There are hundreds of saints that Catholics believe can intercede on our behalf when we are sick and in need of healing. Saints have been canonized for every ailment, illness, and physical infirmity known to modern medicine. Here are seven patron saints that are said to minister to those suffering from sickness or pain.
#1 St. Ovidius, the Patron Saint of Hearing Diseases
Ovidius is a saint that is best recognized by the Portuguese church. He is believed to have been a Roman citizen from the region of Sicily and was sent by Pope Clement I as one of the earliest bishops to Braga, a city in Portugal. He was martyred for his Christian faith in the year 135.
His Latin name, Auditus, bears the root of the word meaning “to hear.” His name, in fact, literally means “he who is heard,” or even more simply, “ear.” Because of this name, he is traditionally invoked against any illness involving the ears.
His sepulcher in Braga, which contains his remains, was a popular pilgrimage site for those who were deaf or hard of hearing. There were two small holes at the base of his tomb into which visitors would place their fingers, then they would put their fingers into their own ears. This was a way of invoking St. Ovidius’ protection and healing.
#2 St. Servatius of Tongeren, the Patron Saint of Feet and Lameness
St. Servatius of Tongeren was a bishop from Gaul who lived in the fourth century. He attended several key conferences that established church doctrines, presenting himself as a powerful and eloquent defender of such common beliefs as Trinitarianism (the belief that one God exists in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). He is also reported to have founded major churches that still exist today in the Netherlands, the cities of Tongeren and Maastricht.
A legendary account of his life says that Servatius had a vision of the destruction of his hometown of Tongeren due to its sinfulness. He was then visited by the apostle Peter, who imparted to him the ability to forgive sins.
He died in the year 384.
St. Servatius is considered a patron saint of foot diseases and lameness, as well as rheumatism.
#3 St. Rasso of Andechs, the Patron Saint of Stomach Pain
St. Rasso of Andechs lived in the 10th century in Bavaria. He was a well-respected member of local royalty and a military leader, who led his people against the invading tribe of Magyars. He was also known for his unusual height, believed to stand at nearly seven feet tall.
Later in his life, he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and to Rome and brought back many relics to his homeland in order to protect them against the invading peoples. He also founded a Benedictine abbey in his hometown.
St. Rasso is invoked against stomach pains, especially those occurring in children.
#4 St. Gotthard of Hildesheim, the Patron Saint of Fever and Childhood Sickness
St. Gotthard of Hildesheim was a German bishop that lived in the 10th century in Bavaria. He engaged in advanced studies at local abbeys and also worked for the courts. When the abbey he studied at was converted into a monastery, Gotthard remained there as a monk; he was later ordained as a priest.
He was instrumental in reviving and reestablishing the Rule of St. Benedict at that monastery and others. This rule applied to monks that lived in a communal arrangement, and provides specific instructions for how they should live and work, with a particular focus on living in peace with one another and balancing their work with dedicated times for prayer.
St. Gotthard is invoked against fevers and childhood illnesses, as well as dropsy and gout. He is also called upon to intercede for those experiencing labor pains.
#5 St. Leodegar of Poitiers, the Patron Saint of Eye Disease
St. Leodogar of Poitiers was the son of French nobility in Burgundy and grew up in Paris. He became an archdeacon of Poitiers at the young age of 20, became a priest shortly thereafter, and later became a monk where he was elected abbot.
He was greatly involved in the politics of the day, ensuring that orthodox belief was a central part of the religious order of the region. He was also asked to work with the rulers on keeping the various political factions at peace, as well as train and educate the younger children.
When political unrest struck the region and a new king usurped the throne, Leodogar was arrested, put on trial for his faith, and tortured. As part of his torture, his eyes were gouged out and his sockets cauterized to prevent regrowth. He was later beheaded as a martyr.
Because of this, St. Leodogar is regarded as the patron saint of those with diseases of the eye, as well as those who suffer from blindness.
#6 St. Agathius of Byzantium, the Patron Saint of Headaches
St. Agathius of Byzantium was a Roman centurion who was martyred around the year 304. He was arrested and tortured for his Christian faith, which at the time was against the law of the Roman Empire. He was scourged and later beheaded on May 8; his feast day in the Catholic Church is observed on this date each year.
St. Agathius was honored from the earliest days of the church. Constantine the Great, who first legalized Christianity in the empire and became one of Christianity’s earliest political champions, built a church in his honor. Relics related to St. Agathius have been relocated to various sites in Italy and Spain over the centuries.
St. Agathius is considered one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saints whose intercession is considered particularly effective. He is the patron saint of headaches. He is also closely associated with soldiers, being claimed in Slovenia in the 16th century as an intercessor against the Ottoman Turks.
#7 St. Giles, the Patron Saint of the Plague and Cripples
St. Giles, also known as Giles the Hermit, was a Greek believer who lived in the southern region of France in the 7th century. According to accounts of his life, he lived in complete solitude from other human beings for years, accompanied only by a deer. When his hiding place was discovered by warring tribes, they shot an arrow at the deer which miraculously wounded Giles instead. Because of this, he is considered the patron saint of the physically disabled.
Another miraculous legend attributed to St. Giles had him celebrating a Mass to pardon Emperor Charlemagne, and an angel sent him a letter with a horrible sin that Charlemagne dared not confess. This “hidden sin of Charlemagne” was later refuted by further study.
St. Giles founded the abbey at Gilles-du-Gard, and the city was built around it and remains to this day. A cult dedicated to him thrived throughout the Middle Ages.
These are just a few of the saints that Catholic believers invoke when seeking relief from their illnesses or maladies. It is vital, however, to remember that these saints do not act under their own power and that we should pray to Jesus Himself directly for our healing, for He has promised to make us well and to care for us.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.