We are big fans of our guardian angels in my house. My kids ask their angels for help when they are faced with a big test at school or if they wake up in the night from a bad dream. Before I go to bed, I pray over their four sleeping bodies and ask their angels to watch over them. They had guardian angel medals hanging in their nurseries as babies and I have one pinned to the sun visor in my minivan to protect us as we go.
The saints, though? That’s something our family could do a little more learning about. I mean, there are certain saints that I am intimately familiar with. St. Cecilia has helped me on more than one occasion when I didn’t feel my voice could carry me through a performance. St. Anne and our Blessed Mother have prayed me through many a worrisome mothering moment. And there were numerous times as a fledgling teacher that I implored St. Mother Theodore Guerin for help.
At the beginning of this new school year, maybe it would be helpful to take a cue from my 4th grader and use a study guide to learn something new. Who are the men and women that our Church, in her wisdom, has put forward as experts in their fields? Who should we turn to for help with our school-related issues this year and in the future?
Grab your index cards and highlighters, sisters, and feel free to take notes. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but more the Cliffs Notes version. Not to worry, though. There won’t be a test.
The Main Idea
Patron Saint of Teachers – St. John Baptist de la Salle was a Frenchman from the 17th century who was a pioneer in teacher training. He formed the Brothers of the Christian Schools religious community and was a leader in educational reform in France. Some of the changes he instituted were providing educational opportunities for the poor, teaching children in the vernacular instead of in Latin, and involving parents in their children’s education. His feast day is April 7.
Patron Saint of Schools – St. Thomas Aquinas is a patron of schools, Catholic schools, and colleges/universities. He was a 13th century Dominican teacher, professor, and founder of schools who was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V. He taught in France and in Italy and wrote several prayers for students. His feast day is January 28.
Patron Saints of Students – St. Catherine of Alexandria lived in the 3rd and 4th centuries and, when she was a teenager, came before Emperor Maxentius who was persecuting Christians. Because of her great intellect, she was faced not with physical hardships but with fifty orators and philosophers to debate her. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, she spoke so eloquently that she won her debate and even converted several pagans. St. Joseph Cupertino was a 17th century man who struggled academically and finally passed his exams to became a priest at the age of 25 after failing multiple times. (He was also known to levitate, which most kids think is pretty cool). St. Catherine’s feast day is November 25th and St. Joseph’s feast day is September 18.
*EXTRA CREDIT* — The patron saints of catechists are St. Charles Borromeo and St. Robert Bellarmine (both active in the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga). And the patron saint of school principals is St. Thomas Aquinas. He’s actually the patron saint of a lot of things related to education!