A patron saint or a patron hallow is a saint who in different Christian denominations is regarded as the tutelary spirit or heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person. Patron saints, having already transcended to the metaphysical, are believed to be able to intercede effectively for the needs of their special charges.
Saints often become the patrons of places where they were born or had been active. However, there were cases in Medieval Europe where a city which grew to prominence and transferred to its cathedral the remains of a famous saint who had lived and was buried elsewhere, and made him or her the city's patron saint – such a practice conferring considerable prestige on the city concerned. In Latin America and the Philippines, Spanish and Portuguese explorers often named a location for the saint on whose feast or commemoration they first visited the place, with that Saint naturally becoming the area's patron.
Professions sometimes get a patron saint owing to that individual being involved somewhat with it. Lacking such a saint, an occupation would have a patron whose acts or miracles in some way recall the profession. For example, when the hitherto unknown profession of photography appeared in the 19th century, Saint Veronica was made its patron, owing to how her veil miraculously received the imprint of Christ's face after she wiped the blood and sweat off.
The veneration and recognition of patron saints or saints in general is found in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Catholicism. It is, however, generally discouraged in other branches of Protestantism such as Calvinism, where the practice is considered a form of idolatry.
- Slocum, Robert Boak; Armentrout, Donald S. (1999). An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians. Church Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0898692113. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright, Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Gibson, Henry (Reverand (sic)) (1882), Catechism Made Easy: Being a Familiar Explanation of the Catechism of Christian Doctrine, No. 2, 2nd edition, Vol. 1, Chapter 5, in the subpart "The First Commandment (Concluded)", "Twenty-Fifth Instruction", p. 310, Burns and Oates (publisher), London, 1882.
- Duke, AC "Calvinism in Europe, 1540-1610, A collection of Documents" P. 53.