Agatha of Sicily
Agatha of Sicily
As healing was so key to the public ministry of Jesus, and as people always have been existentially interested in health, there is no field of human endeavor with as many patron saints as medicine. Here is a look at some of the holy men and women we ask for help when we are sick and others who are special protectors of health care professionals.

Agatha of Sicily, d. 251, consecrated her life to God. Young and beautiful, she refused sexual advances and spurned attempted exploitation from local authorities. During her torture, her breasts were cut off. She is patron of nurses and those with breast cancer.

Albert the Great, d. 1280, was a major figure in the natural sciences who ran his own experiments. His aim was to glorify God by advancing human well-being. The mentor of St. Thomas Aquinas, he is patron of scientists and medical technicians.

Camillus of Lellis, d. 1614, long suffered from a leg sore. A soldier, he also had a gambling problem and fell into poverty, where he opened himself to God. He spent much of his life caring for the sick and was ordained a priest. He is patron of nurses and hospital workers.

Catherine of Siena, d. 1380, is famous for prayer, writings and bringing about the pope’s return from Avignon to Rome. She also gave heroic care to the sick and so is a patroness of health care workers.

Cosmas and Damian (d. circa 303), twins born in Syria, practiced medicine and charged no fee. They are patrons not only of doctors and surgeons, but pharmacists.

Damien De Veuster, d. 1889, cared for those suffering with leprosy in Molokai. A Belgian missionary who himself died of leprosy, he also established local leaders for the church and community. Known for treating others with dignity, he is patron of the sick and outcasts.

Francis Xavier Cabrini, d. 1917, known for improving life for Catholic migrants to the United States by starting schools, also established hospitals. She is patron of hospital administrators.

Luke the Evangelist, d. circa 84, is the author of the third Gospel and was a companion of St. Paul, who calls him “the beloved physician” (Col 4:14). St. Luke is a patron of doctors.

Michael the Archangel, known for helping to dispel evil, is one of the mightiest of the heavenly host. He is patron of emergency medical technicians, paramedics, ambulance drivers and first responders.

Mykola Konrad, d. 1941, was a Ukrainian Catholic priest tortured and executed by agents of the Soviet government after visiting a sick woman who requested the sacraments. Beatified in 2001, he is viewed as a patron of hospital chaplains and those who visit the sick.

Peregrine Laziosi, d. 1345, lived a life of severe penance and eventually suffered from cancer in his leg. The night before his limb was to be amputated, this Servite friar prayed before the crucifix and was healed. He is a patron saint of those who suffer from cancer. There is a Peregrine shrine at The Grotto in Northeast Portland.

Rocco, d. 1376, was a confessor born on the French border who ministered in Italy and once was arrested by the French for suspicion of espionage. During plagues, he diligently tended the sick in hospitals. He is invoked against plagues, pandemics and infectious diseases.

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), d. 1942, had been a nurse working with infectious disease patients prior to entering the Carmelites. Having converted from Judaism, this seminal thinker and writer was arrested by the Nazis and executed in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. She is a patroness of nurses.

Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia, grottonetwork.com, smalldevotions.com, vermontcatholic.org, vatican.va