15 Unusual Patron Saints

L-R: St. Januarius, St Bernardino of Siena, St Giles
L-R: St. Januarius, St Bernardino of Siena, St Giles
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On May 13, Pope Francis canonized the two most recent saints in the Catholic Church at a special ceremony in Portugal. Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta Marto, a young brother and sister from the Portuguese parish of Fatima, are said to have witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary exactly 100 years ago this year, and Pope Francis’s canonization marked the centenary of their first miraculous vision.

Because the locals at the time first refused to believe the Marto siblings’ story—and because they both succumbed to the great flu epidemic that swept Europe just two years later—Saints Franciso and Jacinta of Fatima are already considered patron saints of the sick, of chronic bodily illnesses, and of those ridiculed for their piety. But what if you have other problems or interests that would require the divine assistance of an even more specific saint? Well …

1. ST. ADJUTOR

St. Adjutor is said to have either escaped Muslim captors during the First Crusade and escaped by swimming (according to various stories, he either swam to Crusader territory, swam all the way to France, or was recaptured and then transported back to France by Mary Magdalene), or else calmed a whirlpool that had emerged beside a boat he was traveling on. Either way, he’s now considered the patron saint of swimmers and those at danger from drowning.

2. ST. BALTHASAR

Medieval tradition held that the three kings who visited Jesus in the stable came from all corners of the Medieval world; Balthazar hailed from Africa—frequently Egypt. At the time, Romani card sharps and sideshow sleight-of-hand merchants were popular entertainers across Europe. Because it was mistakenly believed they came from Egypt (hence the name Gypsies) the Egyptian king—St. Balthasar—became the patron saint of playing card manufacturers.

3. ST. BERNARDINO OF SIENA

St. Bernardino of Siena was so well known for his crowd-pleasing public preaching in the early 15th century that he’s now considered the patron saint of advertising and public relations.

4. ST. COLUMBANUS

St. Columbanus spent much of the 6th and 7th century roaming around Europe—and that love of the open road has led to him being considered the patron saint of motorcyclists.

5. ST. DROGO

St. Drogo was so afflicted by a mystery ailment that made him physically repulsive that he’s now considered the patron saint of unattractive people. Entirely unrelatedly, he’s also the patron saint of coffeehouses.

6. ST. ERASMUS

St. Erasmus, Bishop of Formia in modern-day Italy, went through quite an ordeal during the Roman Empire’s persecution of the Christians in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Initially captured and imprisoned sometime in the late 200s, Erasmus is said to have been freed by an angel and fled to Turkey to continue his preaching. Arrested a second time, however, Erasmus’ undying faith so angered the Emperor Maximian that he had him beaten, whipped, placed in a barrel of spikes and rolled down a hill, covered in pitch and set alight, and finally—after he had somehow miraculously survived—his stomach cut open and his intestines wound around a winch. It’s for that latter torture that Erasmus is now considered the patron saint of stomach ailments, colic, and appendicitis.

7. ST. GILES

St. Giles is said to have lived as a hermit in the south of France in the later 7th century, nourishing himself only with the milk of a female deer. Because of that—as well as being the patron saint of the city of Edinburgh—St. Giles is also the patron saint of breastfeeding.

8. ST. GUMMARUS

St. Gummarus of Belgium was an 8th century figure whose wife, a local noblewoman named Guinmarie, was known for her shrewish and abusive behavior. Despite Gummarus’s attempts to salvage their relationship, they separated—and after he went on to found an abbey at Lier, he became the patron saint of difficult marriages.

9. ST. JANUARIUS

A vial of blood belonging to St. Januarius, a 3rd century Bishop of Naples, was saved after his death in 305. The blood is the subject of a longstanding miracle that claims, despite its age, that it liquefies on three dates in the year: September 19, December 16, and the Saturday before the first Sunday in May. For that reason, Januarius is the patron saint of blood banks.

10. ST. JULIAN THE HOSPITALLER

St. Julian the Hospitaller's name refers to the fact that he opened a hostel for travelers and dedicated his life to providing hospitality for the sick and needy—but only after he’d killed his parents in a twist on the story of Oedipus. For that reason, he’s the patron saint of murderers, should you ever need one.

11. ST. LIDWINA

St. Lidwina fell while ice skating at the age of 15 and never fully recovered from her injuries. After a life of piety, her grave became a site of pilgrimage; after her canonization, she became the patron saint of ice skaters.

12. ST. MÉDARD OF PICARDY

St. Médard of Picardy is the patron saint of protection against bad weather, supposedly due to the fact that when he was an infant an eagle flew above him during a storm to shelter him from the rain. According to folklore, whatever the weather on St. Médard’s Day—June 8—you can expect the weather to remain the same for the next 40 days.

13. ST. RITA

Despite wanting to be a nun, St. Rita's parents forced her to marry when she was 12. Through her husband she became embroiled in a bitter feud between two local families; the feud eventually led to her husband’s murder, and the deaths of both her sons. Because of her lifetime of disappointments, difficulty and setbacks, Rita is now considered the patron saint of the impossible.

14. ST. SERVATIUS

St. Servatius was a 4th century Armenian priest who died in Maastricht in the Netherlands of an infection to a leg wound in 384. Not only is Servatius now the patron saint of the city of Maastricht, he’s also responsible for foot and leg disorders, rheumatism, and protection against rats and mice.

15. ST. VEDAST

St. Vedast, or Vaast as he’s also known, is the patron saint of children who are late in learning to walk.

8 Cursed Movie Productions

Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist (1982).
Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist (1982).
Warner Home Video

Making a movie is hard. It’s even more difficult when freak accidents, premature deaths, and biblical acts of nature torment the cast and crew.

The movie productions below were so troubled that they’ve developed a reputation in Hollywood for actually being cursed. Since many of the films deal with satanic or supernatural subjects, fans have projected the horrors portrayed on the screen onto their behind-the-scenes happenings. The sources of other so-called curses are less mysterious: Today we know that filming downwind from a nuclear test site or covering your actors in aluminum makeup is a bad move, for example—but that wasn’t always the case.

From The Wizard of Oz to Poltergeist, here are eight “cursed” movies that have become Hollywood legends.

1. Poltergeist (1982)

JoBeth Williams stars in Poltergeist (1982)
JoBeth Williams stars in Poltergeist (1982).
Warner Home Video

Poltergeist is about a family whose new home, unbeknownst to them, was built on an ancient burial ground. This doesn't sit well with the spirits whose final resting places have been disturbed, which leads to a series of supernatural happenings. With all that in mind, you might think that director Tobe Hooper, writer-producer Steven Spielberg, and the rest of the filmmakers would know better than to use actual human remains as props, but that’s exactly what they did.

In the scene where JoBeth Williams is dragged into a swimming pool that’s under construction, the skeletons that pop up around her are real. Superstitious movie fans have pointed to this as an explanation for the shocking deaths of two of the movie's young stars: Dominique Dunne was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 1982, just a few days shy of her 23rd birthday, and Heather O’Rourke died from misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis in 1988 at age 12.

2. The Omen (1976)

Still from The Omen.
20th Century Fox

Danger began following the cast and crew of Richard Donner’s The Omen even before production on the film had officially begun. On his way to shoot the film in London, star Gregory Peck's plane was struck by lightning. Executive producer Mace Neufeld experienced a similar scare when his flight from Los Angeles was electrocuted just a few weeks later. Other tragedies related to the movie included a terrorist bombing at the hotel where Neufeld and his wife were staying in London and the death of the film's animal trainer. The day after he came to the set to handle the baboons in the famous zoo scene, the trainer was mauled by a tiger.

However, the most shocking The Omen-related incident occurred two months after the film premiered on June 6, 1976. The film's special effects pro John Richardson was driving in the Netherlands with his assistant Liz Moore when they got into an accident. While Richardson survived, Moore was decapitated. A nearby sign for a town added another unsettling layer to the tragedy: It read Ommen, 66.6 km.

3. The Exorcist (1973)

Still from The Exorcist.
Warner Bros.

When the New York City set of The Exorcist burned down in 1972, filmmakers immediately suspected evil forces were to blame. Jesuit priest Father Thomas M. King was brought in to bless the set when the crew moved to Washington, D.C., but that didn’t end the production’s unlucky streak. It was reported that a total of nine people involved with the movie died by the time production wrapped.

4. The Conqueror (1956)

Still from The Conqueror.
Universal

The curse afflicting Dick Powell’s The Conqueror isn't blamed on supernatural forces. The historical epic was filmed in Snow Canyon, Utah, just downwind from Nevada’s Yucca Flats. The site had recently been used to test 11 atomic bombs—something the filmmakers were made aware of before shooting. The ill effects of radiation weren’t widely known at the time and any suspicions of danger were downplayed by the government. By 1980, 91 members of The Conqueror’s cast and crew had gotten cancer and 46 had died from it—including star John Wayne and director Dick Powell. It’s impossible to prove how big a role radiation played in these deaths, if any, but it definitely doesn’t explain the movie’s bad luck at the box office. The Conqueror bombed so badly that it was partly responsible for putting its studio out of business. For that, however, we choose to blame John Wayne’s unfortunate performance as Genghis Khan.

5. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Still from Rosemary's Baby.
Paramount

Rosemary’s Baby is another film about satanic subjects that was touched by tragedy. Sidney Blackmer, the actor who played coven leader Roman Castevet, commented on set, “No good will come of all this ‘Hail Satan’ business.” Following the production, producer William Castle needed surgery for his gallstones and composer Krzysztof Komeda fell and sustained brain injuries that led to a coma that was ultimately fatal. But the most notorious incident associated with the curse was the 1969 murder of Sharon Tate by the Manson Family. Tate was stabbed to death in the home she shared with Roman Polanski, her husband and the director of Rosemary's Baby, who was away working on a film in Europe. She was eight-and-half months pregnant with their son at the time.

6. The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Still from Passion of the Christ.
Icon

If you’re looking for a sign to stop making your R-rated movie about Jesus’s crucifixion, getting struck by lightning is a pretty clear one. During the production of The Passion of the Christ in 2003, a bolt of lightning hit star Jim Caviezel and assistant director Jan Michelini. And it was actually the second time Michelini had been struck by lightning on the set of the film. Both victims walked away from the incidents relatively unscathed, and when it premiered in 2004, The Passion of the Christ raked in $611 million worldwide.

7. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Still from Rebel Without a Cause.
Warner Bros.

Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause is famously one of the last movies James Dean starred in before passing away at age 24. The actor was in a fatal car crash just weeks before the premiere in 1955, and that alone would have been enough to mar the film in tragedy. It’s legacy was further complicated when the movie's two other leads met untimely death decades later: In 1976, Sal Mineo was murdered outside his Los Angeles apartment and in 1981, Natalie Wood drowned off Catalina Island under suspicious circumstances (that are still being investigated). Dean was also injured multiple times during the film’s production, once when he broke his hand pounding a desk and again when he was cut during a knife fight scene.

8. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Still from The Wizard of Oz.
MGM

The land of Oz was much less cheery than it appeared onscreen, as the troubles plaguing The Wizard of Oz were nonstop. First the Tin Man had to be recast when Buddy Ebsen, the actor originally hired to play the role, had a life-threatening reaction to his aluminum makeup. During the scene when the Wicked Witch is supposed to disappear in a plume of smoke, the trapdoor malfunctioned, and actress Margaret Hamilton suffered second-degree burns. She was wearing copper makeup at the time and crew members had to rush to remove the toxic material before it further aggravated her injuries.

Stunt and background actors were also prone to disaster. Hamilton’s double Betty Danko was sent to the hospital when a prop broom exploded and two actors playing winged monkeys fell when their wires snapped. But not every dark story you’ve heard about The Wizard of Oz is true: The Munchkin who is notoriously said to have hanged himself in one scene is actually a bird spreading its wings.

Netflix Is Now Sharing Live Updates of Its Most Watched Movies and TV Shows

wutwhanfoto, iStock via Getty Images
wutwhanfoto, iStock via Getty Images

Netflix is notoriously protective of its viewership data. While the number of people sharing The Office memes or Stranger Things spoilers online indicate some shows are more popular than others, until recently, there were no real statistics to back up these trends. As Bloomberg reports, Netflix is making its biggest move yet toward transparency by sharing live updates of its top 10 shows and movies.

Now, when Netflix users search the site, they will see the most-viewed content on the platform that day. Under the TV Shows tab, Love Is Blind tops the list for viewership in the U.S. on Wednesday, February 26, followed by Narcos: Mexico and Locke & Key. As for movies, Netflix's own The Last Thing He Wanted (2020) starring Ben Affleck and Anne Hathaway is attracting the most viewers today. A Haunted House (2013) and Foreigner (2017) are listed in second and third place, respectively.

The new feature is a major change for Netflix, but it still leaves a lot of questions about its users' viewing habits unanswered. It's unclear how long a movie or television episode needs to be played to count as a "view," and there's still no data showing exactly how many people are watching these titles.

For now, this is the closest thing Netflix subscribers have to Nielsen-style TV ratings. You can check out the full lists of the most popular Netflix movies and TV shows in the U.S. on February 26 below.

Top 10 TV Shows on Netflix

  1. Love Is Blind
  1. Narcos: Mexico
  1. Locke & Key
  1. Gentefied
  1. The Office
  1. Better Call Saul
  1. Babies
  1. The Stranger
  1. I Am a Killer
  1. El Dragón: Return of a Warrior

Top 10 Movies on Netflix

  1. The Last Thing He Wanted
  1. A Haunted House
  1. The Foreigner
  1. Girl on the Third Floor
  1. To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
  1. A Bad Moms Christmas
  1. Mr. Right
  1. The Other Guys
  1. The Grinch
  1. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

[h/t Bloomberg]

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