thank you for all the uplifting and faith filled comments! I particularly appreciate Sharon’s courage to speak her mind and your great response, Bonnie.
Please google ‘intercessory prayer in the Bible’ for wonderful examples of this type of prayer, of which Jesus Himself is the prime example. There are examples from the Old Testament e.g. Abraham interceding for Sodom (Genesis Ch 18 v 16-33)and most of the prophets interceding for Israel.
There are examples from the New Testament e.g. Stephen interceding for those who stoned him (Acts Ch 7 v 60) and St Paul interceding for the Ephesians (Ch 3 v 14-20), for the Philippians (Ch 1 v 9-11) and for the Colossians (Ch 1 v 9-12).
I especially loved David’s explanation that intercessory prayer is an act of humility. God loves those who are humble; and, being Humility Himself, it pleases Him particularly when we pray through His Mother, the Saints in Heaven and our friends on earth.
Thank you for this forum! God bless you all!
Greetings from the Nigeria!
Bonnie thanks for this wonderful post here . may the good lord bless you . A men
please which saint is response for difficult in learning?
Hi! I stumbled upon your post as I was searching for a list of saints I can humbly ask to pray for me 🙂
I am currently 11 wks pregnant and been having some bleeding episodes, I need all the prayers. This is my 3rd pregnancy at 39yo, feels like the first again because my second child is turning 10!
Another Saint I have discovered is St, Ulric of Augsburg. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=291
Thanks again for the list in this blog post.
I also stumbled across this recently. When I was receiving my Confirmation as a teenager we each were tasked to chose a Confirmation Saint for us and I was drawn to Saint Anne without really understanding exactly why. Now almost 20years later and 4years into my career as a Birth Doula I came across this and it filled me with awe. Even then when I did not know my path was being set in front of me. She is also a Patron Saint of women in labour. And as the mother of Mary I can see why. What a great blessing she was given to bear the mother of Christ.
“St. Anne is patroness of unmarried women, housewives, women in labor, grandmothers, horseback riders, cabinet-makers, and the Mi’kmaq people of Canada.”
Thank you for this blog it is a great resource.
Thank you so much for sharing this information. It helped me know and understand a lot of things. May our Lord Jesus bless every child of His with good health in body mind and soul, especially every unborn baby.
No where in the bible does it say we need an intercessor to pray, speak, and have a true relationship with God . That is a religion made by man. God calls us to have a relationship with him through Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ. We receive Gods grace through our faith in Jesus Christ alone, And because of that grace through Jesus Christ, we are saved. Why do you need the so-called Saints to pray to God. How unfortunate to miss out on the true gospel through this idea of praying to these so called Saints and the relationship we are meant to have with God and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came so we would have a relationship not a religion created by an organization of men . One misses out on the presence of the Holy Spirit and love of God directly to encourage, strengthen, love, forgive, protect. etc. Lastly, Do you not know, that when “Saints” is written in the bible, that it refers to ALL BELIEVERS. Just because the hierarchy of the Catholic religion says it, doesn’t make it so. Study the bible and find out for yourself instead of being told what to believe.
Hi Sharon – thanks for reading my post and commenting. I also believe that we received God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and most of my prayer time is spent in talking with God and Jesus. My relationship with God is very important to me. I’ve read my Bible through, cover to cover, many times. I don’t need the saints to pray to God, but I do appreciate having friends to pray for me. I often ask my mom, my husband, and other close Christian friends to pray for me; and I believe that, just as they can pray for me, so can the saints up in heaven. This was actually an issue I struggled greatly with in converting from the Lutheran Church to the Catholic Church; you can read more about it by searching “Catholic” or “saints” here on my blog.
Catholics ask the Saints to intercede for us, take the prayers to God, so to speak…. It is an act of humility– none of us are “worthy” (so-to-speak) to ask God directly, so we ask for intercession…..
you ever asked someone “pray for me!!!” (?) That is asking for an intercession: who better to ask than a Saint, who has already lived on earth and knows the trials and tribulations ?????
You are right, all the saved are saints. Canonized Saints are the ones who’s miracles prove they are in heaven.
As Bonnie said, they are like friends, whom we ask to jo in n us in prayer, just like a church prayer chain. Their prayers in our behalf, amplify our prayers.
Thank you for this lovely site. As a converted Catholic myself, I’m still getting used to the intercession of Saints, though I’ve always had profound respect for the Holy Virgin Mary. My sister recently found out she was expecting, and now she may have miscarried, we don’t know. Any prayers or positive thoughts would be much appreciated! I pray for all those that know and love God and those who know him by other names, everyone needs prayers said for them! Thank you again!
Hi i was searching for patron saint for conceiving a child as im praying for a colleague who is non-christian by the way and trying to have a baby for the longest time and i stumbled on your blog. I absolutely loved reading it. Thank u. God bless
Greetings from the Philippines!
I just want to thank you for sharing this list to us. I’ve been looking for prayers and patron saints who I can ask for intercession for the pregnancy of my wife.
God bless you and your family. 🙂
Ishmael – God bless you as well! I’m so glad this list encouraged you. 🙂
What a beautiful post. I have just entered my second trimester and have been looking for different saints who are associated with pregnancy. Thank you for this =-)
Lindsey – you’re welcome! I’m glad I could encourage you! 🙂
What a great a post! I especially like your explanation on saints. Being a Catholic also it’s sometimes hard explaining that to people who are not Catholic.
Maria – as a convert, I had to come to an understanding about the saints because the Protestant churches have left them behind. The more I learn about them, the more I appreciate what they can teach us about the faith. 🙂