Saints For March: Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph


Saint Patrick  389 – 461
Feast Day is March 17
Saint Patrick is Patron Saint of Ireland,
Fear of Snakes, Faith

Though not usually considered a novena saint, Saint Patrick is called upon by many for faith in the most trying of circumstances. Since he himself was forced to submit to living in a country not of his own choosing, he assists in accepting difficult situations where there is little hope of change. The patron saint of Ireland, he is credited with single—handedly changing the beliefs of the entire Irish nation through the purity and intensity of his faith. Saint Patrick’s following has spread to wherever the Irish have settled, especially in North America and Australia. He could never have imagined the astounding impact that his work in Ireland would have on the world. Saint Patrick was born on the west coast of Great Britain of Roman—British parents. Though his father was a deacon, and his grandfather a priest, early on, Patrick showed no interest at all in God or religion. At the age of sixteen he was abducted by pirates and taken to Ireland, where he was sold into slavery. For six years he was forced to live under the direst of conditions, subject to the elements and hardship, herding sheep. When he began to pray for deliverance, he dreamed of a ship docked two hundred miles away.

By following the dream’s directions, he was able to escape from captivity, find the ship, and prevail upon the sailors to take him with them. He eventually returned to his family, and in gratitude for God’s help he became a priest. In A.D. 432 he again had a dream that changed the course of his life. In it, he was instructed to return to Ireland and to convert as many people as possible to Christianity. Though he would have preferred to perfect his studies and remain in Britain, he surrendered to the guidance of the dream and put all his faith in God by returning to Ireland. Living there at a time when the Druid religion was in decline, he nonetheless had to compete with the “wizardry” of the Druid priests. There are many fantastic tales of his magical powers. It was said that Saint Patrick could turn people into deer and that he could turn day into night. He is still invoked today by those afraid of snakes, because he was said to have obtained a promise from God that no poisonous reptiles would be allowed to live on that island. Saint Patrick expelling snakes is a common image.

Another one of his symbols is the shamrock, or three—leaf clover. This symbolizes how he explained the Holy Trinity in his preaching. Saint Patrick built his main church in Northern Ireland.

Realizing that the landowners chose the religion of their serfs for them, he set upon converting the major families first. His life as a former slave and fugitive taught him to trust God completely, and those living in similarly miserable circumstances have always been able to identify with him. He died in 461 in the monastery of Saul, and his remains are buried with those of Saint Brigid in Ulster.

Novena to Saint Patrick

O great apostle of Ireland, glorious Saint Patrick, to whom under God so many are indebted for the most precious of all treasures, the great gift of faith, receive our fervent thanks for the zeal and charity that have been to thousands the blessings so invaluable. We ask your intervention in receiving (Mention your request here). Ask for all who dwell in this land and the land of thy labors the precious light of Faith, and beg for us on whom its glorious rays have long since beamed, the grace to regulate our lives by its sacred maxims. Amen 

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Saint Joseph  First Century
Feast Day is March 19
Saint Joseph is the Patron Saint of Family Protection,
Fathers and Work His patronages include a Happy Death and the countries
of Belgium, Canada and Peru

A poor carpenter and a direct descendant of the house of David, Saint Joseph was selected by God from all the men in the world to be the earthly father of Jesus Christ, an average person exalted to he highest level of respect and achievement. He readily accepted this and other directives from God and never shirked his responsibility to his family. Thus, Joseph epitomizes the role of father—protector. Many of the greatest saints have called on Joseph for protection. His novena is considered to be powerful, one that can be invoked for any trouble. Saint Teresa of Avila said, “I don’t recall up to this day ever having petitioned him for anything that he fails to grant. It is an amazing thing, the great many favors God has granted me through the meditation of this blessed saint.”

In Italy, where his feast is a major religious holiday, Saint Joseph is believed to have the power to break all natural law. It is said that since Jesus always obeyed Joseph when he was his father on earth, Joseph is accorded the same power in heaven. The only information known about Joseph is written in the Gospels. Because of the chasteness of his marriage to Mary, it is often assumed that he was an older man. This is unlikely considering the amount of effort he exerted protecting the Holy Family. Joseph was betrothed to Mary when he learned of her pregnancy. He was prevented from leaving her when he was assured by an angel in a dream that the child she was carrying was divinely given. After the child Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Joseph was again visited by the angelic presence, instructing him to move his family into Egypt to avoid King Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. He kept his family in Egypt until the death of Herod seven years later. He then moved Jesus and Mary back to Israel, settling in the obscure town of Nazareth in Galilee. Joseph approached the responsibility of raising the son of God with great humility and simplicity, instructing the boy in the trade of carpenter. He accepted and protected his wife’s virginity and led a chaste life devoted to his faith in God. In art he is usually shown holding a lily for purity. In some images he is carrying the baby Jesus.

The last mention of Joseph in the Gospels is when Jesus was twelve years old and left his parents to preach in the temple. It is assumed that Joseph died before the wedding feast of Cana. Since he enjoyed a perfect family life with Jesus and Mary, it is also assumed that Joseph died an easy death, with his wife and son at his side. This is why one of Saint Joseph’s many patronages is for a happy death. Because of his livelihood as a carpenter, he is considered the patron of workers. He is frequently invoked by those in need of work. In the United States people bury a statue of him upside down on the properties of hard—to—sell homes.

Novena to Saint Joseph

O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands to ask your powerful intercession in obtaining from the compassionate heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace for which we now ask. Mention your request here O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers for us will be graciously heard at the throne of God.

The following is to be said seven times in honor of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph. O glorious Saint Joseph, through the love you bear for Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his name, hear our prayers and grant our petitions. This novena can be practiced at any time of year. It is particularly effective if done for the seven Sundays prior to the feast of Saint Joseph in honor of his seven sorrows and seven joys.

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Saints for All Occasions Notecards

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