There are times on this journey of marriage that I realize I can’t do it alone. I need help. I appreciate women who’ve come alongside me to share their advice from more years of marriage. I also know I can turn to God for strength, for He founded the institution of marriage and speaks often to it in His Word.
And then there are the Saints—the great men and women of history who lived out their love for Jesus and remain shining examples of what it means to serve God. While we may think of saints as priests or nuns who lived celibate lives, many of them were also married (and parents) and lived in circumstances that look remarkably like our own. And so I find inspiration in asking them to pray for me, knowing that they’ve been through this too and they know how to ask for help for me.
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Saint Marguerite d’Youville
This Canadian saint was born in 1701 and lived and studied with the Ursulines in Quebec for a couple years. She married at age 21, but her husband proved unfaithful and when he died, left her with six children and his debts. Marguerite opened a store to support herself and her children, and often helped those poorer than herself. She founded the Sisters of Charity of the General Hospital of Montreal (also known as the Grey Nuns) in 1737. She died at age 70 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1990. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages and her feast day is October 16.
“When we are having struggles of our own, it’s tempting to focus on resolving our problems rather than continuing to reach out to those most in need of our assistance. The example Marguerite set prompted Pope John XXIII to call her the ‘Mother of Universal Charity’ when she was beautified.” ~ Melanie Rigney, Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration
Saint Thomas More
A lawyer and scholar, Thomas More was a friend to the great philosopher Erasmus and King Henry VIII of England. He was married twice; his first wife, Jane, gave him four children and then died young and his second wife, Alice, was a widow who devoted herself to his children. Both marriages were happy. He opposed King Henry’s divorce and was eventually convicted of treason and executed for that in 1535. His feast day is June 22 and he is the patron saint of difficult marriages, large families, step-parents and adopted children, and widowers.
To become a saint in a terribly imperfect world, while being terribly imperfect oneself, is the challenge of every person. So More believed. Such a challenge More knew to involve difficult trials which he saw as the forge needed to fashion genuine strength and refinement of character—a character that would be capable of serving in any and all seasons. ~ Gerard B. Wegemer, A Portrait of Courage
Best known as the mother of Saint Augustine, Saint Monica was instrumental in her son’s conversion. Her husband was a bad-tempered, adulterous man for whom Monica prayed devoutly. He converted on his death bed and Monica then followed Augustine from North Africa to Rome, where she was rewarded with seeing his conversion as well. She died in 387 in Ostia, Italy, and her feast day is August 27. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages, housewives and homemakers, married women, widows, and victims of adultery and verbal abuse.
“We all have someone who holds a special place in our prayers, someone who has drifted away from our faith. Monica’s determination inspires us to keep praying—and nudging.” ~ Melanie Rigney, Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal
Born in 1271 and named for her great-aunt, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, this Aragon princess married the King of Portugal at age 12. He admired her devotion to the Church and gave her a large library, but was an immoral, unfaithful husband. Elizabeth prayed for him and continued to love, respect and obey him while also carrying out other charitable work, including offering marriage dowries for girls and founding a home for penitent women. She also interceded in family disputes, preventing several wars. After her husband’s death, she joined a convent and died in 1336. She was canonized in 1625 and her feast day is July 4. She is the patron saint of brides, widows, difficult marriages, and victims of adultery.
“Elizabeth had a clear understanding of her role in life. She always dismissed praise for her generosity by saying, “God made me queen so that I may serve others.” Sarah Gallick, The Big Book of Women Saints
Saint Priscilla and Saint Aquilla
This couple assisted Saint Paul in his missionary work in Corinth, Ephesus and Rome and he called them his “coworkers in Christ Jesus.” They were instrumental in teaching the evangelist Apollos more about Christ. They are usually mentioned together in the New Testament, but Priscilla’s name often comes first—unusual for this male-dominated society. They are also recognized as saints by the Orthodox and Lutheran Churches. Their feast day is July 8 and they are the patron saint of married couples. Read more about them in Saints of the Bible by Theresa Doyle-Nelson.
Saint Zedislava Berka
Zedislava was a Czechoslovakian / Bohemian saint who lived in the 1200s. She was married and had four children, but her generosity to the poor was frowned upon by her husband. She founded a Dominican priory near her castle, where she received the Eucharist daily (which was unusual for those times). Her holy death at age 32 is said to have brought about her husband’s reform, and she appeared to him after her death. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1995 and her feast day is January 1. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages and those ridiculed for their piety.
There are many more patron saints of marriage, who can inspire us by their example of faithfulness, prayer and love. Check out the eight saints listed at Together for Life or the longer listing at SQPN. I also appreciate the saintly inspiration for moms found in Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration, Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith, The Big Book of Women Saints and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul.
What saints have inspired you in your daily life or marriage?