Depending on the name we received at baptism, each of us has a special intercessor or protector in the heavenly communion known as our patron saint. The saint can also, technically, be an angel. But either way, having help on the celestial end of Christian reality is a distinct advantage.
The practice of selecting a patron has early roots in Christianity, as the catacombs make clear. When the mostly-adult converts of the Roman Empire were received into the church through baptism, they often took the names of apostles or early martyrs. The history of a particular patron might figure into the identification one felt with him or her: by manner of occupation, personal suffering shared, or desirable virtue to be emulated.
In time, the patronage of saints was extended to entire nations, professions, illnesses, or other special needs. Also, individual parishes and w